Disclaimer: I own neither 'Batman' or 'Castle', and the original idea for this story was inspired by a piece of fanart created by AwsomeGeek and is used with her permission
Feedback: Feel free
AN: This is a sequel to 'Detective al Ghul', based on the idea that Kate Beckett is really Talia al Ghul, daughter of Ra's al Ghul; reading that story is VITAL if you're going to understand what's happening here (To cover the most essential point, 'Talia' here is Kate Beckett under an alias; remember that and everything else should fall into place).
This story is set a few days after 'Dark Knight' for Bruce, and about four years prior to the first episode of 'Castle' for Kate; with that said, I hope you like this one-shot
As he sat in his penthouse, staring out at the city before him- the city that was approaching a sense of peace beyond anything that would have been possible even a few months ago-, Bruce couldn't believe that things had turned out this way.
He'd set out trying to make a difference in the city that had done so much for his family and yet failed so many others, and what was he left with? Damaged knees that still ached several days after the attack that had injured them in the first place, the death of both Gotham's greatest public hope and the only chance he'd had at a normal life beyond Batman, and his reputation as the Dark Knight forever ruined to save the hero that Gotham needed to believe in more than ever...
Still, at least they'd managed to account for the essential details in their story. With the full extent of Harvey's injuries known only to Gordon and his doctors- and most of those doctors had been killed during the Joker's attack on the hospital-, Gordon had officially claimed that Harvey had escaped hospital during the Joker's attack on the hospital, implying without stating that the reasons for his escape were due to him realising from something he'd witnessed earlier that Batman was about to suffer some kind of breakdown (The fact that Harvey was dead just meant that they'd never know what had 'tipped him off'). Having tracked Batman to the factory after the vigilante had eliminated Maroni and a few other associates of the Joker, Dent had discovered Gordon's family being held hostage- implying without stating that Batman had snapped and abducted Gordon's family in the belief that there was some connection between the Commissioner and the Joker-, and been killed in the subsequent fight against Batman, although the injuries he'd inflicted before his death had forced Batman to retreat as the police arrived.
It wasn't a perfect story, but it covered most of the details that people would want to know, particularly since the only person who might know anything to the contrary was a scarred madman who was almost certainly going to get the death penalty for his actions; if they had to assume that Batman had started to kill, that was a small price to pay to preserve the city's chance for peace.It's what Rachel always wanted
That was the one thing that really cast a shadow over this whole situation; Rachel hadn't made it.
And the consequences of that failure...
He might have wanted to be with her, but even if she would have chosen him in the end, he'd never wanted that
to happen to Harvey; the D.A. had been a good man before the Joker got to him, and he could have still had a chance at finding someone else...
The sound of a knocking on the door distracted him from his thoughts, prompting him to stand up and head for the door to the penthouse; Alfred had left to investigate what progress was being made in the mansion's reconstruction, but that only meant that nobody was expected to come here unless it was a particularly serious emergency...
Then he opened the door, and his eyes widened in shock at the sight that greeted him.
"Talia?" he said, taking in the sight of Ra's al Ghul's daughter standing at the door, dressed more casually in a tight dark shirt and trousers, her hair pulled back in a very professional-looking manner, such a contrast to the elegantly-dressed woman she'd been during their first and only meeting. "What are-?"
"I told your door staff that I had an appointment to discuss recent events with you; they were willing to leave it at that," Talia said firmly as she walked into the penthouse (With an attitude like that, Bruce was almost surprised that she'd even bothered with a cover story; her manner gave the impression that she had business without even needing to say anything) before she turned to glare at the billionaire in cold resolution. "What I want to know is simple, Mr Wayne; did you do it?"
"No," Bruce replied, his voice firm as he looked back at Ra's al Ghul's daughter, fully aware of what she was referring to. "I didn't."
"Then why does Commissioner James Gordon believe you did?" Talia asked, still staring at him as though waiting for something that would allow her to catch him in a lie.
"Because I told him to claim that it was me to protect the real killer," Bruce said, staring solemnly back at her for a moment before he came to his decision; she'd been a trustworthy guardian of his secret so far- he certainly hadn't heard any stories about his other identity in the papers since their last meeting-, so it was only fair that he explain why he was allowing his city to consider him a murderer now. "It was Harvey Dent."
"Dent?" Talia said, looking at him in surprise. "Why?"
"You read about Dent being captured by the Joker, right?" Bruce asked, Talia nodding in response before he continued to explain the situation. "The injuries he sustained when the building he was in exploded left the left side of his face with serious burns; the pain and scale of the damage, coupled with the fact that his fiancé died at the same time when the police failed to get to her in time..."
"And then there was the Joker to deal with, I take it?" Talia asked, looking at him with silent understanding.
"He snapped," Bruce said with a grim nod. "He killed Maroni, Maroni's driver, the corrupt officer who'd taken him to the Joker, and then took Commissioner Gordon's family hostage in the same location where Rachel died, declaring that he'd decide their fates based on tossing a coin and seeing where it came up; as far as he was concerned now, law and order meant nothing in a world that could do that to him, and chance was the only fair thing left for anyone to believe in. Gordon and I tried to talk him down... but, when he was about to shoot Gordon's son..."
"You did what you had to do," Talia said, her tone lacking her earlier judgemental outrage as she simply stared at him in understanding, a moment of silence filling the room before she looked at him with renewed curiosity. "But why take the blame-?"
"Because the Joker cannot win," Bruce said, staring resolutely at Talia once again; he didn't like to think about his failure to save Harvey at the last moment, but was grateful that she wasn't going to ask any questions about that issue, even if the topic she had chosen was only slightly more comfortable to discuss. "They have to believe that I did it, or everything Harvey did with his life means nothing."
"You would take the blame so that Harvey Dent does not?" Talia said, looking sceptically at him.
"Gotham needs the White Knight more than it needs the Dark Knight right now," Bruce said, allowing himself a slightly wistful smile at the memory of his alter ego's nickname before he redirected his attention back to her. "If the people knew what Harvey had done, it would destroy all faith they had in his prosecution of the mob and the criminals he's put away; I can't let Harvey's work be destroyed because he broke under a strain that would have shattered most men. Sometimes, people need to have something to believe in more than they need to know the truth; telling the truth about what Harvey did in his last moments won't accomplish anything, but with his victory over the mob in the courtroom..."
He shrugged. "Well, the city doesn't need Batman any more; might as well use this as an excuse to reinforce my retirement."
"I see..." Talia said, nodding thoughtfully as she looked at him, turning over everything that she had heard, before she spoke again. "I will keep your secret on one condition."
"Which is?" Bruce asked in response.
"When Gotham needs Batman once more, Batman must be there," Talia stated with firm resolution.
"What-?" Bruce began.
"Believe me when I say that, while I wish it did not have to come about as a result of these particular circumstances, I acknowledge that your decision may indeed be Gotham's best chance in this current environment and will not deny you the chance to take this opportunity and use it to save your city," Talia said, holding up a reassuring hand to halt Bruce's protests before she lowered it again, staring resolutely at him. "But, in return for my silence, I want your promise that you will return to protect Gotham if the day should ever come when Batman is needed once again."
For a few moments, the two of them stared at each other, an intensity in the air that was almost physical in nature, until Bruce nodded in acceptance of her demand.
"All right," he said, a slight smile on her face. "If the city needs Batman again... Batman will be there."
"That's all I ask," Talia replied, smiling at him before she leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. "Be well, Mr Wayne."
Watching his somewhat-enigmatic visitor walking out of the penthouse, Bruce briefly thought about calling after her, but dismissed the idea as quickly as it had come to him; that part of his life was over and done with, and all he could do now was whatever good he could accomplish as Bruce Wayne.
As she walked out onto the streets of Gotham, Kate Beckett wondered what it said about her dedication to her job that she kept on doing this.
Here she was, a newly qualified NYPD detective, with a criminal mastermind for a father and issues regarding her mother's murder that she was still trying to get over, aiding a vigilante in covering up the death and murder spree of a respected district attorney?
It wasn't that she disagreed with Bruce Wayne's intentions in claiming responsibility for Dent's actions, of course- his actions might be questionable, but he was making the best of the situation that was facing him as he worked to save Gotham from the corruption that had tarnished its reputation for so long, and she certainly wasn't going to condemn him for his implied role in Dent's death when he had been faced with an impossible situation and acted to save a child from a psychopath-, but the thought that Gotham would be condemning its true hero for the crimes of its fallen one...
There were definitely times when life was so far from fair it was ridiculous to try and work out how they'd reached that point.
Still, at least she'd managed to get the answers that she'd come here to find with minimal use of her father's privately-established bank accounts; the last thing she wanted was to draw on too many of her vacation days at once, and she'd admittedly come up to Gotham with only the barebones of a plan (She'd come to the city focused on the idea of stopping Batman if he had become a killer and planning to work out everything else from there). So long as she got back to New York by tomorrow, she should be able to get back to work with the minimal amount of fuss; all she'd need to do then would be get back to work and hope that nobody asked too many questions about what she'd been doing while she was away.
She'd confirmed that Gotham's guardian hadn't crossed the line her father had crossed so many times, and ensured that he would still be there if the time came when he would be needed; right now, that was all that she could do.
The Dark Knight had fallen for now, but even if his actions had saved the city, with the way Bruce had looked during that meeting taken into account- lost and shattered in a way that Kate had only seen in the past when dealing with those who had lost relatives in the most horrible ways imaginable-, Kate wasn't sure if he would ever really want to rise again...
AN 2: Short, but I think it works; the next story planned is a more thorough rewrite of 'Dark Knight Rises', set post-'Always' for Beckett- by which I mean I'll be including Richard Castle and other associated characters as well-, with some interesting plans in mind regarding how her presence will impact the villains' schemes...