Disclaimer: Batman belongs to DC Comics.

A/N: This drabble was written for the "Punchline" theme at batfic-contest(dot)livejournal(dot)com.

Cross the Line

A throw of the fist… a twist of the arm… a flick of the wrist…

That's all it would take.

That's all it would take to rid the world of his evil, once and for all. To stop his cursed heart from beating, to keep that ghoulish, spiteful grin from ever forming on his face again.

Such small movements…

Every time I confront him, I can see myself doing it. I know a dozen lethal moves by heart… how to puncture lungs, crush skulls, tear out throats… I could perform any one of them without a second thought… yet I have never used them.

But each time I meet him, I come a hair closer to crossing the line. With every time we fight, I find myself attacking him just a little bit harder, that extra force behind my throws, my hands slowing inching toward annihilation. The accumulation of years of atrocities and the outrage they produce.

And every time that image floods my mind, and I can see his blood on my hands, can taste it splattering across my lips, and can feel the momentary sense of relief this action brings, another image comes along to drown it out, like pure, cooling water washing away the red heat from my eyes.

I see Jim Gordon, standing tall day after day, unbent by the weight of the horrors this man has unleashed against him, worse than any other man has faced. And despite the blood that's been shed, the blood of people he loves, Jim has never allowed it to stain him, has never let his pain turn him into a monster like the man he hates.

I see Jim Gordon, in my mind, holding me back. And each time he comes to save me, I utter a silent thank you.

Because I know what this man wants from me.

He deals out death like it's a joke, but he has a special punchline reserved for me—and me alone.

He doesn't want my death.

He wants my soul.

And I can't let him have the last laugh.