Title: 242 Civic Street
Author: DC Luder
Rating: T for language and suggested violence
Summary: Jim Gordon has a rather eventful night in Gotham City.
Infringements: All recognizable characters belong to DC Comics, not DC Luder.
Author's Note: I stubbed my toe yesterday and then promptly wrote this, thus further demonstrating how twisted my brain is.
"Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional."
Two-Face had taken two-hundred guests at the mayor's birthday party hostage with the aid of two dozen flunkies and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Surrounded by police, state troopers and a SWAT team biting at the chance to storm the mansion, the man who had once been my friend had threatened to start killing public figures. Gotham's FBI branch had sent its seasoned crisis negotiator, but despite fifteen years on the job he still had tried reason with a man who chose mercy and murder at the flip of a coin.
For any other city, for any other situation, it would have been more than enough.
For Gotham, we had needed backup.
Through his own ways, of which I had never and would never understand, Batman had responded to the mayor's mansion on his own accord, broke into the house, physically took out twenty-four men armed to the hilt in addition to Two-Face, all without a single scratch befalling the hostages. I had been in the process of fighting with the SWAT commander, a man I had butted heads with for years, when hostages came flooding out the front door, hands up, tears on their faces.
The first line of officers ran up, guns trained on the innocents as a precaution. They barked orders for "Hands on your head" and "Walk towards me slowly."
One of the officers radioed back to me before SWAT moved into the house, "Commissioner, they say the Bat took out Two-Face and his men."
Knowing the threat was over, I answered, "Copy that… let's get these people through medical before taking statements."
I spent the next hour organizing efforts to question victims, arrest suspects and start forensics. Before entering the mansion, I watched on as two massive officers, Bartley and Taylor, escorted a shackled Harvey Dent into a squad car. His good eye found mine and I nodded slightly.
Once upon a time, we had been Gotham's trinity, three noble knights fighting corruption and evil. After particularly troubling events, I always found myself longing for those late nights in my office, the three of us debating the best course of action. I had always argued that we would never be able to hold the people we wanted behind bars, namely Falcone and his flock. Harvey had always referenced what would work best for prosecution, making sure we had a solid case before taking action.
Batman, if he had said anything, would prove why we needed to ignore the rules.
Or rather, that he did.
As I stood at the base of the massive staircase talking to head of forensics, I caught a flash of movement on the next floor up. The only invitation I would get to speak with him before he returned to his work. Excusing myself, I went upstairs, feigning a phone call. The second floor had eight rooms, only one door was closed. Checking my back, I opened the door and passed through it.
It was a billiards room, with glossy hardwood floors, large windows and a massive table draped with a leather cover. A lounge area took up the back of the room where the mayor smoked cigars, drank from icy tumblers and laughed with his band of merry men, occasionally including me. The end tables offered faint illumination from antique lamps.
"I've seen you do some pretty damn near impossible things, but this takes the cake."
I heard a soft boot heel on the floor, forcing me to look to my left. I had been scanning the entire room for him and yet he had been mere feet away.
Without hesitating, I proceeded to update him, but odds were he already knew, "No reported injuries from the hostages, just a little shock and ruffled feathers. Harvey's men are all in the paddy wagon, save for the four on their way to Mercy General. I take it they were the ones to resist?"
"They made a bad decision, grabbing hostages as shields."
Nodding, I replied, "Certainly won't be doing that anytime soon, or at least until they get dexterity back in their hands."
In the years we had worked together, I had seen him in action dozens of times, taking on opponents of all sizes and numbers. He had never backed down from a fight; never doubted his abilities for a second. Although I had always been put off ease by his violent tactics, there was no doubting that he was the best at what he did.
I bet the hostages had witnessed quite a show.
"I'm having Harvey taken directly to Arkham, no sense in putting him into holding… I actually have to get back down there to escort---."
Then I heard it.
Unless he intended for me to hear something, he never made a sound.
The slight exhale said more than any words.
"Batman?" I took a step forward, "Are you all right?"
And then, "I have a lead on the location Harvey was using to gather forces…"
Back to business, then.
"Good, if it pans out, let me know, I'll have Special Crimes look into it… right now they have their hands full with this mess… I take it you want a crack at Harvey before he goes into lock-up?"
He shook his head slowly, "I have other matters to tend to."
Knowing it was pointless to ask, I offered, "Anything I can help with?"
"No," he replied curtly.
For years, I had considered him to one of my best friends, despite the fact that he was a vigilante who had betrayed my trust numerous times in order to carry out his war on crime. When we found ourselves at odds, I had to remind myself that he had the best interest of our city at heart. He had kept me in the dark time and time again, from pieces of evidence to his second protégé's death. I knew he trusted me, with his life and the lives of his allies.
Someday, he might trust himself enough to show it.
I heard my name being called out from the hall, drawing my gaze to the door. "You better go," I started, looking back to Batman.
Naturally, he was gone.
"In here," I called back.
Harvey Bullock opened the door, huffing and puffing after climbing up the stairs, "Goddamn place is too goddamn big… hiding in the dark, Commish?"
"Better cell phone service," I fibbed.
"Yeah right, more bats in more places… Where the hell are the lights?"
He felt the wall for the switch as I asked, "They ready to move out?"
"Waiting on you… ah, here we go…"
Overhead lights came on, revealing finer details of the room including a flat screen TV on the far wall, a glass bowl of salted peanuts on a coffee table beside a nearly full ashtray.
And at least a liter of blood on the dark hardwood floor.
"Jesus… think Bats did that to one of Twofers' men?" Harvey commented as he walked over to the puddle, "Didn't seem like they were banged up like that… more like bleeding on the inside, y'know?"
I was frozen in my tracks, staring down at the blood, more specifically at the boot-shaped space of clean floor in the middle of it. He had been standing right there, talking to me about Two-Face and his men and the hideout. A hideout he couldn't investigate because he had other matters to tend to…
Harvey spoke, "Boot prints over to the window, Commish… Sonofabitch, one got away, I'll call---."
"It wasn't one of them, Harvey."
He looked at me, confusion washing over him before clarity surfaced, "You're not saying it was him? Commish, that's got to be a liter of juice on the floor… How long was he standing there?"
In synch, we walked over to the window, looking down at the terrace on the floor below. The outdoor lighting meant for parties and fundraisers showed a bloody trail on the stone flooring to the railing. Stupid, I opened the window and began climbing down the wrought iron grate beneath newly budding ivy.
"Jim, what are you doin'?"
"Go, get an ambulance back here… he may need it!" I called back, my foot slipping suddenly. After righting myself, I looked up to Harvey, "I said go!"
I managed to make it down to the patio without any further near death experiences. After jumping the last two feet to the stone terrace, I quickly followed the trail as it went over the railing and towards the left. I expected to lose it in the grass but unfortunately there was more than enough to lead me towards the guest house.
The plan must have been to sneak in, tend to his injuries best he could and then flee into the city.
He almost made it.
"Batman," I spoke as loudly as I dared as I ran up to his slumped figure. He had collapsed just out of reach of the side entrance, crashing into the manicured shrubbery. Kneeling beside him, I carefully felt for a pulse through the thick suit, finding something faint and steady at his wrist. As I began to roll him over onto his back, a gloved hand shot up and locked onto my arm. Before he could act any further, I spoke, "It's me…"
The gloved hand released me before it tried to push his body upright. I put mine on his shoulders but he shrugged them away without a word.
Thankfully, the exterior lighting didn't quite reach the guest house, offering fairly good concealment. Unable to see his wound, I asked, "What is it… what happened?"
A ragged, wet breath escaped his lips before a quiet response, "Gunshot… lower back…" he gestured slowly.
I felt his side before slipping a hand beneath a cape. My fingers moved over the body armor that had failed him until it found a warm, wet patch of angry flesh. Instinct had me pressing on the leaking wound and for the second time that night, he let out an uncontrolled breath of air.
For some reason, my thoughts fell out of my lips, "I was wondering how in the world you managed to escape without a scratch…"
Suddenly worried that he had a more grievous injury, I asked, "What?"
He shook his head, the darkness only showing his eyes mobbing, "I've had worse."
My mind flashed back to his defeat by Bane.
I had not responded before his allies had taken him away in a faux ambulance but one of my finest had: Renee Montoya. When I had asked her how he looked, she had fought back tears while delivering a grim consensus of his injuries. At the time, I had convinced myself that my city's hero and my good friend had died.
Yes, had suffered far worse.
"I sent Bullock to get an ambulance---."
Batman interrupted me, "No… ambulance, just need…"
"The Clinic," I finished before taking one hand off of him to retrieve my radio, "Bullock?"
"Commish, all the meds are out, I can get one in fifteen minutes."
"Cancel it… bring my car around to the guest house."
He hesitated before replying, "Copy that, Commish."
While we waited, Batman took a deep breath before asking, "Jim?"
"It's worth it." Although I didn't voice my confusion, he continued, "The pain, the suffering… it's always worth it. Suffer the few... for the many…"
"Family motto?" I asked.
He was silent for a moment, then, "Something like that."
Thinking of family brought up images of his young protégés, who I had always presumed to be his sons. I would have offered to try to contact them but if he wanted them to know, he would have already told them. I knew I wasn't the only one he kept in the dark.
Whatever had led him to put his mask on must have been a hundred times worse than what he endured while wearing it.
As dimmed headlights approached, I told him I would be right back as I was going to help Harvey put the seats down in the SUV to make room.
Batman nodded slightly, although I was concerned it was mainly a result from blood-loss induced weakness.
I leapt to my feet, instinctively wiping the blood from my hands down the front of my pants. They were going to be a bitch to dry clean but I subconsciously needed to get it off. Harvey jumped out of the blue Suburban, "How is he?"
"Bad, we need to get him to the Free Clinic and fast," my voice far more anxious than I had intended it to be. After we folded the seats, I opened the back hatch figuring it would be the easiest way to put him inside the car.
Harvey called out, "Where is he, I'll carry him over."
"He's right there," I answered while grabbing an emergency blanket out of the first aid box.
I stormed out from behind the vehicle, "Damnit, Harvey, open your eyes, he's right---."
Batman was gone. He barely had a pulse, he was bleeding to death and he couldn't even manage to keep his head up. Yet, somehow, he had managed to not only get to his feet but run of in the twenty seconds he had been left alone. Rather than panic at the thought that my friend was gravely injured an on his own, I started to smile.
"Where did he go?" Harvey asked, looking around the darkened yard.
Shaking my head, I walked over and closed the hatch.
Harvey started looking around the guest house, muttering and cursing about how he had run down a flight of stairs for nothing.
Three hours of working at the mansion and a midnight press conference later, I finally made it back to headquarters. Before settling into the office, I put a cup of coffee in the microwave and then downed it with the help of a pair of two day old cheese Danishes. Somewhat refreshed, I sat down at my desk with a heavy sigh, knowing the night was far from over.
Amongst the files, proposals, reports and approvals littering my desk, I spotted a slip of blue paper that hadn't been there earlier. It had small, surgeon-precision handwriting on it, penmanship I had come to know very well.
Jim: 242 Civic Street – Harvey's hideout, solid forensics, blueprints of mansion. -B
I was suddenly very happy to know I wasn't the only one who was facing an all-nighter.