Rachel Dawes had picked up her childhood friend, Bruce Wayne, and was driving her car, taking the two of them out to dinner.
As usual, Bruce Wayne seemed distracted.
No wonder, Rachel thought – it was almost June 26th, the anniversary of the day – the night, rather – when Bruce Wayne's parents were murdered before his eyes. As a child, he watched helplessly as the crime unfolded before his eyes.
Her mother had worked at Wayne Manor, where Rachel and Bruce played together. Later, her mother had struggled to get her into a prep school, where she and Bruce had some of the same classes. They had grown up together, but in some ways, they had grown apart. Rachel remained focused on her studies, and went to college. Only in her mid-twenties, she was already a law student at Gotham University. With her interest in law, she was an assistant to Deputy District Attorney Harvey Dent, who everyone in Gotham City agreed was on track to be district attorney some day. Rachel was acknowledged as the brightest assistant in the entire DA's office, and had a reputation for honesty and hard work. It was believed she was perhaps fifteen years or so behind her boss, on a track for promotion, and it was not hard to imagine not only Harvey Dent as Gotham's DA some day, but even Rachel Dawes as his successor, as well.
"Penny for your thoughts, Bruce," Rachel interrupted, signaling for the off-ramp from the Gotham Expressway.
"Just wondering what life holds in store for me," he answered distantly, gazing out the window. "You seem to have your life together, Rachel. I don't. I managed to graduate college, but don't know what to do." He looked at her. "You're driving; I'm just along for the ride."
"You can drive, if you want," she smiled. "What do you want from life?"
Bruce Wayne thought for a moment, then answered matter-of-factly: "The man who killed my parents... I want him to die."
The time as June 26th approached was always the hardest, she thought.
"Bruce, you're a prisoner of your past," she began, not sure how to proceed. "In six months, it will be a new millennium. You need to put it behind you."
"What? My parents' death?"
"Your fixation on the man who killed them." She slowed for a stop light. "He's in prison, Bruce."
Gazing up at the sky, as night was falling, late in the evening in Gotham City, Bruce commented, "You know, it's a beautiful night out."
"Yes, it is," Rachel agreed, pleased that Bruce was changing the subject.
"You are dedicating your life to justice, Rachel," Bruce turned suddenly. "Is it just that he is able to enjoy this evening, even if he's looking at it through a window with bars, and my parents cannot enjoy it – not at all?"
"You're right, Bruce, I am dedicating my life to justice. And I know enough to know that what you're looking for is revenge."
"Sometimes they're the same thing."
"They're never the same thing, Bruce. One is like fresh water – it may not be enough to quench the thirst, but it helps. The other is like salt water – it only makes you thirstier." She stopped at another light, and looked at her companion. "I pursue justice, an angel that tries to right a wrong." She paused. "In your pursuit of revenge, you are only running from a demon."
She was at first unsure why her husband had insisted that she do it this way. Now, she thought she understood.
When he first enrolled her in martial arts classes, and later in firearms and other kinds of classes, he insisted she use her maiden name. She thought it strange, but went along with him.
Now she understood. Nick was in trouble at work, and wanted her to be able to start a new life with a name that would not be soiled by any association with him, and with what he was doing.
Nick was an agent with the Gotham Bureau of Investigation. But, as she had found out, he was dirty – he was also on the payroll of Carmine Falcone, a Gotham businessman and reputed organized crime boss.
So, Selena Kyle's certificates and diplomas for all her martial arts and other training were in her maiden name, Selena Lyon.
And, a lioness she was, she thought, recalling how her long day had begun, with her gently stroking Miss Kitty's chin as Selena got ready to go on her interview. Now, towards the other end of a long day, she had interviewed with three people, and was about to interview with a senior director for a special job in the best company in Gotham City.
"Thank you for coming in to Wayne Enterprises today, Ms. Lyon. My name is Lucius Fox. Please, come in and have a seat."
Bruce Wayne turned to Rachel.
"I'm planning to leave for Asia soon. I am planning to attend some special schools there. I'll probably be gone for about a year."
"What kind of schools? Language schools?" Rachel knew that was not it. Wayne's interest had been in martial arts and athletics. She expected that he was going to study some exotic martial art.
"Your time here in Asia is coming to an end, but I will show you Russia and Europe. I will show you Moscow, I will show you St. Petersburg... and from there, we can go to Venice! You know, they call St. Petersburg 'The Venice of the North'. Let's visit both cities, and see which we like better!" She stopped, took his hand, and looked into his eyes.
Bruce Wayne looked into Talia al Ghul's eyes. What he saw was so alluring, so enticing – as if he could see into heaven.
But, something there frightened him, too.