Title: Holding on To You
Part 3: And I Still See
And I still see your reflection
Inside of my eyes
That are still looking for purpose,
They're still looking for life...
- Lifehouse, "Broken"
The night, like most nights in Gotham, was dark and cold. He leaned against the railings off the roof of yet another nondescript warehouse, and watched Gordon approach, feeling apprehensive. Yeah, he had decided to open up to the man, but how the hell was he supposed to do that wearing the cape and cowl and with a growl disguising his voice? It had been a lot easier back at the party, on that terrace, when he'd just been himself.
He suddenly felt a burning desire to just tell Gordon who he was, and be done with this exhausting charade, but he quashed it at once. That was not an option. He had been less than circumspect in the past about revealing his identity, but that had been when the Batman had still been considered the savior of Gotham city. Now, with how hated he was, that knowledge would only endanger Gordon. He sighed a little, unable to suppress a stab of loneliness.
"What have you got for me?" Gordon asked as he finally reached him, all business, clearly taking his cue from the Batman's behavior these past few weeks.
The words he had intended to say died at the tone, and he growled, "There's going to be a drug deal. In the Narrows, in the alley behind Charles Street, at eight o'clock tomorrow, outside the Berkos Chinese restaurant."
It had taken four nights of silently shadowing the area's latest drug-lord to get the specifics on that one. At least this time, the Batman wouldn't need to come into it- Gordon could just say he'd gotten a tip from an undercover source.
"Thanks, I'll take care of it," Gordon said. "Will you be there?"
"Of course," he returned, "But I'll stay concealed unless things go badly south."
Gordon hesitated a moment, clearly wondering why he hadn't taken off yet. "Well…I hope I don't see you, then…" He laughed weakly, and turned to go, but Bruce caught the disappointment and sorrow in his eyes.
"Gordon, wait," he said. The man turned to regard him in surprise, and he took a deep breath, steeling himself. "I know…these last few weeks I've acted distant and…and cold…but I want you to know it isn't you. I…"
Damn, why was it so hard to get the words out?
"You don't owe me any explanations," Gordon said softly. But the guarded hope in his eyes let Bruce know he'd very much like some anyway.
"Yes, I do," Bruce said, and then paused again. He couldn't say this using the growl. "I…I lost someone very close to me, recently." Gordon's head snapped up, a staggered look on his face at the words and the fact that he'd spoken them in his own voice. They both knew he could easily figure out the Batman's identity with that information, with only a little digging. Well, Bruce was trusting him not to try.
"And then right after that, you asked me to break my one rule," he continued softly. "And I…" He swallowed hard. "He was the last person I had left, Gordon, and he would have been so disappointed that I-" He broke off as a fresh wave of grief stole his breath.
Gordon looked stricken, horrified. "God," he breathed, "I'm so sorry. If I had known-"
"You would have waited awhile before asking me to do it," Bruce interrupted, "But you would still have asked me, eventually. You would have had to." Gordon flinched and averted his eyes, unable to deny the words. "I don't blame you," Bruce continued steadily, and Gordon turned to stare at him, stunned. "It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do but …it had to be done. I know that. If you'd waited before you asked me to do it, the only difference would have been more women dead at the hands of that bastard. So…I don't blame you."
Silence descended again.
"Are you alright?" Gordon asked quietly.
Déjà vu. His breath caught. The ache that had found a home in his chest since Alfred's death suddenly became a scream, and a wave of gut-wrenching loneliness threatened to swallow him. "He was the last person left who knew who I was," he managed to choke out. "There's no one else. I…" Eyes burning, unable to believe he was breaking down yet again, he turned away.
"You can tell me," Gordon said softly. "Who you are. You can tell me."
God, how he wanted to.
"No," he said, switching back to the growl, hoping it would give him the clarity he needed to pull himself together. "I can't take that risk."
"Maybe that's my choice," the other man returned.
"No," he growled. "I can't have that on my head, Gordon. Please don't ask me again."
Silence fell again, there was nothing left to say…but he couldn't bring himself to leave.
And then a hand descended on his shoulder, just as it had done the other night, and although he couldn't feel it's warmth through the Kevlar, he could still feel its solid, reassuring weight.
"Just because I don't know what you look like, doesn't mean I don't know who you are." Gordon said softly, and Bruce's heart contracted. "We are still two. Don't ever forget that."
For a long moment, Bruce couldn't speak. Then, brokenly, he whispered, "Thank you."
So I'm holding on,
I'm holding on,
I'm holding on,
I'm barely holding onto you...
- Lifehouse, "Broken"
I promise, in the next (and final) installment Gordon WILL find out who he is. Sorry for all the cliff-hangers.
A couple of things- first, some of you seem to think this is a Batman-turns-dark-and-will-have-to-be-killed-story. He's not Harvey Dent, guys. I stand by his killing Trevor Lamburn, under the circumstances. And it's not like he's never killed before. Remember Ra's Al Ghul? He said he was just "letting him die" but that was just semantics. He will kill if he has to, for Gotham. Same goes for Gordon. They both cross lines when it comes to Gotham. Gordon worked with Batman before he even knew he was totally trustworthy, and he let him take the blame for Dents murders even though he knew that could result in him being killed by the cops who would hunt him. So I don't think its that much of a stretch him asking Bruce to kill.
Also, I hope I gave an explanation for Batman acting more and more like Bruce around Gordon. I urge you all to please review- I'm a bit disappointed with my review count for this installment, to be honest. Well, not with the count, just with the fact that I seem to have lost some of my old reviewers. And considering that this installment was written specifically for their sakes, I would have wanted to know what they thought. Of course, some of you are still around- and I thank you guys- but some of you aren't. If you're lurking, please do review.
And stay tuned for the next installment!