Katherine Kane could’ve passed out. Instead, her jaw dropped.
She hastily stepped away from the man and woman.
“Bruce Wayne? You can’t be Bruce Wayne! Bruce Wayne was announced to be dead seven years ago!”
“Where’s the definitive proof?” he asked, a hint of a smile touching his lips.
She seemed flabbergasted.
“Proof? Um, the funeral. The gravesite out there by Wayne Manor. Duh.”
The woman chuckled. The man, whoever he was, looked back at her, his expression growing even more amused, before turning his attention back to Katherine.
“I’m rich and rich people can do many things other people can’t.”
He let that sink in and Katherine’s eyes widened in response. “Are you trying to say you faked your death? But why? What’s the point?”
His eyebrow rose. “So you don’t know?”
“Of course she doesn’t know, Bruce,” the woman said with exasperation. “You hid the truth pretty well.”
Katherine was getting confused. “What truth?”
The man looked at her, watching her as if contemplating whether he should say whatever he was about to say or leave her standing in the graveyard dumbfounded. And then finally, he spoke.
The surprise Katherine felt learning that this man was Bruce Wayne was nothing compared to learning that he was the actual dark knight standing before her. She tried to believe he was lying, that this had to be a ridiculous dream her mind had concocted in response to how tired she was, but as she stared at him she recognized something.
It was his eyes.
They had the same intense gaze as the eyes that had looked at her when she was a child and had told her, “You will be important to Gotham one day.”
She cursed. “It is you,” she whispered.
He nodded and the woman smiled.
“I’ve met you before,” she exclaimed. “I mean, I’m sure you don’t remember but-”
He held up his hand. “I do remember you. There was something about you when we first met years ago that…touched me. I couldn’t place it then but I can place it now. I knew one day my time as Batman would end but I hoped that when the time came someone could take my place in protecting Gotham. I haven’t had the need to find that someone because of Robin’s great work in keeping those with evil intentions at bay but the dark days are returning.
“I’ve been watching you. I’ve seen what you are capable of. You have proven to me that you have what it takes to stop the coming threats.”
“But you’re Batman. And you’re alive! Why can’t you just…come back?”
The woman stepped forward, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Bruce is alive, yes. But it took a lot out of him when he saved Gotham from Bane. If he returned so would greater threats. The people like The Penguin think they’re getting by because he’s gone. But if a new hero emerges, one who wields the same symbol of fear that Bruce did, it will show those like The Penguin that there will always be those to fight back.”
Katherine blinked. “Wait a minute? Are you trying to say that I should become Batman?”
The woman smiled. “If the mask fits.”
Katherine’s knees felt weak and her heart began to hammer in her chest. Was this really happening? There was a part of her that wanted to run away, to escape this burden of responsibility that Bruce Wayne and this mysterious woman were trying to place on her, but there was that other side too.
The side that wanted to fight back against those who seek to harm millions for no reason other than their self-pleasure. To fight back against the bullies and evildoers that had taken her family away from her. This was her protective side.
And this side of her was strong.
“Well, we don’t have time to waste,” she said, adopting a determined expression.
Bruce smiled. “There’s a car waiting for you outside the graveyard. It will take you where you need to go.”
Katherine nodded, turning as if to leave, before stopping and outstretching her hand toward his. He shook it.
“Thank you, Mr. Wayne, for believing in me.”
“I knew you would be important to Gotham one day,” he told her. “You haven’t proved me wrong.”
She smiled before hurrying off into the night. Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle stared after her.
“Do you really think she has what it takes?” Selina asked. She looked at him. “You know it’s not going to be easy being the Batman.”
His lips set in a grim line. “No, it isn’t. But she’s faced grief, she’s seen evil, and she has the determination to bring justice to Gotham like I did.”
“But why her? There are thousands of others like just her and maybe even more qualified.”
Bruce looked toward the moon as it peeked from behind a cloud, briefly bathing the graveyard in its mysterious glow.
“Because I trust her to do the right thing.”