Title: And Many More
Author: DC Luder
Summary: The GCPD throws their favorite commissioner a birthday party and Jim Gordon surprisingly enjoys himself.
Author's note: Bludhaven's January 5th is Jim Gordon's Birthday challenge. Having written and featured Jim in my Series of Three for many years, I can't pass up an additional opportunity to honor the king of commissioning!
A/N 2: Jim's card at the end is one that a friend gave me last summer… it features a hot picture of Michael Scott, as well!!
"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years."
The mayor had given me an immaculate 1926 Colt Police Positive pistol.
Barbara had come over the night before and made a dish of mince and tatties after going grocery shopping for my neglected kitchen.
Harvey Bullock had gone the gag gift route with Bell & Howell's Sonic Earz hearing device.
Given that it was my fifty-fifth birthday, the police department had seen fit to rent out the ballroom at the Cascade Hotel, fill it with lines of buffets and bars and invite half of the city. I had originally intended on spending my birthday at home with a fifteen year old bottle of Glen Fiddich and my favorite recliner. Needless to say, I was agreed to be a social birthday boy rather than a snoring and slightly inebriated one.
On one condition.
I had a lottery drawn up, one ticket for every member of the Gotham City police force in addition to the supportive employees, right down to the stable hands for the mounted patrol and building maintenance crews. With the last paycheck before the party, two hundred randomly selected individuals would be given an invitation for themselves and a guest to the event. If that individual chose to give, or most likely sell, their invitation to a fellow cop, that was beyond my control.
On their salaries, I couldn't blame them.
I arrived at ten of six, as instructed by the party organizer Tabitha. She had been fluttering in and out of my office the week before, asking questions about my color, food and seating arrangement preferences. Someone had apparently told her that it was my birthday but had failed to mention that I was the head of one of the most active and frustrating law enforcement agencies on the eastern seaboard. The final straw had been when Tabitha had pushed aside the paperwork on my desk in order to lay out pictures of ridiculous cakes for me to choose from.
Amid the curses, I had made it painfully clear to the young woman that if she set foot in my office once more, she'd be spending the night of the party in the drunk tank.
Apparently all was forgotten on the special evening, as she greeted me with a too white smile before telling me everything was running smoothly. As I surveyed the ballroom, I finally realized how great her effort had been in arranging the event and summoned the manhood to thank her.
"Pleasure was all mine, Commissioner."
Tabitha then breezed over the order of events for the evening, of which were limited to eating, drinking, dancing and a few words from Gotham's famous talking heads at a small podium set up beside the head table. I was quick to ask if we could write up a restricted list for the microphone, fearing a roast in the making.
When she handed over the printed packet of at least eight pages, I could have kissed her.
It wasn't long before the guests began arriving and I stood and greeted them at the main entrance rather than taking my seat at the table. Many commented on the encroaching snow that was starting to blanket the city in white. I had joked that at least it would keep the criminals under wraps, at least for one night.
After chatting with a few dozen people, I spotted a flash of red hair and sighed with relief.
Barbara had chosen to attend the event with her on-and-off again beau, Dick Grayson. For the life of me, I was unable to understand why they were unable to figure things out. It was blatantly obviously how in love they were, especially in the way they bickered.
"Happy birthday, Daddy!" she cried out as they approached.
I leaned over, hugging her before kissing her cheek, "It certainly is now, sweetheart."
After standing upright, I glanced over to Dick and his proffered hand. Grasping it, I nodded, "Glad you could make it… Drive must have been terrible coming from Bludhaven."
He reached up to wipe away at the melted snowflakes that speckled his dark hair, "Not too bad actually, only skipped a heartbeat a dozen times or so. Amazing how many people forget it's four-wheel drive, not four-wheel stop."
Chuckling, I agreed, "I'd much rather walk when it snows, marginally safer."
"Can I get you something to drink, Dad?" Barbara asked. When I told her to surprise me, she grinned, "Don't tempt me."
She then looked to her blue-eyed beau. Dick responded, "Oh, I'm on antibiotics still… so a Coke, I guess."
After she left, I asked, "For what?"
"Antibiotics, you said."
"Oh, it's nothing… I guess one too many cops don't wash their hands in Bludhaven…" he shot a look to me, "Sorry, too much information…"
"Not at all, I about lost my left leg to Athlete's foot I picked up in the locker room years ago…"
A trio of detectives entered through the decorated archway and I took a moment to greet them before pointing out the nearest bar. Returning my attention to Dick, I asked, "Bruce coming tonight? I could use some social back-up."
The young man shrugged, "He said he wanted to drop in at some point, I know he had a few things to take care of first… something about an art exhibit he was supposed to open and dinner with the head of his marketing department."
"Never too busy for a party, though," he smirked before touching my shoulder, "Especially yours."
Barbara returned before I could ask anything else of him, "All right, old timey coke bottle for the sick-o, old timey Stewart's cream soda for me and for you, Dad…"
I took the glass from her, I sipped carefully before announcing, "That would be a Highland Scotch Whisky."
"I'll do your dishes for a week if you can tell me how old it is," she offered jokingly.
"Thirty years to the day."
Her jaw dropped, as did Dick's.
I should have told them that I had already perused the bars, making a mental note of the three types of scotch in stock. The remaining two had been a nice bottle of Glenlivet and the lesser Dewar's White Label. Before the could demand an explanation, the crowds truly began pouring in and I was forced to excuse myself in order to shake hands, kiss cheeks and generally make nice. Whether it was the drink or seeing so many friendly and familiar faces, I was on the verge of actually enjoying myself.
If I had been able to wear an old, worn suit instead of the unforgiving tuxedo, I would have been gleeful.
The buffet seemed to hit every corner of the globe with pasta, seafood, prime rib and stir fry. I spotted spicy Italian sausages, barbeque chicken and every side imaginable. Despite the elegant establishment, they had gone well out of their way to make a few hundred cops feel right at home.
Since it was my special day, I was situated at a the head table next to the dreaded podium. Joining me, was the mayor and his wife, the deputy mayor and her husband, the district attorney and his fiancée in addition to Barbara and Dick. After loading up my plate as high as gravity would allow, I made my way to my seat. My daughter and her plus-one had already been seated, both opting for far more health conscious entrees and portions.
Tempted to tuck my napkin into my shirt as a means of defense against au jus, I opted for sophistication and arranged it on my lap. I asked Barbara if she had ran into David Beruck, a detective second class at present but had once been a young officer that Barbara had flirted with incessantly a lifetime ago. When she didn't respond, I leaned forward and started to repeat myself, until I realized she was on the phone.
That girl and her gadgets.
Before the cake was embarrassingly lit with fifty-five candles, the ballroom was subjected to a number of short, slightly slurred speeches. Each wished me another fifty-five years, but the DA had hoped for "at least twenty with a decent head of hair". Finally, I was dragged from my seat and forced behind the microphone. Always one to think on my feet, I did my best to show my sincere thanks for everyone's presence, at the event and in my life. I closed with a demand for everyone to eat and drink their fill because the tab certainly wasn't mine.
I scanned the crowd as I returned to my seat, catching a flash of the one face I had been looking for all night long.
Unfortunately, his eyes were directed elsewhere.
The young woman I had threatened a night in the drunk tank with had selected a delicious, rich vanilla cake, laced with raspberry preserves and a frosting that melted in my mouth. I treated myself to two pieces before making my way back into the throng for one last drink. None too surprising, Harvey Bullock was at the bar trying to wipe something out of his tie with club soda.
"What are you drinking, Bullock?"
After looking up, he grinned, clapped my shoulder a few time, "Happy Birthday, commish… tender, we'll have two o'yer finest bourbon whiskeys, neat and back."
Good thing I took a cab.
As we waited for our drinks, Bullock retrieved a small present from his inside coat pocket, "Picked you out something, Jim… I offered Montoya to go in halves but she said she'd buy you breakfast sometime instead."
Renee Montoya, his much classier half.
I was suddenly fearful of tearing open the blue paper.
After pulling it apart, I revealed a plastic display encasing a pair of ear buds and a small silver electronic device.
"It's not an old-person gift, I swear, I bought me a pair off the TV a few months back, work ten times better'n the surveillance equipment we have," he tapped a stubby finger on the case, "Sixty feet away and it sounds like they're talking in your lap."
"Thank you, Harvey…" I began as the glasses were placed in front of us, "Very thoughtful of you."
After a customary clinking, we down the drinks and set the glasses back down in unison. As we chatted about the night as well as a kidnapping case the force had been battling for the last two months, I spotted Bruce again, standing just inside the nearest arch leading to the exterior hall surrounding the ball room. Sure enough, his ward stood beside him, brow furrowed with concern.
Distracted, I had failed to notice that Montoya had joined us and was put off guard at her soft embrace and peck on my cheek.
"Harvey, I told you not to get him that…" she sighed.
I shook my head and came to his defense, "Actually, it's great, I think I'm going to try it out tonight, see what these guests really have to say about me."
After donning the ear buds, I was impressed with how well it amplified the sound, although the crowd of the massive room only lead to loud chatter and laughter. Taking my leave to the corridor, I found concealment behind a statue of a noble looking Colonial, nearly sixty feet away from my duo of interest.
"You smell like a tavern…" Dick commented.
Bruce spoke lowly, "Spilled a glass of gin on my jacket… needed a cover if I stagger."
"Why the hell didn't you go to Leslie?"
"From the Village, this was geographically en route."
"You are unbelievable… so what happened?"
"Lead on the kidnapping ring panned out… All of the woman used the same parking garage.. All of the attendants had alibis for the nights they disappeared… but it turned out that there was another employee they didn't divulge, had an extensive criminal record, aggravated assault, armed robbery… didn't want to alarm their clients. He had access to all of their vehicles, must have hid in the back seat, taken them by surprise… wouldn't have been out of the ordinary to see him parking the cars afterwards…"
"Nut nothing on the surveillance tapes?"
Bruce grunted and then continued, "It was a cheap place… had cameras but only the one on the main entrance was actually recording."
"Remind me to use municipal parking… So I take it he won't be showing up to work on Monday?"
"Neither will I… I underestimated the residence, didn't expect there to be trip wires, let alone ones connected to an explosive… hand grenade in a glass container filled with plastic of Paris… that prime rib looks to be in better shape than my leg…"
"Go… I'll cover for you---."
Bruce cut him off, "No, it can wait."
Dick paused before asking, "Any other casualties, aside from you?"
"Thankfully no. He had been in the process of getting the girls together in one of the bedrooms. Once I tripped the booby trap, he came out, they made it to a fire escape and down to the street. Gave us some quality alone time…"
Light-hearted as ever, Dick chided, "That'll make anyone repent…"
I felt a tap on my shoulder and when I turned around, I recognized the clean shaven face of the head of Missing Persons, Arnold Benton. Without being prompted, he spoke softly, "Figured I would give you the head's up… looks like Batman left your birthday gift in Gotham Village… that kidnapper was found bound and upside down, hanging from a beam in his apartment… all six girls were accounted for, they're being taken to Mercy for overnight observation… I'm heading out now to check things out."
"Thank you, Benton. I'll see if I can sneak out myself."
He nodded and replied, "Good luck with that… heh… too bad Bats couldn't come."
"Yes… too bad…"
Returning my focus to the conversation down the hall, I tuned in just as Bruce ask, "Where is he?"
"Was at the head table, last I knew. Barbara sent me on a quest for another cream soda but they ran out… don't know how I'm going to break the news to her."
"With an elbow block on the ready."
"You made a joke… you must be bleeding to death."
I had to bite my lips to keep my snicker contained.
Leaving them to their privacy, I returned to my duties as the guest of honor. As I chatted with various clusters of attendees, I heard from several male officers that Bruce Wayne was on the prowl, having already taken three separate trips into the women's room with three different ladies. A violent crimes detective had sighed, "Makes Dear Penthouse seem like Family Circus… Can you imagine… that kind of a life…"
"No," I had remarked, "No, I can't."
"How'd he get invited anyway?" another asked.
Before I could answer, the VC detective decided to, "Guy donates a fortune to the police department, snubbing him means our electricity and water gets shut off."
He forgot about internet, phone, heat and office supplies.
Somehow, it was nearly eleven by the time I returned to the head table. The partygoers were starting to clear out, most headed to relieve babysitters while the remainder were off to any number of Gotham's fine dive bars and restaurants. Just as I took my seat again, Barbara and Dick approached. I was about to ask if they wanted to go back to the house for coffee, but my daughter announced, "Well, Dad, we better get going, Dick's got a hour long drive home at best and I have new down pillows calling out my name."
I rose once more, and shook Dick's hand before leaning in to kiss her cheek once more, "I think I'm partied out myself. Breakfast tomorrow?"
She smirked, "Come over to my place, I don't want to have to haul my Belgian waffle maker over to yours."
"Will do… take care, Dick."
"You too… Good night."
After so many years, I was used to the lies. After all, they were clever, always on the money and never gave a reason for anyone to doubt them. Barbara was on her way home, ready to take on the chaos of information at her fingertips. Given that his mentor was on the mend, Dick would be donning the black and blue he had been wearing long before he was one of Bludhaven's finest.
I hadn't said a word to him all night.
Suddenly, I searched the dwindling crowd, looking for his bright smile, icy blue eyes or even to catch the sound of his fake laugh but to no avail. We had known each other, in both lives, for nearly fifteen years and he was one of the few I deemed to be a friend.
Taking two more slices of cake, I made my way to the coat check before heading out the hail a cab. Rather then returning to an empty, dark house, I decided that it was my birthday and I would do as I damn well pleased. Once in the back seat, I said, "Tri-corner, police headquarters."
"Never heard that one before…" the cabbie chuckled.
I smirked in his rearview mirror, "Figured I'd get a jump start, will only end up there anyway."
"Glass half full," he commented, "My kinda guy."
After ten minutes of light chat, he pulled up to the drop off area in front of the towering building. I asked for his name and cab information and although he offered it , he had inquired as to why.
"It's my birthday, I'm in a generous mood… consider all your traffic violations gone."
When I tried to pay my fare, he shook his head, "Your birthday, you should get the gift…"
If only everyone in the city believed in you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours…
On the way to my office, I retrieved two forks from the small commissary and two cups of fresh, hot coffee: one black, one with two sugars. By the time I set the mugs on my desk, they had cooled to near perfection. After pulling the two plastic containers of cake out of the white paper bag, I stabbed each with a fork and proceeded to call Benton for an update.
The kidnapper, Elder Ramierez, had willingly signed a confession in front of his lawyer and the assistant DA. On his way back to holding, he had begged to be able to stay in a jail cell and when asked why, he had stammered, "He said it was the only place I would be safe…"
He would say something like that.
After setting the phone back in it's cradle, I heard something I never expected him to say, "Happy Birthday, Jim."
Rather than hiding in the far corner that seemed ever absent of light, Batman had stepped forward, the shadow of a smirk on his lips. I pushed a slice of cake forward, "It's good… had two pieces already…"
When he remained motionless, I offered, "Then again you probably don't look the way you do by eating cake…"
He hesitated and then responded, "Special occasions… allow for minor discretions."
I chuckled as he reached out and took the container, quickly concealing it under the heavy black cape hanging from his shoulders. I had to admit, he had done a fine job of removing the aroma of his cologne but the soft wave of the material had wafted the faintest scent of gin and antiseptic towards me.
…that prime rib looks to be in better shape than my leg…
"I have to thank you for the Village… couldn't ask for a better birthday gift."
"Mere coincidence… should have found him sooner… he's been at it since Thanksgiving."
"You found him, that's all that matters," I looked up at him.
Although I had seen him in plain light many times, I always found myself gazing more intently than necessary, which was most likely why he kept to the shadows. Beyond his impressive physical presence, the accented mask and dark uniform transformed his active form into the thing of nightmares. When he was motionless, it was possible to see the man behind the mask if only for a second.
He was in pain, his breathing far too controlled to be natural.
He was exhausted, battling the odds for weeks, months, years.
He was a man with a lame sense of humor, no match for that of his ward.
After sipping down half of my coffee, I mused that he likely knew about my impromptu stalking at the party, evident only by the fact that he knew everything. Similarly, he had to be aware of the fact that I knew his secret and had since nearly the beginning of our partnership. I wondered if he knew that I would die before uttering his name aloud.
I smirked before draining the mug, of course he did.
"Well, I don't know about you, but there's not enough cake and coffee to keep this old man up all night."
His voice softened, barely noticeable, "You're not old, Jim."
"Fifty-five… certainly is adjacent to being old."
His thirty-fifth birthday was in February. I had already RSVP'd to the gala event that would put mine to shame.
If his father hadn't been gunned down in a dark, cold alley, he would have been in his mid-fifties, no longer in emergency surgery but most likely the chief of staff or teaching at Hudson University.
The dark, morbid corner of my mind wondered if he would live to see his fifty-fifth birthday.
I looked up at him again before getting to my feet and approaching the north window, gazing out at a wintry wonderland, "Well, shouldn't be too bad tonight… especially since that snow is going to let up until dawn…"
Nine times out of ten, whenever I turned to face him he was gone, more often than not leaving behind evidence or documents on my desk.
Even though it was my birthday, he still had a job to do.
Alone, I returned to my desk, smiling at the neat stack of papers centered over the chaos. Photocopies of the employee records that had not been turned over in the initial investigation of the parking garage, photographs of the suspect's house, before and after the booby trap fired as well as a blue envelope….
And a birthday card.
I read to myself, my smile growing with every word: You don't want to wish someone a happy birthday because that phrase, my friend, only recognizes the DAY part of a birthday. It doesn't recognize the dark, predawn hours of the evening. The NIGHT parts of the day, as it were. These parts add up to a WHOLE day, not just the DAY part. And they need to be recognized!
Inside the card, beneath the typed conclusion of So have a Happy BirthWHOLEday! All 24 hours, not just the day part, he had signed: And many more, B
Maybe his sense of humor was in line with Dick's after all.