SPIFFY DISCLAIMER THINGIE! Ah do not own any of the folks heah! DC Comics does! Consarn it all! This is a fanfic written for entertainment purposes only and not intended to infringe upon copyrights held by DC Comics or any others! So don't sue moi! *eeeppp*

Rated G for absolute purity of content! No sex, no drugs no Rock and Roll! Not even a naughty word! Mercy!

Thanks to moi's Sugah, Darth Yoshi for declaring the contest that sparked this fic! Before reading this ya'll want to read "Crisis II" by Darth from which this fic sprang!

http://www.geocities.com/darth_yoshi/altuni.htm is where ya'll will find it:):) Enjoy!

Last Thoughts: Batman

A Batman Tale by Dannell Lites

I never liked "It's A Wonderful Life". Silly film.

And, now, I'm about to live it.

I think we've got perhaps half an hour before the wave front hits. Half an hour until the end. But the end of what? Not the end of us. No, we'll still be alive. That's the frightening part. We just won't be *us*, that's all. We'll wear our familiar faces, but we won't be the same. We'll be different people. The structure, the history, of the entire Universe, is about to change and we'll change along with it. And once it's done we'll never know the difference. Never remember the way things were.

Oh, yes. I got it all straight in my mind. Everything. All of it ...

Except how we'll change.

I never wanted to know what the world would be like without The Batman. I was all to sure I knew the answer, you see. Surely without me the world would be a poorer place. Surely. Or is that only my arrogance rearing its ugly head? I've devoted my life, given up everything; given up *me*, trying to make the world a better place.

I may be about to find out if I've succeeded.

And that frightens me.

Has it all been in vain? Have I fought and bled and struggled for nothing? This new world that's coming, does it have a place for The Batman? And if it doesn't... then where am I? Who am I? I'm not sure I remember how to be Bruce Wayne anymore. He's there, peering out from beneath the shadow of the Bat. He's safe there. No one can hurt him again there. But, pale weak thing thast he is, if I bring him into the light of day, out of the sheltering darkness, will he whither and die?

I hope not.

Talia. When the world changes, will there be a Talia for me when it's done? I love her. Yes, I can say that now. She opened up so much of myself again; gave me back so much of me. The refreshing scent of her hair like a fruitful oasis in the sere desert she loves so well, the joy with which she receives me when we make love ... Will I lose that? The sound of her voice naming me "Beloved". Will anything else ever stir me so?

Alfred loved "It's A Wonderful Life". And Dick... so does Dick. It's one of his favorite films.

Dick.

I grab at that thought like a drowning man. Whatever is coming for me with this new world that's about to overtake us, surely it has to be a better world for Dick than this one.

Please God, let it be a better world for my son.

That's all I ask.

All I wa -

"Master Bruce?"

For some strange reason, the familiar sound of Alfred's dignified English voice fills me with spiraling joy, as though I hadn't heard it in a very long time. Staring at my reflection in the mirror, I suddenly reach out to touch the face staring back at me. Oh, it's my face alright. And yet, it's somehow ... different. Subtly not the same. How could I have awoken with a strangers face, I wonder? It's the eyes, I realize with a start. My eyes aren't the same. Not quite. They're still the same familiar deep blue they've always been. Aren't they? But there's something missing. Something about them has changed. Something ...

There should be pain there. Pain and smouldering anger burning hotly beneath the ice of the glare that greets me in my mirror. I search for it, but it isn't there. It's gone.

Alfred is smiling. "Master Bruce, I really must insist that you make haste, Sir." he chids me. "Your parents are waiting in the limo. You'll miss your flight if you're not careful."

"Flight?"

Alfred smiles even more broadly. "I say, I knew you were nervous young man, but really! I don't recall you being this nervous on your wedding day, if I might be so bold. Although I daresay Misstriss Selina might have other ideas in that regard. Still, I concede it isn't everyday that so young a physcian is sworn in as Surgeon General of the Untied Staes. I must agree, though, that President Kent made an excellent choice."

I blink at the image in the mirror and smile in return. "And Dick?" I try and keep theunbidden urgency from out of my voice as I asked the question. "Where is - ?"

"Young Master Dick and, of course, Misstriss Barbara will be meeting you on board the plane. I, naturally will be caring for Young Master John in the family's temporary absence."

From behind, Alfred reached out and straigtened my tie, crooked as usual. "There now," he declared with satisfaction, patting me on the shoulder, "all shipshape and ready to conqurer the world!"

"Yes, I am," I said.

The End