Bruce Wayne Is Dead
Bruce Wayne hunched over the control panel. He was
still watching 'his' city, but tonight was a rather special night. He wore the
dark, imposing 'Batman' costume, but the cowl, his final tribute to true
anonymity, lay against his right hand.
The cave felt cold tonight, colder, and lonelier than
usual. Wind whistled through the natural, Gothic arches of the tunnels, and
tonight there was a dampness, that embedded itself in his bones, refusing to be
"So, you're here?" Bruce said suddenly. He
hadn't looked around, nor even checked his surveillance equipment, but he
"Yes." A voice replied.
"Hmmm," Bruce touched his fingers tips
together, bringing them slowly to his lips, "What do you
want...really?" he asked.
"Oh, the usual," the voice replied, with an
almost teasing tone.
The voice pondered for a moment, possibly to give the
question some thought. "I just need to talk to you sometimes, Bruce. I
never could get close enough to pierce that armor, even when I was your partner,
so I just thought maybe if I drop in occasionally when you're alone, I might get
a glimpse of the man beneath the cowl?"
"You knew me well enough back then," Bruce
answered with a sigh.
The chill in the cave froze the air, and Bruce
shivered. The darkness from the very depths of the Batcave appeared to be
rolling towards him like a living entity.
"No," the voice echoed, "I don't think I
ever knew you at all."
"There isn't much to know. There's not much left
inside any more."
The voice laughed coldly, "You always say that,
but I think you're trying to convince yourself more than anyone else. You were
always burdened with a martyr complex."
"Why tonight?" Bruce asked suddenly. He
clasped his hands together, as the chill penetrated his bones, making him shake.
"You're upset. I know what's happened, between
you, and Robin, and it's taken its toll."
"And you have the answers to all my
"I have no answers, just questions."
A small sigh echoed through the cave, "Why do you
push away those who love you, Bruce?"
"Because they die."
"Everyone dies. It's not how you die that marks
the kind of man you are, but how you've lived. So, what kind of man are *you*
"He doesn't exist anymore."
"Bruce Wayne is dead?"
Bruce felt the figure shift, until it stood in the
shadows before him.
"Did *you* kill him, or did he die of
"He died because he no longer had a use."
"Isn't that a little like destroying your soul, so
that the guilt of your wrongdoings has nowhere to rest?"
What do *you* know about my soul?" Bruce snapped
angrily, "Who are *you* to lecture me on the kind of man I am?"
"Oh, I'm not here to tell you what kind of a man
to be, Bruce, that's up to your conscience. You remember 'conscience'....the
part of you that you can't quite shut out....yet. As for your soul, well, I
found that alone, and limping in the dark, so I thought I'd return it to its
rightful owner." The voice almost chuckled.
"You already did that."
Bruce Wayne leaped to his feet, and began to pace.
"I know!" he raged, "Don't you think that I *know* that?"
"Calm down, it's all in the past. Fate has a funny
way of balancing things, and I'm happy now, so I forgive you."
"No, you know that I forgive you, it's you who
can't forgive yourself. Until you can, you'll continue to sit here and brood,
and I'll continue to remind you of it."
Suddenly, a noise from the stairs caused Bruce to look
away from the shadows.
Dick Grayson stepped off the last worn, stone step and
ran his fingers nervously through his hair. "Bruce, I need to talk to
Staring into the shadows, Bruce Wayne screwed up his
eyes, and tried to see the figure, languishing against the cave wall.
"Jason?" he whispered.
"Bruce, you okay?" Dick moved close, resting
his hand on the older man's shoulder, "You look like you've seen a
Trying to smile, Bruce reached out, and ruffled Dick's
long hair with a rare show of tenderness, "No, not a ghost, it was just my
soul limping home."