Summary: In the aftermath of the events of the Dark Knight, Anna Ramirez finds herself caught between a rock and a hard place.
Notes: Currently a oneshot, but I have some plans to make it into a chaptered fic if I can find the time and inspiration. Leave me some reviews to tell me what you think!
There's something telling in eyes. I tend to avoid direct eye contact; stare just a smidge below or above and I could avoid baring all my doubts and fears and betrayals to the casual observer. But lately, I've been looking everyone in the eye.
Most everyone met my gaze and carried on their business. The MCU was in a state of half-repair and with the office in more disarray than usual, it was hard to be completely focused. Trying to find a cell to hold the Joker for good had consumed much of our time and resources. Commissioner Gordon was often down at MCU, getting his hands dirty because he claimed to be going stir-crazy in town hall.
I knew he knew. He knew I knew. We had a mutual understanding of suffocating silence, and however much I tried to meet his eyes, he eluded me.
I took most of my free time on the roof, staring at the broken spotlight. It probably would have been a normal reaction had the Batman attacked me, so no one up to their knees in paperwork in the offices below took note of my absences from the break room. Sometimes Gordon was there before me, and I slipped downstairs quietly, and sometimes I was there before him and I pretended not to notice while he fumbled his way back down the stairs.
I think both of us were content to tread carefully around each other, but the media had other ideas. The media always has other ideas.
The Batman scandal was a journalist's dream, and Gordon and I were both being swept up in their ecstasy. Everyone and their mother wanted an interview with the survivors of the Batman's bloodbath. Now, I wasn't an idiot. There was obviously something deeper brewing in the shadows, and Gordon had always been closer to the Batman than the rest of us. I wasn't about to ruin whatever they had going by giving a conflicting interview, and so I was left only with the option of messy confrontation.
I stepped lightly when I found him on the roof one night. "People are going to start talking about you if you're always on the MCU roof staring at a broken spotlight, Commissioner," I said quietly, handing him a mug like it was old times. He took the coffee but didn't drink it, instead looking me in the eye for the first time since…well, the incident.
I felt an almost compulsive need to explain myself, give the excuse that now sounded brittle and shallow even to my own ears. "It was my mother's hospital bills," I blurted, then cut myself short. The look in Gordon's eyes showed that he wouldn't take the excuse any better than Dent did. The silence stretched between us awkwardly. Gordon had that floundering look on his face that meant he had something to say, but no way to start the conversation.
In the very least I could do that for him.
"What's going on?" I asked with a heavy sigh. "Harvey Dent attacked me and made me call your family, not the Batman. I haven't said anything because my neck is on the chopping block too, but I want to know what's happening. Why are you protecting Dent?"
I almost stepped away when Gordon took a sudden step closer to me, only to realize he was speaking in a low voice. "It was Batman's idea. If what Dent did came to light… Everything we've worked for, all the good we've done cleaning up Gotham, would go to waste." Gordon let out a deep sigh and raked his fingers through his hair. "Batman is being whatever Gotham needs him to be, and right now it needs him to be the scapegoat."
I had suspected as much, but just hearing that conviction… the dedication… Wrapping my arms around my middle to keep from shivering, I mirrored his sigh. "Okay… I need to get my story straight with yours before the press flogs me for not giving an interview. I read the official report. I escaped the bloodthirsty Batman by running?"
Gordon's mustache twitched in what might have been a smile. "And you're refusing any guards."
"At least I'll make for an interesting article." I fiddled with the hem of my jacket and then motioned vaguely to the door. "Um, I'll just—"
The Commissioner's voice bit into me hard, freezing me mid-step. "We're not done here, Detective. I'm afraid I'm going to ask you for more than your silence." Dread stirred around in my stomach; he could not ask this of me. Not me. At least he wasn't broaching the subject gently.
"I can only do so much from my office in town hall. Batman needs someone in the MCU."
"Someone he can trust?" I muttered spitefully. Gordon wasn't meeting my eyes anymore.
"I'm not asking you because I trust you." The gravelly voice came from the shadows, and he emerged as deathly silent as always.
He never failed to make my heart beat faster, slinking around like that. I had never gotten used to it, but this time was different. Never before had he actually seen me. If our eyes had ever met, he had only regarded me as another detective. Now, a dark tint marked his eyes when he looked at me – really looked at me. He knew me too… And he was clearly restraining himself, trying to hold back that glint of hatred.
"I'm using you because you don't have a choice in the matter."
I couldn't stop the instinctive gulp I took. I thought of my mother wilting away in the hospital and I thought of the head who had taken over for Maroni. And I looked at the dark man in front of me, his eyes never leaving mine, and I knew I was going to die, one way or another.
"You will cut all ties with the mob," the masked man continued, his hard voice cutting through my thoughts. "I will foot the bill at the hospital and you will not follow the money trail. In turn, you will keep me informed. Gordon can show you the proper channels by which to contact me when you must. I will be in touch."
I turned, open-mouthed, to Gordon for only a split second, and when I looked back, the caped crusader was gone. "I can't do this," I hissed to Gordon. "They don't just let you go."
"You don't have a choice, Detective," Gordon muttered, palming her a small cell phone. "Use that to call me or… well, you don't call him, but there is a number in there that will get the information to him eventually. He'll need to tell you more than you'll need to tell him."
We stood in the relative darkness of the tiny floodlight above the door, him peering deep in my eyes and me grasping for some way to tell him that he was asking the wrong person.
"I know you're a good person, Anna," he said softly. "You'll do what's right this time."
I swallowed an abrupt sob before it made any noise, and it was a good thing it was dark so he wouldn't see the tears welling up in my eyes or the stake going through my heart. "Good night, Commissioner," I answered evenly, turning to the door. My shoes tapped out my own funeral march as I descended the stairwell, and I followed the railing with my eyes tightly closed.