9. Epilogue – Veterans of Battle

[November 11, 2015]

Harvey Dent never made it to trial. He was declared mentally incompetent, and sent to Arkham Asylum. He languished in a solitary cell in the maximum security ward for over a week. He could no longer escape medication, and the drugs made him woozy, weak. He sat in his strait jacket on the padded floor, dreaming of better times. Sometimes he talked to Two-Face, who berated him viciously for turning them both in without consulting him.

This Veterans' Day, a new orderly opened the cell door. Harvey lifted his face, and was shocked to see Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce's loyal butler. Unwanted memories of his time spent with Bruce drifted through his mind.

"What are you doing here?"

"Something that I believe to be very unwise," Alfred sighed. "Hold still, Mr. Dent."

Alfred pushed Harvey onto his side. Harvey felt the prick of a needle in his upper thigh. He tried to ask what the hell was going on, but the injection must have contained a powerful sedative. His eyes rolled into his head and he fell unconscious.

Bruce Wayne entered the cell. He knelt down beside Alfred and Harvey. He took the untainted right side of Harvey's face in his hand, and turned his face one way, then the other. The hair that had been scalded off half of his head was growing back, but it was pure white and bristly. Oddly, the rest of his hair was still its usual dark brown color, soft and silky as ever. Though he was unconscious, his left eye remained open, as he no longer had an eyelid to close over it. The effect of that staring dark blue orb in the middle of his scaly purple and scarlet flesh was unnerving. The nerves around his mouth on the left side were deadened, so his lips curled downwards into a perpetual sneering expression. Another two-faced politician, he had said. Bruce kissed his forehead.

"Oh, Harvey," he said miserably. "But it's all right. I'll fix you."

"Shall we go, sir?" Alfred said anxiously. "It's only a matter of time before they find out that the security video feeds are on a loop."

Bruce nodded. He slung Harvey over his shoulder and stood. They left, shutting the door on Harvey's empty cell.

When Harvey woke up, he assumed that he was still in Arkham Asylum. The cell looked a bit larger, but the floors and walls were padded. He was still in his strait jacket and the orange Arkham uniform. But was that a window? There had been no window at Arkham. Had they moved him to another cell? He liked the feel of the sunlight streaming down from the small round window high up on the farthest wall. As the daylight strengthened, he noticed that the angles of this room were also different. The window was a dormer window between two slopes of the ceiling.

When Alfred Pennyworth came in, Harvey remembered everything. He questioned the old butler, but Alfred said nothing. He loosened the strait jacket, then left Harvey with a tray of food. Harvey freed himself of the restraints. He wanted to see what was going on, but he was starving. He devoured the food, and then made his way around the room. The door was heavily barricaded, but it was not one of the steel institutional doors of Arkham. A door had been removed on the far side of the room, and he found a bathroom set into a niche. The toilet was new, steel, and screwed into the floor. The mirror was plastic and screwed to the wall. There was a plain bathtub basin, but no shower. The toothbrush was ridiculously large, like a child's, too chunky to use as an effective weapon. There were no razors.

When Harvey returned to the main area, he found Bruce Wayne waiting for him. He was tense, guarded. Harvey just stared at him.

"Why are you here, Bruce?" he asked. "What is this?"

"I'm going to help you, Harvey," Bruce said. "I'm going to help you myself. You always said that I was a control freak, well, I admit it: I am."

"Where is this?" Harvey asked, though he thought he knew the answer.

"Wayne Manor," Bruce said. "An attic room, specifically."

"You—You set all this up?" Harvey asked incredulously. He wandered around the makeshift padded cell. "I don't believe this. You broke me out of Arkham? Are you nuts?"

"I have more psychiatric training than most of the doctors at Arkham," Bruce said. "As you never allow me to forget, I have the means to supply you with anything that you need. Alfred is more than capable to assist me."

"But why?" Harvey asked. "Why would you do this?"

Bruce closed the distance between them. He took Harvey's face into both hands, one palm clutching smooth skin and the other chaffing rough, ruined muscle. Harvey tried to move away, self-conscious, but Bruce held him in place. Harvey's one good eye went as wide as the other when Bruce kissed him. Only half his mouth was capable of returning the kiss.

"I still love you, Harvey, that's why," Bruce said. He stroked the damaged side of the man's face carefully. "This is just temporary. When you're able, I'll find the best plastic surgeons in the world. There is great work being done repairing nerve damage, as well. You'll be Harvey Dent again someday, you'll see."

"I don't wanna be Dent!" Two-Face suddenly exploded. He hit Bruce's hands away and stormed away from him. "What was Dent ever good for? What did he ever accomplish? Not half as much as I did on Halloween night! I ended the Long Halloween! I ended The Roman! Why the fuck would I want to go back to bein' that good-for-nothing Harvey Dent?"

"Because you are Harvey Dent," Bruce said sternly. "Two-Face may be a part of you, but you're still Harvey Dent. I won't ever let you forget that."

"You're the one that better forget about it!" Two-Face snarled. "Ha! But I guess I should thank you. I've got work to do, and now I'm free of Arkham! Guess you came in handy after all, Brucey."

Two-Face attacked him, but Bruce was prepared. He blocked his heavy blows and restrained him. Two-Face surprised him by smashing the back of his head into Bruce's face. Bruce's nose exploded with blood and he grunted. He was dizzy by the time he had Two-Face under control again, his arms pinned behind his back on the soft floor.

"Rrraagghh! Lemme GO!" Two-Face roared in outrage. "Damn you, Wayne! You fuckin' bastard! You can't do this to me!"

"I can. I will."

Bruce took out a syringe and plunged it into the man's buttocks. Two-Face struggled more violently than ever in the moment before the drug took effect. I'll have to be more careful, and get better restraints, Bruce thought. Harvey was a fit man, but Two-Face's strength is double his, at least.

"Bastard," Two-Face mumbled. "Bastard."

He was limp, so Bruce released him. Two-Face slumped on his stomach on the floor, holding his head in his hands. Bruce wiped blood from his nose on a handkerchief, sniffing.

"You can't do this to me," Two-Face scowled at him. "You sadistic, control freak, sick, twisted son-of-a-bitch. I ain't Harvey, you hear me? I won't let you keep me like some fucking pet. I don't love you, and I never will."

"We'll see about that."

"Asshole," Two-Face mumbled. He tried to rouse himself from the encroaching fatigue. "You fucking asshole. Your parents are lucky that they were gunned down before seein' their kid turn out to be a fucking freak."

Bruce gave the man a hefty swat on the seat of his orange Arkham-issued pants. Two-Face trembled with mortified rage. He tried to get up, but fell back down again. His muscles had turned to jelly.

"Get some rest, Harvey," he said. "I'll talk to you again when you've calmed down."

"I'll kill you for this!" Two-Face yelled, pounding a fist on the padded floor. "I'll fucking kill you, Bruce Wayne!"

Bruce left him there. Alfred was waiting anxiously in the hall.

"How did it go, sir?"

"As well as could be expected, Alfred," Bruce said. "Two-Face is out for my blood. But Harvey is still in there. He kissed me back. I felt him there, loving me like he always did. He's still in there, so he can still be saved. I just have to work on controlling Two-Face. Harvey has to learn to be the dominant personality. If he can get that far, then he has a chance."

"Do you really think so, sir?"

"I have to believe that," Bruce said. "It's the only thing I have left to hope for."

"Very well, sir."

That night, Jim Gordon stood alone on the GCPD rooftop, staring at the sky. The Bat Signal had been glaring into the night for hours now. He took a drag on his cigarette, swore. The door to the roof opened. Renee Montoya came up to him.

"He didn't answer tonight, either, sir?"

"No," Jim said wearily. "No, he didn't."

"I'm sorry, sir."

"It's just 'Jim', Montoya," Jim said for the hundredth time. "And I'm sorry, too. I think what happened to Harvey Dent broke something in him. I thought the Batman was all hard edges and strength, but he must have cared for Harvey as much as I did. Or maybe he's just chasing Dent down. I can't believe he escaped from Arkham."

"Or maybe Batman took him out of Arkham," Renee suggested hesitantly. "The tech used to fool the security systems was similar to Batman's equipment. Do you think he might have taken him out and—well, ended him?"

"Batman doesn't kill, Montoya," Jim said. He paused. "No. No, I can't believe that. I don't want to believe that. That would be too much. No, I think Harvey's still alive. All I can hope is that Batman is chasing him. I would hate to think he's given everything up."

"So would I."

"But wherever he is, he's not here," Gordon said. "It looks like we're on our own from now on. It's going to be a long, cold winter. A very cold season, this year."

Jim threw his cigarette on the floor and snuffed it out with his shoe. He gave the Bat Signal one last forlorn look, and then shut it off. The night was suddenly very dark, indeed.

End –