Fandom: The Dark Knight
Prompt: 71. Of course I realized there was a measure of danger. Obviously I faced the possibility of not returning when first I considered going. Once faced and settled there really wasn't any good reason to refer to it. -- Amelia Earhart. (Used vaguely if at all.)
Summary: Rachel Dawes was somebody who tried.
Notes: Thanks to windrider1 for taking a look at this.
Three people attended Rachel Dawes's funeral. The rest of the city looked forward to Harvey Dent's.
Vicki Vale parked her car and watched from the distance as a plain casket was lowered in the ground. A middle-aged woman was the first one to toss soil in the grave; the mother, Vicki assumed. Second was Bruce Wayne, followed by his man servant. Wayne without a carefree strut was a strange sight.
Vicki observed for a while before she saw a pair of guards approaching her, starting her car in haste. As she drove away she was happy to see she wasn't being followed.
At home, her article about Dent waited for the finishing touches. She didn't look at it for a long time.
Back at school, Dawes was the girl who knew all the rich kids.
She was one year older than Vicki, so they didn't cross each other often, but like everybody else, Vicki was aware of her. Dawes was pretty in a girl next door way, but ordinary enough not to be a threat to the popular crowd. She was nice to the right people, like any average person. What made her somebody instead of a nobody was that she was friends with Wayne. Everybody liked her for no real reasons and Vicki wondered what her deal was.
Then Dawes began to talk.
Before, Dawes was a person who may have intervened if she saw somebody being bullied; later she did intervene, and asked why certain bullies got away with what they did while others didn't. She wanted explanations for why so many unauthorized people were hanging around school grounds and why nothing was ever done about that. Dawes questioned things. Dawes shook things. Her lunch breaks started to become much lonelier.
Rachel Dawes used to be the girl who rich kids said hello to because her mother had worked for them, one of whom was the closest thing to royalty Gotham had ever known. It had been easy to put yourself in her life and pretend you could be a princess. But Dawes decided to be more, and that made Vicki admire her.
Vicki herself had been born controversial and never became less. Reporter's duty was a dangerous one in Gotham and there was nothing else she wanted for her future. But first she needed to survive and internship, something her boss was happy to remind her about.
"Willing to do anything for a story? Fine. Just make sure you'll live long enough to tell it."
She tended to be more worried about the red pen than her life, but the reminder stuck. Eventually it made her dig Dawes up again.
"You keep me informed about the criminal activity in the city, and I make sure the rest of the city will know about it too." Vicki smiled. "Well?"
It had been a while since school, but Dawes hadn't got much older in her eyes. She reminded Vicki of a pixie, slender and so harmless; to see her frown so deep was almost comedic. She didn't look like somebody who had got herself a spot from the D.A's office, even less of a threat to people she would have to deal with. She was perfect for Vicki's needs.
"It wasn't easy for me to get this internship," Dawes said, her voice stern. "How can I be sure helping you won't cause any trouble for me?"
Vicki shrugged. "I wouldn't want to lose a good source, would I?"
"No. It's too risky for both of us." Dawes prepared to stand up, but hesitated. Vicki could tell there was a piece of pity about to be tossed. "You can ask me comments whenever you need to."
"I rather take those from the D.A himself." Vicki was disappointed. Gotham Gazette suffered from selective reporting when it came to names like Falcone or Maroni. D.A suffered from lack of leverage that publicity could give them. Vicki and Dawes were both alone on their fronts. She had thought Dawes would be happy for a chance to start getting things done.
"What does Bruce Wayne think of your promising career as the defender of justice?"
The flinch was brief, but there. Dawes's chair screeched on the floor as she stood up. Vicki hoped her pride was doing the same thing.
"Good bye, Ms Vale."
Later, as Joe Chill's attempt to redeem himself was shot down (literally), Vicki wondered if Wayne was willing to give thoughts on a city that had betrayed his parents. When he disappeared, she thought the chance was lost. When he came back, she had already forgotten.
Dawes, on the other hand, she didn't forget. She didn't get why; Dawes might have got her attention when she decided not to go with the crowd, but she wasn't willing to move as far away from it as Vicki was. She was too much of a rule follower. Vicki was sure that would backfire on her one day.
Meanwhile their internships turned into full-time employments, only Vicki found herself scavenging for other opportunities when Gazette lost its last edge to fear. Gossip magazine jobs wouldn't look good in her credits, but Vicki wasn't too worried. She had a way from dragging herself back from the bottom.
For a while, however, it seemed like Dawes was the one of them who would make it, even becoming an Assistant D.A and making enemies out of same criminals who used to think nothing of her. She took risks. Average girl was willing to take a stand again. Vicki had her own battles to fight, but she was all in for that.
After Batman's arrival, it seemed like there was no reason for both of them not to claw their way all the way up. There certainly didn't seem to be reason for either of them to stop.
When she finally met Dawes again, Vicki was looking for comments. But not from a D.A.
Dawes no longer looked like a pixie, but somehow she had softened, her smile gentle like a mother's as she waited for Vicki to ask about how wonderful it was to work with Harvey Dent. A passive smile. Vicki wanted it gone.
"How did it feel like when Harvey Dent got your job?"
That question wasn't in her interview plan, but she could do real ones later. What she wanted now was for Dawes to drop her mask and that's exactly what she got, the old spirit flashing in Dawes's eyes.
"He has more experience," Dawes said. Her lips curved in a more clipped version of the smile she had worn before. "It was only understandable that he became the D.A instead of me."
Dawes kept smiling, even softening the smile to make it look more natural. Maybe she was hoping that Vicki would move onto their subject, the one city wanted to know about. But Vicki wasn't up for that yet.
"But you have been around Gotham longer. You have tried to draw attention to what's wrong with Gotham for a long time, but it's him whose effort people admire. That must sting, I'm sure."
Dawes looked down and said nothing, leaving Vicki to stare at her in rage.
It had to sting, to be secondary to people shinier than her, Bruce Wayne, Harvey Dent. Something about her got her into law school. Something about her nearly got her a D.A's position. There had to be a human in there who was angry that there had been no thank you at all.
"I think we should go on to the interview."
Dawes leaned back on her chair, meeting Vicki's eyes again. Vicki was the one to force a smile this time.
“I did everything I could and it wasn't enough.”
Vicki blinked. Dawes's face was the same, but charged with everything she had tried not to feel.
That was the last Vicki had to do with Dawes until the news of her death.
The morning after the funeral, Vicki began working on her article again. The deadline was in few hours, but she didn't have much to write.
Rachel Dawes had a legacy.
It wouldn't be much more than a footnote, but people who tried deserved at least that.