Chapter One: He's Still Alive
I could do it.
The thought occurs to me almost out of nowhere. Well, not completely out of the blue either. It wasn't the first time it has crossed my mind.
It wouldn't take long.
I stood on the roof of my 20-floor apartment building. There was hardly any wind, and the breeze that whispered through my hair was inviting. It had just started to sprinkle, the sky warning Gotham that it would soon open its arms. A roll of thunder accompanied the breeze, greeting my ears like a long-lost friend. Like any other moment as this, the storm would pass but not without suffering some destruction.
Standing on the edge, on the brink of the abyss, knowing all it took was just stepping off the ledge to end it all. I felt light-headed with the knowledge of how quickly I could die, how brief the fall would be. And I started laughing.
I could do it. Take one step off the ledge...just one step, that's all.
How easy it was! The fall itself would be liberating, and I would not be able to stop it from happening. The chances of me living after jumping from this height was about 1 in a 100. Good odds in my opinion.
"What are you doing, Sylvia?"
The excitement that I had been feeling slightly died as I turned slowly to see my brother standing just a few feet away. The one and only James Gordon here to save yet another life. His face...how worried and concerned he looked. He held a gun—his gun—in his hand, probably having pulled it out from instinct.
"Thinking." I answered quietly, then I turned to look down.
"Why are you up here?" Jim asked gently, sheathing his weapon. He held out his hand to me. "You know you don't want to do this."
"I know that, do I?" I asked softly, still staring down at the looming traffic below.
Bright lights, all the street lamps were on. Cars bustled, and restaurant neon signs indicating they were open flashed like Christmas tree lights. I smiled in spite of myself. Honestly, I had not felt so relieved, so free up until this point.
"You're hurting, I know." Jim said quietly, nodding. "I know you are. But look, this isn't the way to go."
"You're right. Maybe you should bring me to the pier and shoot me."
Jim frowned as I carefully moved away from the ledge, approaching him.
He knew what I was talking about, even without me mentioning anything about Oswald Cobblepot.
"Is that why you're up here?" asked Jim incredulously, coming closer. He gently touched my shoulders, like he was making sure I wasn't physically injured in any other way.
Physically, I was fine.
"You took him from me, Jim." I barely managed a calm voice.
"YOU KNOW WHO!" I shouted; my voice carried over the rooftops as I shoved him away.
Jim stared at me.
"You and Cobblepot…." Jim whispered in disbelief.
"You didn't tell me…"
"Of course, I didn't tell you; you wouldn't have approved," I remarked harshly.
I turned and looked down at the ledge once more. Being angry at my brother for dispatching my boyfriend was not going to replace what I'd lost. I knew that, more than anyone. Oswald and I had been together for over half a year, but those months had been…. magical. He had been an umbrella boy for Fish Mooney, but I saw much, much more in him. More than he even saw in himself.
And Jim shot him at the pier. It didn't take long for the rumor to spread, and the rumor itself—as a rumor was in Gotham—could be fraudulent but I didn't hear a denial.
"Come near me, Jim, and I swear to god…."
"Don't tempt me."
"Sylvia, I'll tell you something because you need to know more than anyone, but it needs to stay between us, okay?"
"I'm done talking to you."
He snatched my wrist and pulled me far away from the ledge. I glared at him.
"I didn't kill him." Jim said sternly.
I stared at him, but I wanted to believe him, but Gotham's sewers told truths a lot better than some of the police officers in the GCPD. Jim Gordon wasn't a liar, really. He was a complicated man definitely, but a liar he was not. He was more honest than me—which in all honesty wasn't saying much. How else did I manage to find myself in the company of Fish Mooney and her charming subservient?
"Then why are there people saying that you did?" I questioned coldly, jerking my hand away from him. "People are talking, Jim. Why?"
"Falcone told me to do it," He said hoarsely. "Otherwise, he would come after Barbara, and you. He sold out Fish Mooney, Sylvia—and she was out for blood. And I was given a choice, and I made one. The right one."
He held my shoulders, looking me dead in the eyes.
"You have to believe me."
I pushed him away from me again. But despite my hatred for the moment, I believed him. I could believe that Fish Mooney wanted Oswald dead for his disloyalty. I could believe that Falcone would order Jim to kill any snitch that ratted out an underling. But there was no way I could believe that Jim would kill a man. That's something I could do but not Jim.
"Say you believe me." He whispered.
"I believe you."
He nodded, exhaling a sigh of relief. Then the overprotective part of him took over.
"You and Cobblepot…How did you even meet him—you know what, I don't want to know."
"Wise move, Sherlock," I said slyly.
"Should I be worried for your safety now that Cobblepot is gone?"
"No. He told no one that I knew he was going to the MCU."
"At least he did that much," Jim said, rolling his eyes.
I smiled in spite of myself, tapping him on the shoulder.
"You'd like him if you only allowed yourself to, Jim."
"Not likely. He's a crook."
"So am I." I admitted, shrugging my shoulders.
Jim shook his head like he was pretending not to hear that I admitted to being a criminal. It wouldn't be a shock to him honestly. As children, he was a do-gooder, always stood up for people, always tried to walk the path of our father's righteousness. Personally, I took the road most traveled by in Gotham: crime. Mine were mostly petty—a mugging here, a robbery there; I never was caught but Jim always knew. I was the criminal that he couldn't arrest. Not because I was family but because I left no trace.
"Were you really going to jump?" Jim asked quietly as he took me in a warm embrace.
"No. I just come up here to think."
"Are you joking?"
"No. I really do come up here to think. Less people, more room. The weather's nice."
"I wish you would just go to a library to do your thinking."
"What's the fun in that?" I asked as he escorted me from the roof and back to my apartment.
We stopped outside my apartment door, and he watched me unlock it and walk inside. He walked in and made a quick sweep to make sure there were no creepy crawlies hanging around to Shanghai my backside in any case they wanted to seek revenge on James Gordon for whatever he might have done to upset anyone else. It was like he had a bulls-eye on his back all the time.
"Will you be safe tonight?" Jim asked, closing the blinds of the windows and locking them.
"Do you have protection?"
"Thanks to you, I keep a gun under my pillow and a knife under the bathroom sink," I said comically, smirking when he appeared mortified by the implication. When he saw my smile, he realized I was being humorous, but truthful. I had a gun in the bedroom and one underneath the kitchen table, as well as a knife in the bathroom.
"You have my number on speed dial if you need me."
"Yep—Number 2, like the little shit that you are."
Jim chuckled at my response, hugging me again. As he did, he looked over my shoulder and his body tensed. Following his gaze to a picture frame that sat on my entertainment center, the picture was of Oswald and me.
In the picture, Oswald and I sat in a photo booth, one of those generic cheap knock-offs found in carnivals, and we were smiling together, holding hands—he wore a suit per the usual, but I wore a yellow sundress. That was the first day we spent together away from all the crime and corruption of Gotham's underworld and he had shown me that, at least in him, chivalry was very much alive. And his shy nature had been merely a disguise for the true confidence and ambition that was inside of him.
The way we met had been completely a coincidence. In Fish Mooney's club of all places—one man called him a 'penguin' and while he had become murderous, I noted that the penguin was my favorite animal and he happened to be the most handsome one I'd ever seen. After the fact, he seemed disarmed by my initial attraction to him. One thing led to another, and this picture was the end result of a beautiful first date.
"You might want to hide that," said Jim darkly, referring to the picture. "If anyone sees that you had a connection to him—"
"They might come after me?"
"You know I hate it when you finish my sentences for me," He returned grumpily.
"Well, I'm right, aren't I?"
Disgruntled, he agreed.
"I would think you'd like me to keep that photo."
He cocked his head in confusion.
"If anyone sees this photo, they'll know that Oswald and I were an item. You, my wonderful brother, supposedly killed him so one would assume that I would want nothing to do with you." I told him pointedly. "They'll think I hate you so they won't worry about me helping you pursue Thomas and Martha Wayne's death. Case and point. Does that make sense?"
Jim smirked at me: "Always the clever one, aren't you?"
"Well, you have the muscle—I figure I could have the brains in the family."
"I can't have brains either?"
"You have some of the brains."
"I guess you can keep the picture then."
"I would keep the picture regardless of what you told me to do."
"You have a point." Jim resigned.
He sat down on the couch, looking exhausted but not with our discussion. I closed the door and sat next to him.
"So, who killed the Waynes if not Mario Pepper?"
"You'll find out, I imagine."
"For right now, people will have to assume that we caught the killer. That's the reason this whole thing happened. Two of the most powerful people in the town were gunned down in an alley, no regard for their status."
"You can't agree with framing some knucklehead for the murders?"
"No, but I can see why Mooney and Bullock did this. The Waynes were a symbol of hope for this town."
"Mario Pepper must have done something to warrant his death." I said apathetically.
Jim frowned saying, "That's what Bullock told me. This town is sick."
"Sick like me?"
"Not like you."
"Well, Jim…You're referring to crime as a sickness. You became this cop, this good guy who does what he can do to put shitty people behind bars. At some point, you're going to acknowledge that I am one of the shitty people."
"Have you killed anyone?"
"Have you betrayed your family?"
"Of course not."
"Would you tell me if you did?" Jim asked curiously.
"You know the answer to that."
He sighed, shaking his head: "Gotham has been sick for years, sicker than I thought. Mario Pepper was the fall-guy; I'm the pawn. And you. You'll need to be careful. If you want my opinion—"
"—You know I don't—"
"—You might want to loyal up with Falcone."
"With the man that ordered for my boyfriend to be killed?" I scoffed. "Yeah, that ties it up nicely. All that's missing is a pretty little bow. Great thinking, Jimbo."
"Maroni is a hothead. Falcone at least is old-fashioned; he'll make sure someone like you is treated with respect."
"Because I'm a lady?"
"News flash, Jim? My loyalty is not to Falcone or Maroni, or even Fish Mooney. They have done nothing for me."
Jim frowned, knowing what I was ready to say.
"Don't tell me…." He said slowly.
"My loyalty is to Oswald."
"Damn it, I knew you were going to say that," Jim growled, standing to his feet. "He's a bit of a creep, isn't he?"
"As charming as they come," I returned calmly, standing. "And my loyalty is to you as well. You're my brother, and I love you. Oswald was—is—my boyfriend, and I love him too, and…"
I stopped short, cutting myself off but I'd already said it.
"You love him?"
I smiled weakly.
I had thought of saying it aloud for weeks now, but I had been too afraid to say it. Too many times had my heart been broken, too many times had I felt the urge to say those forbidden words only to be told that we couldn't be together. The words themselves seemed taboo on my end, and only when I'd thought to speak them, it had been too late. But it just slipped out like that!
"How long have you known him?" Jim questioned, approaching me.
"Long enough," I replied coolly.
"Did anyone know you were together?"
"In a sense."
"Does Falcone know?"
"It's possible. A number of people have seen us together."
He glared at me.
"Am I being interrogated right now?" I said defensively, crossing my arms. "You know I don't like being questioned."
"So, you've been interrogated, have you?" Jim retorted curtly.
"Not by your department, but yes. Let's just get off the subject, huh?"
Jim sighed gruffly, turning away from me; he started pacing the kitchen.
"What, you're angry?" I asked, stepping forward. "You don't like the fact that I love him."
He pressed his lips together tightly, clenching his hands into fists.
"You need someone who will protect you," Jim said coldly. "He won't. He can't even protect himself."
"No shit—Falcone had him killed!"
"I said I didn't kill him!"
"That's not the point!" I snarled back. "The only reason I am not dead too is because of Oswald! Not you!"
Jim appeared disarmed: "What?"
"Oh, so now you're interested, huh? Yeah," I said ironically. "While you and your fucking buddy, Harvey Bullock, were being strung up by your ankles in the meat locker, Falcone had a talk with Oswald. I was there. I was hoping to plead for his life, to make Falcone let him go." I frowned with embarrassment: "Falcone's a lot more intimidating in person."
"What did he do?"
"Nothing to me personally," I admitted. "But Falcone...he has this daunting presence, like he could order the world to kneel at his feet and everyone would be so willing to lick his boots. I didn't have much pull. Oswald told him a secret that would allow Falcone to maintain his empire."
"And in return? What did he ask in return?"
I smiled and lovingly answered: "That I would not be touched."
"How sweet." Jim retorted sarcastically, rolling his eyes and curling his lip. "Did he say anything else? What was the secret? What does Cobblepot know that Falcone needs in order to keep his empire?"
"There you go again," I said, gesturing to him. "You're back in that interrogation mode."
"I'm not interrogating you. I'm talking to you."
"No, you're talking at me. And I resent you for it."
Jim sighed deeply, trying to maintain his patience. I was intentionally making it hard for him. After all, I'd nearly jumped to my death thinking that Oswald had died, only to realize that the love of my life had nearly met his demise by the hand of my own family. Admittedly, I was feeling just a little vindictive.
"And what secrets are shared between Oswald and Falcone will remain a mystery to both you and myself," I said carelessly. "When Oswald secured my safety much to Falcone's reluctance, I was ordered to leave…. I did. Unwillingly, of course. His men had to drag me away, kicking and screaming."
Jim was sitting back on the couch, listening to me. He was split between being the comforting brother that he wanted to be and the cop who needed to know everything, the cop that he felt he always had to be. Detective Gordon and my brother Jim were two completely different people, but two sides of the same coin. Just as I was the two-bit criminal who liked robbing gas stations and mugging old men, but I was still the little sister that tried to help in any way I could.
Jim put his stable still hand over mine. I was shaking with anger for reliving the moment in which I was forced to leave, thinking I would never see Oswald again. Sure, I felt fear—how could I have not? But the anger stayed with me, anger for not being able to keep Oswald safe. Call me a mother hen, what-have-you—I felt protective over any of my love interests. Some found it incredibly annoying and emasculating; but Oswald didn't seem to mind. He liked my nurturing spirit.
"I'm sorry for everything that I've put you through," said Jim quietly. "I'm sorry that you've had to experience all of this. But I told Oswald Cobblepot to never come back to Gotham. Odds are you will not see him again."
"I wouldn't stake your bets on that, but tell yourself what you need to, I guess, if it makes you feel any better."
He patted my hands out of comfort, and stood to his feet.
"If you hear anything about Thomas and Martha Wayne's murder from your turf, you'll tell me about it, won't you?" Jim asked softly.
"You know I will." I returned with a promise.
He was about to apologize again but thinking it wasn't best, he smiled wistfully at me and then left my apartment.
My apartment was located on the tenth floor. A balcony connected it from the outside. I strolled out, feeling the breeze, and the light sprinkle of rain that continued to fall. A voice called from the back of my mind once more.
I could do it.
I could…. but instead, I walked back inside. I was tired from the day's events.
In telling me what had happened to him, Jim had restored a reason for living.