After her mother dies, Talia lets her hair grow.
It had always been an unspoken rule between her and her mother. In this place, she must appear as a boy - live and move as one, hide in plain sight. Only a handful of men in the prison know that she is a girl: the prison doctor, the two inmates who assisted him in delivering her, and the man who occupies the cell next to her and her mother.
(The two inmates die less than a year after she is born, she learns. Both have their throats slit in the night. Bane never confesses to her, but she knows it as an absolute truth: he kills them for her.
It won't be the last time.)
Talia only learns his name after he saves her. He doesn't tell her; he doesn't tell her anything, doesn't speak to her, simply watches from across his cell that becomes her new home, adjacent to the filthy floor and bars that she had shared with her mother. She finds it carved into one of the cell walls, low and hidden out of view, the same night one of the men who killed her mother moves into her vacated cell.
B A N E
The dirty knife used to carve it lies discarded, covered in dust and cobwebs. She lifts it and feel the blade against her thumb. She is only six, but she imagines herself holding him down, hurting him, ending him; she has seen endless men die in this place. It is as commonplace and predictable as the sun rising and setting.
Bane finds her like this, hunched over with the knife, her eyes trained on the sleeping man less than ten feet away. He doesn't try to take the knife from her, just watches her with quiet reflection as she feels herself burn down to nothing but rage.
(In the morning, she wakes to find the man in the cell beside them dead, his mouth open in a silent scream, a loud red mouth sliced open under his adam's apple, his eyes gouged out.
The knife is missing from her hand.)
It is then that she stops cutting her hair. In truth, it had always been her mother who had done it, cupped Talia's small head in her hands and whispered stories of her life outside of the pit, stories of the conquests of her father as she shaved back the ever-growing length of hair that Talia's mother had said was the same colour as her father's.
Talia lets it grow.
Four months later, she wakes with him on top of her. She sees the blade in Bane's hand, the harsh glint of it in the night. Normally it is pitch black in the hole after the sun sets, but when the moon is full and at the right angle in the sky, slivers of its light pierce the cages at the bottom.
She tries to cry out, but his other hand slips over her mouth.
Shhh, little one, he says as he raises the razor to her hair, already damp and slick, and drags the sharp blade against her scalp.
He does not stop when she starts crying, desperate sobs that make her entire body shake. His face blurs beyond the tears as she feels the softs brush of her cut hair fall against her ears.
(It is the last time she will ever cry like this.)
They learn not to touch her.
The first man to, an Algerian ten years into the pit, grabs her by the the neck one day when she is foolish enough to leave Bane's cell to grab the few rations that have been thrown into the ground from above.
He leaves ugly bruises deep in her flesh as he cuts off her her airway, smiling as she gasps for breath. In here, cruelty is its own form of amusement, and the smaller you are, the more appealing a victim.
She hears the sounds his bones make when Bane snaps his arms in two. She turns away when his screams turn wet as he drowns in his own blood.
No one touches her again.
It lasts a few years.
(She asks him once how old he is. He looks younger than almost all of the men who populate the walls of their prison, his face not scarred or wrinkled. He tells her he does not know, and she believes him. Only she scratches out the days, weeks, months, years. It is a mistake of youth; the rest know that time is torture best left to slip by.)
By twelve, the binding that Bane secures her breasts with starts to expand no matter how tightly they draw it. She's starting to bleed too. The evidence of her impending womanhood is growing impossible to conceal - her head may be shaved, but her eyes and face have grown round and softer despite the harshness of this place, her mouth and the flare of her hips decidedly female.
She tucks herself into him at night, their bodies shoved together on the small cot of his bed. They don't take the chance of being separated any longer. She does not tell him, but she feels safe beside him, the bulk and warmth of him a shield. Talia has never trusted another the way that she trusts him.
He has taught her to be a weapon in her own right, how to hurt a man without pause, how to be fast and strong despite her size. But the others have begun looking, their eyes shifting to her, rumours growing so loud that even she can hear them. Bane had all but claimed her five years ago to keep her safe, but soon it will no longer matter; a woman amongst wolves has no owner.
His left thumb brushes over her shoulder until he finds the scar he gave her sparring more than a year ago, teaching her how to evade the blade of a knife. (He hadn't apologized, though he had looked disgusted at the sight of her blood on his hands.) His touch is a comfort; her life is consumed by deprivation, and although Bane is not a tactile man, he seems to suffer through it for her.
The truth is that Bane is the closest thing to a father she has ever known. Family. She has been with him longer than any other.
He does not look at her when he speaks.
You need to rise, little one.
She watches the mob consume him below as she climbs upward, the heat stronger and air fresher as the sun hits her directly for the first time in her life. She looks down and listens.
It will be the last time she sees his true face, the shape of his mouth.
She does not look back down again.
Talia will come back for him.
It takes Talia the better of four years to find her father deep in the Himalayas.
(By the time she reaches his door, she has killed many men, tortured locations and money out of them, desperate to find her father. When she does finally find the League of Shadows's base hidden deep within the mountains, it takes Ra's less than a minute to understand who she is - a small, if cold, comfort.)
It's almost another six months before she convinces him to go back for Bane, though it is only through her own threats to do it herself and the promise of the possibility of punishing those responsible for her mother's death. Now, in her seventeenth year, it is clear how much she has grown to look like her mother. Talia barely remembers her face, the memory consumed by time and darkness, but her father still carries a photo of her, how she had looked before being condemned to the pit, a light in her eyes that she does not remember her mother having. It is the only thing of her mother Talia does not carry.
The truth is that Talia is unsure if Bane is even still alive, if she will return to the desert to find dried bones beneath her feet.
What she finds... is something between the two.
They haul Bane up from the ground, his face bound with bloodsoaked cotton, and lay him at her feet. His hand catches her wrist as she tries to unwrap it, but he is too weak to protest further than a sharp pressure over her pulse point. It is only when she pulls the cotton that reeks of death back and sees the mess of flesh beneath that she realizes Bane has not recognized her; it is clear in his eyes, in the loathing there.
Talia is filled with the same rage she felt watching her mother being hauled away, a heat that sears her down to her bones, makes her wants to peel flesh and skin back until the beast inside of her is sated.
The doctor, one of her father's men says. He failed to properly treat the wounds from the other men.
She touches one of the many gouges over Bane's mouth, her fingers coming back bloody. Talia imagines that she is wearing the same face that Bane did all those years ago, his hands covered in the blood from the wound on her back. She is responsible for this.
Blind him, she orders. Make him suffer. An eye for an eye.
Below her, she can see the men who hurt her - who hurt her mother, who hurt Bane - resting at the feet of her father's men. Her men, now. The rest can burn.
Out of the corner of her eye, Talia sees Ra's smile.
(The smell of burning flesh rises from her former tomb.)
She leaves him to heal for a month.
The healers work on the North side of the complex. Normally the high altitude makes cell regeneration troublesome, but the healers work magic that allows the oxygen-thin air to feed the body at a rate several times normal. She has watched broken bones and devastating wounds heal in a matter of days with little pain and minimal scarring. But the infection has set deep in Bane's body, the doctor's missteps sealing his fate. There is little they can do.
After five weeks, the healers tell her that the flesh has healed, but the nerves underneath have been forever damaged, that the agony that he is experiencing will only grow with time. The venom that they are currently administering will soon be required constantly at therapeutic levels to stave off the pain.
They show her the mask.
When she goes to see him, the confusion is still set on his face. Talia can sense that he still does not recognize her, but the seed of familiarity is there, and he's simply trying to plant it. His body is still acclimatizing itself to the venom - lethargic, his mind cloudy. The restraints attached to his bed have not been necessary as he has healed, something she is profoundly grateful for. She refuses to be the source of further imprisonment for him.
The healers will have told him nothing of this place, who she or her father are, about the League of Shadows. They and his guards are too disciplined. Bane too is disciplined, and he is not the type to beg; he will wait for answers, bide his time. But she knows him too well, and she can sense the curiosity within.
He finally asks. Who are you? It comes out slightly garbled, and it's odd to hear his voice like this, so different from the authoritative boom that kept her safe as a child. It still has the same strength resting below it though. Even in this state, Bane is not a weak man.
Talia takes his hand and lifts it to her shoulder, slipping it under her shirt to find the scar he left. Shockingly, he does not fight her, instead letting her guide his body freely.
His eyes widen momentarily as recognition sinks in. Bane pushes his fingers into her skin, feeling the little knot of scar tissue just below the surface. They are calloused and rough, and she smiles sadly, briefly before she nods.
Little one, he says.
(It will be the last thing she ever hears in his real voice, the sound of him forever changed by the mask.)
Yes, she replies, though she is no longer little, though she has passed the age he had been when he had become her protector. His head rests in her hands now, her fingers tracing over the scarred landscape of his mouth, her body bent over his from where she's seated on his bed. Talia can see the shivers of pain going through his body as she touches him there, aware that this may be the last time she sees this. She cannot help herself; she leans down and kisses him, her lips pressed against the bumpy rise of his. His shock is a palpable thing between them, but he does not stop her as she tilts her head and presses farther in, her tongue quietly finding his.
His left hand grips her upper arm as the other continues to press down on her scar.
Behind her, the door opens. The healers have come with their mask.
I'm sorry, she says against the ruins of his mouth.
(They are not the same. She will apologize for her wounds.)
It shouldn't shock her how well he adapts to life amongst the League. Her father personally oversees his conditioning, though she has begun to see the toll that this takes on him. It is clear to Talia that her existence is a daily reminder of her father's failure to protect his wife, and that Bane's disfigurement, his growing rage and unbridled violence, is a reminder of what she had been subjected to.
(There are moments best not left to dissection where she wonders if Ra's secretly wishes that Bane had saved her mother and not her.)
The base is not a place of rumours. Men of discipline do not whisper, but Talia is sure of the eyes that watch her slip into Bane's room in the night. Though she has been away from him for years, she has never quite learned to sleep soundly without him, and his return to her ushers in the deepest, most restful sleep she has had in close to half a decade.
Bane still lets her into his bed. It echoes of her childhood comfort, but the way that they hold one another speaks to something different growing between them. She is no longer a child. She is no longer in need of his protection, but he gives it and she willingly accepts it. The difference now, she thinks, is that he seeks her protection in return.
She gives it willingly.
(Ra's asks her only once. Who is this man to you?
Her answer is simple and spoken without pause. He is Bane. )
Although she is primarily her father's pupil, she trains with Bane as well, much to his disapproval. Her father's men seem too unwilling to fight her, hold back even when she demands that they not. Bane is not afraid to use his strength on her; they are both creatures of discipline, of reality and balance. A fight half-fought is in service to no one.
Bane has always been strong, always a physical force to be reckoned with, but his power grows exponentially as he trains, his wide shoulders and thick arms growing until he towers over her. Ra's calls him a frighteningly apt pupil, both a sponge and a mirror at the same time, absorption and reflection in equal measure.
Bane is fast, but she is faster. This is where she bests him.
His eyes smile up at her the first time she lays him flat. Talia is on him in an instant, the knife pressed securely to his throat. She nicks him lightly with it, an empty threat. The trickle of blood slides down his neck and pools near his chest.
Well done, little one, he says, the sound of his voice tinny from the mask, but she can hear the change in tone as his hand coming up to rest along the line of her jaw. His thumb brushes over her lower lip and she finds that she wants to kiss him again, wants to see the real flesh hidden under the mask.
Instead, she touches the body-warm metal of the mask and imagines the scarred flesh underneath.
Again, my friend, she says, pushing herself off of him.
Ra's waits until she is gone to do it.
She returns from Beijing to find the room next to hers empty. She had originally been housed in the main suite with her father. Once Bane had returned, she had demanded a room with the men, a request that Ra's had begrudgingly agreed to, though it had been mostly a formality. Most nights had been spent in the room beside hers, the room that now lies empty, barren of any traces of him. Gone is the modified legionnaires jacket that she had commissioned in Egypt, a fur-lined collar that protected him from the harsh Tibetan cold, and the cases of venom he kept tucked under the small worktable near the window are missing.
Where is he? Even Talia knows better than to take a less than respectful tone with Ra's, particularly in front of others, but she cannot help the mix of anger and fear that slips out of her mouth as she speaks.
Her father motions for his advisors to leave, an order they follow without question. He is gone, my child. The door clicks shut behind her. The League has excommunicated him.
Her sadness and fear are a physical thing, a repressive cloak that descends upon her until she struggles to find a breath that will take to her lungs. Talia tries to comprehend a reason for such a dramatic step; for the League, excommunication is a fate worse than death and levied less frequently. Those who are excommunicated are condemned to live amongst those without balance, to suffer their fate.
(In her mind, she wonders if her father spared Bane to save him from her eternal hatred, if it was his kindness to her and to him, a consolation gift for saving his child but failing to save his wife.)
Talia imagines her mother standing in front of her own father, begging for the the life of Ra's Al Ghul, a love so deep she would condemn herself and her unborn child to darkness. She had never understood it, but standing here now, she begins to comprehend the panic and desolation that comes with being unable to protect those closest to you, those you love.
You sent him away to assuage your own guilt, Talia accuses.
Ra's does not answer. He is a great many things, but he is not a liar, and they both know the truth behind Bane's exile.
He is a man who has been bent by this world, he says finally. There is no longer a balance within him - the pain and his need to inflict has corrupted him. You are blinded by your affection. He is a rabid dog that will bite down until he finds bone.
If you asked him to is the unspoken end to his words. For the League, there is no allegiance to anything but the cause, to serving the purpose of balance, of restoration. There is a reason they recruit men without families, without ties to the world. But despite the truth in her father's words, it is not the only reason. Her own guilt only wishes it were so.
Talia steps back from her father's table, maps and ancient texts spread across it, and he senses her decision. Would you choose this man over family?
Her answer is instantaneous, said without thought. He is family. She too is a rabid dog, looking for bone. The way her father's mouth draws tight lets her know she has found it. It is the truth though, and despite whatever is changing between them, he is a part of her and she a part of him.
Talia, Ra's says sharply, just the slightest hint of desperation in his voice, though he masks it well. If you leave, I cannot protect you.
She understands what he means, what he is trying to tell her. There is no relinquishing the League of Shadows; either you belong or you are exiled. Even she is subject to these laws. If she leaves, she will be as dead to her father as Bane is.
The only thing that surprises her is how easy the decision is to make.
I have never needed your protection, she answers.
Talia searches for months. In Dhaka, Cairo, Kinshasa, Amman, Karachi. Volgograd, Algiers and Marrakesh. She follows in his footsteps, always behind. It disturbs her that she can no longer predict his movement, that the certainty with which she once knew him is suddenly tested.
So she gives him her legend.
The boy that climbed out of the pit, that achieved what no other man had ever. A child born in darkness.
(It is easy enough to start, the underground ripe with rumours of the man who wears the mask - an unforgiving, disciplined man. The story finds fertile ground and starts to grow, for men are always desperate for answers they do not have.)
Talia gives him her legend and waits for him to find her.
Bane finds her in Mombasa. She has hidden herself away in a small estate outside of the crushed city, the name on her papers Alice Boudreau, but he finds her anyway.
Little one, he says. The months have not changed him; he looks just as she remembers him from the mountain base. He has taken to wearing the same clothes he did there, despite the heat.
No, she answers. Not anymore.
She can tell from his eyes that he is smiling under the mask.
No, he corrects. Always.
Talia becomes the Hand of Bane. It is the moniker bestowed upon her by those few who have managed to see her outside of the carefully selected men that Bane surrounds himself with. Little is known about the woman that travels with the mercenary in the mask other than her sharp strategic planning and the exalted, protected place she holds by his side.
Even so, her existence is mere rumour; Bane keeps her wrapped in shadows, a place familiar and comforting to her.
(She will not hear her name again for many, many years. It will come from her own lips, her knife sunk into Bruce Wayne's side.)
They travel together, amassing an incredible wealth and frightening reputation. Talia finds herself drawn increasingly to the tasks of the League of Shadows, and Bane follows her. They elevate and destroy warlords and dictators in equal turn, decimate and renew. Create balance where there is none, order where there is chaos. Chaos where there is counterfeit calm.
Both creatures of discipline and principle to the end.
Talia shares his bed.
Bane is not a gentle man in the same way that she is not a fragile woman. When they spar, he does not pull his punches, and neither does she; when they fuck, he does not hold back and neither does she.
He leaves bruises on her thighs, a burn in the muscles there from spreading to accommodate his hips. His weight above her - on her - presses her down into the mattress of whatever bed in whatever room in whatever city they happen to be in hard enough that her spine always protests.
Bane likes to hear her beg. And she will. She thinks it is because it is a sound he knows only he will ever hear. They are only weak for one another.
He pleads with his eyes. It has been said that Bane's eyes are cold, that they are filled with death, but they are the part of him that speaks to her most clearly, that she can read better than any book. It is the only part of him that has never changed, that remains the same as she has always remembered them. They are not cold to her, not at all.
(He likes to press his fingers inside of her and watch what it does to her face, lock his eyes with hers until she has to close them against the pressure and pleasure. Bane has always enjoyed witnessing his handiwork.)
She wonders idly about the other women that might have shared his bed before he found her again, if they had feared the mask silently as much as she accepts it as part of him, a burden he carries because of her. It reminds her of what they have given for one another, and Talia finds that she cannot stop touching it in the same way that his hands, his fingers, gravitate to her mouth. To touch, to make her taste.
When he is inside of her, filling her, she feels a balance that escapes her in every other waking moment. She finds a peace in the violence of his hips and her hands. Pleasure is only to be found on the other side of pain, and they give it to each other in equal measure.
(She loves him, but she cannot say it. He will never say it, but she knows it without question.)
Ra's al Ghul is dead.
Bane tells her in Khartoum. They have just killed an arms dealer based west of the city, stripped his network of its resources and burned the rest to the ground. The streets still smell of soot and ash as half of the city lies in ruins. Bane has already sent his men to Bangladesh on her orders; he has only come back to retrieve her.
He does not tell Talia that he is sorry, does not offer condolences; he is not the type of man to give it and she is not the type of woman to receive it. Her father's death feels like a painless wound, but she can feel the flesh under it ripening with infection.
In Gotham, Bane answers as if reading her mind. The plans for Gotham had been in the making for as long as she had known her father, the first of the five cities he had planned to reduce to rubble.
Who killed him? Talia asks.
I do not know, little one.
She can see the billowing smoke in the distance rising into the storming sky.
Find out, she demands.
Three years go by before the flesh wound goes necrotic. Talia wakes one morning and the thought of moving through another day with the weight of her father's death on her back becomes too much.
(Death has the tendency to balance the good and the bad, lay waste to the memories that embitter and instead plant fresh regret. Talia never knew her father more than a student knows her teacher, but despite his tresspasses against her, against Bane, he was family. The last of it she had.)
The courtyard below them in Marrakesh is bustling with life - street merchants and taxis buck for space on the narrow road, and the noise, even up on the balcony, is near deafening.
Bane is standing in the doorway watching her, deep enough in the room that he is not visible from the street.
I need to finish my father's work.
This is not a road down which she can ask Bane to follow.
(She knows he will anyway.)
I know, he answers. We will.
Her flight to London leaves in the morning. Her new passport and papers sit near her luggage, Miranda Tate scrawled on the tags.
Before she leaves Cyprus, Bane culls his men. Every man that has seen her face, knows of her existence as more than rumour, dies. He flies across the globe dispatching them as they finalize their plan. There is no one left other than Bane who knows of their ties to one another, who knows her as anything other than Miranda Tate, a well-educated socialite from Saint-Martin left extraordinarily wealthy by her elderly father's death.
Talia has never asked this of him before, but he acquiesces without hesitation. She has not seen him without the mask since the night it was put on him, but she is the only person alive who has seen what lies below.
She presses her face against his, skin to skin. His breath hits her mouth, shaky with pain.
I will see you soon, Talia says.
It takes years.
She feels Bane's absence like a hole, though it is filled with purpose.
The first time Miranda meets Bruce Wayne, he smiles weakly at her and holds out his hand for her to shake. She feels her lips press up delicately, a disturbing reflex of living in a world where she must appear as something she is not.
Miranda did not expect him to be as broken a man as she finds. This man - the man that walks with a limp, thin and sunken on the inside - does not look like the student of a man like Ra's al Ghul. He does not look like the masked vigilante that brought a city to its knee. Like a man who could have killed her father.
He looks like a man.
She is, perhaps, her father's daughter after all. Rage, fear, regret. Emotion clouds judgement, and she does not hate Bruce Wayne like she once did. She pities him. This man ended her father the same way that she will end him. But this is no longer about her father's death, but rather his legacy. This is their work. This is their sacrifice.
(Later, she will come to respect him begrudgingly. Despite his broken spirit, he is clever, and when he hides the fusion reactor that she has helped him build, floods the media with claims of its failure, and then disappears into Wayne Manor, she wonders if she has underestimated him.)
The postcard comes in the late spring, just as Gotham starts to heat with the onset of summer weather. It is delivered to Miranda's apartment near the heart of the city, a loft that overlooks one of the last green spaces left in the concrete city.
It is a print of Rubens' Massacre of the Innocents. She recognizes Bane's surprisingly elegant handwriting on the back immediately.
We have him. The fire rises.
The first time she sees Bane in almost five years is across the Wayne Enterprises Boardroom. She feels something warm and familiar curl low in her gut as Bane speaks, his voice filled with derision as he addresses her and the rest of the board.
Miranda pastes a reaction of shock and the ever slight hint of fear on her face, but in truth, she feels the thrum of excitement in her veins at the escalation of their plans, at the nearness of Bane.
He does not touch her once during their travel to the fusion reactor, but she can feel his eyes on her, and she welcomes it, a measure of comfort.
Bane finds her later though, in empty halls of the building downtown that the majority of the board has been forced into by Bane's men. A few slip out, trying to find their families, but most stay, grateful and unquestioning of the strange protection that Bane's men seem to be offering.
Where is Wayne? Miranda asks him. Did you kill him?
That had not been part of the plan. Bane, however disciplined he is, has a tendency to lose himself in battle. Ra's had not been wrong all those years ago; only she knows how to temper the violence in him.
I took him home, Bane answers. She watches his eyes narrow and knows he means their home, the pit in the desert that birthed the both of them. He needs to watch.
That had not been part of the plan either. She thinks about Wayne in the cell she shared with Bane, torn between pleasure and the odd feeling of something sacred being desecrated.
Bane eyes lock on hers; the heat from it singes her skin. I could smell you all over him. He pushes his back off the wall and takes a step toward her. I can still smell him on you.
A necessary evil, my friend, she answers as his fingers clasp around her elbow. He does not understand her reasoning, but her actions have purpose. She is not simply building a contingency plan - she wants her betrayal to cut deep. The weakest part of Bruce Wayne is his broken heart.
Is it now?
This is an odd colour on him. It touches on jealousy, she thinks, even though he knows without question that they both understand what Wayne's role is in this.
He presses up against her, and she closes her eyes and lets herself feel the wide, threatening heat of him. His hand releases her elbow to slide around to the small of her back as the other slips the cool metal trigger for the bomb into her hand.
So be it, little one.
(Bane makes the Wayne Enterprises Board untouchable to his men under the guise of wanting them to see the glorious outcome of their hard work. None of his men know who she is or what she is to Bane, and she assumes it is the only way Bane can figure out to keep her safe without exposing her.
He had wanted to her join him, sure of Wayne's ultimate demise, but Miranda has underestimated him once. She has her father's discipline and patience.
When Bane lets loose the men of Blackgate, she notices patrols of his men circling around the building every hour. She can protect herself - something he knows - but he cannot help himself.
Miranda had noticed the stream of men over the years that had taken to following her, occasionally taking photos, but mostly an odd, silent presence. At first she had considered corporate espionage, that Daggett was finally attempting to make his move on the board, but there had been something about the men that silently screamed League of Shadows, the sort of dark threat that only came from men of discipline.
She had always known Bane was watching her. Always her protector.)
The fire burns on the bridge as they watch from the roof of the courthouse. He is wearing the jacket she had made for him when she was twenty, the collar pulled tight to the back of his neck, the only part of him that ever grew cold in the Himalayas.
(She has already changed into her old clothes. She had been shocked to find that he had brought them with him when he came to Gotham, that he had kept them all these years. She feels reborn, like she is shedding an old, unwanted skin.)
The urge to touch him is unbearable. But they have come this far.
Keep her close, Bane says. He'll come for her.
His men look puzzled; Bane is speaking to her. Of Miranda.
A necessary evil, she says.
Talia stares at Bane as she recounts their story, as she claims the legend she had given up to him years earlier, says the name that she had cast aside, that she has not heard in so long it has all but become foreign to her. It slides back over her like a second skin.
His only crime was loving me.
The affection she feels in her heart for Bane is only matched by the anger she feels toward Wayne as she twists the knife ever so slightly. Talia repairs the mask and watches the pain slip from Bane's eyes, replaced with a mirror of her own softness. The only thing in this bent world that truly evokes it.
She tries to imagine that Wayne has any idea of the kind of loyalty, the kind of devotion and love it takes to spend your life with someone that has given everything for you, that would sacrifice without question. And what she would give in return to him if required.
(She cannot help but think about her mother and her father. Talia presses the knife in to the hilt and listens with sick pleasure to the gasp it prompts from Wayne.)
Bane slips from her, moving only to string up Wayne. She watches his fingers tighten as the trigger fails. Arrogance is the downfall of every man, Ra's once told her, but it is a vice she cannot help. She will see this plan to fruition. Gotham will be ashes that blow to the edges of the world.
This is her father's legacy. This is Bane's legacy. This is her legacy.
Don't kill him, she orders, though she's sure that once she leaves, Bane will no longer be able to help himself. I want him to feel the heat. Feel the fire of twelve million souls you failed.
Talia touches the mask and wishes she could feel the skin beneath it one last time.
Goodbye, my friend.
When she walks away, she does not look back.