Title: Long Enough
Rating: FRM/R
Warnings: Not a happy fic
Disclaimer: Sometimes I'm certain I own them. But then I take my pills like the nice doctors tell me to and it all goes away again.
Notes: Set a good few years in the future.

xXx

In the end it comes down to this: a gun, an expensive dinner, and blood dripping gently onto the floor.

Back set firmly against the wall, Jim Gordon laughed low and shaky in the back of his throat. A fundraiser it had been. Of all things, a simple fundraiser for some charitable cause he couldn't quite recall at that moment. But of course nothing was ever simple in Gotham. Of course it was a target for whichever lunatic had decided to make a statement.

A hostage situation. It was almost embarrassing.

And a complete stalemate. The police - Gordon felt a hint of smug pride - had the hotel completely surrounded, their attackers pinned down. But they couldn't move in inch without risking getting Gotham's elite shredded by machine-gun fire. Most of the hostages were clinging to the hope that Batman would swoop in and save them. Gordon, however, was denied that comforting delusion, due to the fact that the Batman - unmasked, armourless and vulnerable - was leaning against him, bleeding discreetly onto the marble flooring. If only they knew, he thought wryly. He would have rather liked to believe, like everyone else, that Bruce Wayne was a useless pretty-boy and Batman was coming to save the day.

"I could take these cretins," Bruce muttered under his breath.
"Not now you've popped your stitches you couldn't," Gordon said pointedly, trying to speak without moving his lips. The timing was unfortunate. Only three days ago, a crowd of frightened bystanders and a damned camera crew had witnessed Batman get rather impressively sliced up in the process of the Joker's fifth arrest in as many months. Perhaps Gotham was not home to the most intelligent people in the world, but someone was bound to get suspicious if Bruce Wayne was discovered to be bearing identical injuries.

And it also meant that he was in no fit state to deal with this latest group of nutjobs. Gordon sighed and relaxed against the wall. This one was firmly in the hands of the SWAT team, and while as the Commissioner he was required to have every faith in them, he wasn't expecting anything to happen quickly.

As Commissioner he was also required to attend these godawful public events, of course. And spend twelve hours of every day doing paperwork, and be tactful and diplomatic to privileged idiots who hadn't the vaguest conception of what it meant to be hungry or desperate, and sucking up to politicians he had even less respect for. He wouldn't have traded his life for anyone else's, but sometimes he didn't much like the person it was turning him into.

A searchlight swept brief and dazzling through the windows. Their captors clutched guns and shouted threats, growing more nervous by the minute.

Amateurs, really. They hadn't even thought to search their prisoners. Gordon was rather grateful, since it meant they were blissfully ignorant of both the bandages swathing Bruce's chest and arms, and the gun concealed beneath Gordon's jacket. They didn't know how to control a crowd either - the guests were panicky, frightened, ready to break. The tension in the air was thick enough to taste.

He didn't like that he'd become one of the public figures who needed rescued rather than one of those doing the rescuing. It was true what they said: you become what you hate. Or as Harvey Dent had so much more eloquently put it, you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.

It was a slippery slope. Once or twice he'd already caught himself ignoring the problems in his department because he had bigger fights to chase, turning a blind eye to things he couldn't change. How much longer before he didn't notice any more? How much longer before he saw himself become the villain - the corrupt, lazy cop he swore he'd never be?

Shapes were flitting through the shadows outside. Gordon felt a chill run up his spine. Their captors hadn't noticed, but when they did...all hell would break loose. There were too many civilians in the way, too much collateral damage.

All it would take for the situation to explode was one wrong move. The nominal leader of the group was getting agitated, waving his gun around and snapping pointless orders at his men. The crowd were spooked cattle ready to stampede.

They had moments.

The situation was completely untenable. And SWAT were ready, they were in position: all they needed was an opening. Just a moment's distraction...

He knew what had to be done. He'd joined up to save lives, to make Gotham a better place, and in that moment the way to do so was clear to him. His fingers curled around his gun, muscles tensing to move.
"What the hell are you doing?" Bruce hissed. Gordon smiled.

Dying a hero