The New Knight Dawns
AN: The final chapter of this series, and I hope it meets with the satisfaction of all concerned parties (Particularly AwesomeGeek, without whom this series would never have been written)
Looking out at the city before her, people and supplies streaming back in as Gotham was finally provided with the resources it needed to rebuild, Kate almost found it hard to believe that it was all over.
Her time in Gotham hadn't been easy by any definition, but they'd managed to make something work, using what resources they had to mitigate the damage that Bane and Nyssa might have been able to accomplish with access to both sides as they would have had if their schemes had gone according to plan. Without Nyssa's deception to throw them off, Gordon had managed to recover the reactor in time to return it to its original storage facility and disarm it before it could explode, Lucius Fox having already begun arrangements to dismantle it to prevent something like that ever happening again.
As far as Bane's army went, most of them had been losing the will to fight even before Bane's defeat became public; a crucial disadvantage of their reliance on Bane as a symbol was that they became significantly less effective when he was taken out of the picture even before they knew how it had happened. As for the masked mercenary himself, while Bane hadn't actually died of the pain caused by his damaged mask, the scale of the threat he posed had prompted the doctors who treated him to keep him on a low level of anaesthetic, just enough to keep him alive without allowing him to recover to a degree that would allow him to pose a threat.
Once contact with the outside world had been established, Nyssa had been transferred to a New York mental hospital, still under the alias of Miranda Tate, with a prescription form filled out that recommended regular drug doses that would ensure limited mobility or speech to prevent her harming herself; Kate had introduced herself as Miranda's half-sister, claiming that the death of their father had led her to have a psychotic breakdown that drove her to 'attack' the city that he had been in when he died as part of some warped mission of vengeance (She had made references to suggest that their father had been involved in the League's attack on Gotham without specifying the extent of his connection to the attack; with what she'd told them, he could have easily been just one of the group rather than the leader).
It wasn't a perfect story, but considering that Nyssa wouldn't really have anyone to back up her side- doctors had already dismissed her attempts to claim that Bruce Wayne was Batman as ridiculous-, Kate was content to leave it alone and work on additional details only if they were needed; she knew from experience that making alibis too complicated tended to increase the risk that they'd be exposed as such.
Reflecting on other criminals active in Gotham, Kate was relieved that the most significant non-Bane-affiliated threat had been dealt with so quickly, as the Joker had been successfully recaptured shortly after the announcement of Bane's capture and imprisonment. Bruce had commented that he was fairly sure the Joker had only returned to prison so that he could give Gotham time to rebuild before he tried to break out again, but he wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth, and Kate was generally in agreement. The chaotic clown and self-styled 'agent of chaos' was a problem, but he was a problem who followed a certain pattern, and his pattern had been brought to a halt by their actions; it was more than they could have hoped for when this mess began. A few of Bane's mercenaries were still active, but without their leader to coordinate them they were fanatics without a cause, unable to access enough of Bane's old resources to do serious damage and too dependent on him to come up with plans of their own.
Right now, as far as Kate was concerned, her main problem was working out how to account for their almost six-month absence back in New York. They might be able to claim to the public that she and Castle had decided to run off for some time on their own after the stress of writing the latest Nikki Heat
had become too much for him, but with Ryan and Esposito aware that they were involved with events in Gotham, and Alexis and Martha fully aware that Castle wouldn't leave them
alone without any word for this length of time, they were probably going to have to share the truth with at least those four. Bruce had already agreed to them telling others about his identity so long as the information was limited to those that Kate and Castle both trusted to keep the secret, which at least took one weight off Kate's mind; after what Ryan and Esposito had done for them on such short notice with so little intervening contact, they deserved the truth.
To their credit, both detectives had been quick to take action, not only getting to Gotham in record time, but managing to keep themselves together despite being shaken at what they had discovered on the Gotham bridge; they'd heard all of the reports about Bane's threats to detonate the bomb if anyone tried to leave, but to see one law enforcement officer pointing a gun at another when the other guy was trying to evacuate kids from a doomed city…
If their friends hadn't been able to knock the other guy out before he hit the trigger, things would have become even more difficult; they'd only just managed to reach the guy in time to throw the detonator over the bridge where nobody could use it, giving Blake the chance to get the bus over to the other side.
It might not have mattered in the end, but the idea that they had come so close to dying because one man obeyed the rules, only being saved because two others had broken them…
Kate had a feeling that Detective Blake would go looking for another line of work sooner rather than later after witnessing something like that, and she had a strong feeling that the man who was now standing alongside her would help him do that…
"Thanks for your help," Bruce Wayne said, nodding at her with a slight smile as he joined her in staring down at the city before them, their dark clothing and the position of the sun leaving them well-concealed from anyone who might be watching from the street.
"I didn't do much," Kate said, shrugging slightly as she looked back at the billionaire; Bruce was still keeping his return to Gotham on a 'need-to-know' basis- so far only she, Blake, Lucius, Castle, and Selina knew that Bruce Wayne was back in Gotham, although she was fairly sure that Gordon would be added to that list soon-, and she wasn't even sure yet if he'd want that to be changed to acknowledge his return.
"You kept things together when I couldn't, and stopped everyone making a big mistake," Bruce said, looking warmly at her. "I might have stopped Bane… but you stopped Nyssa."
Kate didn't respond to that, but she knew that Bruce understood.
Regardless of what Nyssa, or Miranda, or whatever she wanted to call herself, had done and/or had been planning to do, and how much she acknowledged that those plans had to be stopped…
Nyssa had still been Kate's sister.
Kate was never
going to be comfortable with the knowledge of what she had been forced to do to her closest living relative to save this city, even if she knew that it had to be done if anything was going to survive.
They'd done what many had believed impossible when they saved Gotham; what she'd had to do to accomplish that was something it was better not examining in any more detail than she had to.
The only thing left for Kate to do now was make the necessary arrangements for when she returned to her city…
"You're sure that you want to do this?" Bruce asked, looking at her with a new uncertainty; they'd discussed her plans earlier in the immediate aftermath of the attack, but Bruce seemed determined to make sure she knew what she was getting into. "The kind of life you're choosing…"
"Is the kind of life that gives me what I want right now," Kate replied, looking solemnly back at him. "I've been away from the job too long to expect Gates to take me back even if Ryan and Esposito vouched for me, and I've spent too long dealing with cases where I couldn't follow up with the investigations because legal rules tied my hands; this might be more dangerous, but right now, I can't think of anything I'd rather do."
She might have officially condemned Anne Hastings for doing what she was planning to do, but that had only been because she had believed that Anne had been killing people in her role as a costumed vigilante; when Anne's actions were viewed when considering her as someone who didn't kill, she had to admire her.
Sometimes, as much as she'd like to believe otherwise, legal rules were a hindrance to the pursuit of justice, and there was also the frustration of always getting there after the fact; maybe this way, she'd have a chance to get to some victims before
the crimes were committed.
With Bruce's private financial backing- Wayne Enterprises actually wasn't doing too badly after their recent ordeal, what with Bane's files allowing them to replace the company's lost stock and his use of their technology providing a useful 'advertisement' of what they were capable of- on top of Castle's own resources, she might not have an easier time of it than Anne, but she at least had a broader range available to do what she had decided to do.
"How about you?" she asked, looking curiously at her father's former prize student. "Are you sure you're ready to… retire?"
"I've saved Gotham from the League of Shadows, the Joker, and the League's heirs, and provided a catalyst to encourage change for the future; I've done what I came here to do," Bruce said with a smile. "Gotham has a new Batman available in case the need arises, and I've arranged for Blake to receive what additional training he might need on top of what I can provide him by proxy; right now, all I want to focus on is my life with Selina."
"Good luck with that," Kate said, smiling warmly at the other man.
A former thief might be an odd choice for Gotham's Dark Knight, but considering that Kate was dating a crime writer when she was a former detective, she wasn't exactly in a position to call anyone's choice of partners unusual; he'd found someone who accepted him, and that was what mattered right now.
"Just remember what I told you last time," she said, looking pointedly at Bruce. "If your city really
needs a Batman…"
"I'll come back," Bruce said, nodding reassuringly at her before directing his own stare at her. "And you'll remember what I told you?"
"I'll let you know if I need help," Kate said, nodding back at him. "And… thanks for getting me in touch with Lucius."
"He knows what he's doing and he's willing to help out people in… our line of work," Bruce said with a smile, before he looked more curiously at her. "You're sure about trusting an author as your back-up?"
"You had your butler; I have my boyfriend," Kate said with a shrug. "He knows what he's doing, and he's got the financial resources to help me deal with anything that I can't just get from you; he's unconventional, but he's good at what he does."
"So long as you're sure," Bruce said, smiling at her. "You'll find the relevant equipment waiting for you when you get back to the address you gave me; you're sure it will be safe?"
"It's a former crackhouse we cleared up shortly before Castle and I came here; nobody would have reclaimed it after the amount of attention it attracted, and Ryan assures me there's been no sign of anyone there," Kate said reassuringly. "It won't be pretty, but it gets the job done."
With those words exchanged, the two shook hands one last time, and then both headed for their respective exists, Bruce heading for the Bat on one corner while Kate walked towards the door leading to the stairs to the ground level.
She didn't know what was going to happen to her next, or if her new strategy would actually play out- Gotham had been so corrupt it needed a violent shock, but New York was dealing with a more average crime flow without any single specific problem-, but she and Castle had a plan, and they were going to at least try it out and see what came next.
Detective Kate Beckett had done what she could for New York.
Now, with Castle as her back-up and Ryan and Esposito to serve as her continued contacts- she was
going to make contact with them about this once she had the costume put together-, it was time for the new identity that she was tentatively going to call 'Nightwing'- Castle had suggested it and Kate had admitted that she liked the sound of it- to take on her new role in the city.
With the additional training she'd received from Bruce over the last few days- he might have been out of practise, but a training session of a few hours with Batman was more intense than most people received in several months-, she had a feeling that any assassins her mother's killer tried to send after her or Nightwing would be very
AN 2: And there you have it; the story has concluded, with Kate planning her new life as NYC's own vigilante while Bruce enters retirement until he's needed again.
Will I write a sequel?
No immediate plans to do so, but if the right plot comes to mind…