Title: Criminal Acts
Characters: Batman, Jim Gordon, Detective Stephens, Renee Montoya
Summary: Even after twenty years in the Gotham City police department and there were some cases that never got easier. It began with an overdose…
Detective Gerard Stephens studied the scene with the calm detachment that came with twenty-five years in the Gotham City PD and many nights spent at crime scenes just like this one. He noted the bare walls, the room empty save for a small nightstand, well-worn and dusty, and the once white, now dark grey, mattress set directly on the floor. A flash went off, obscuring his vision for a moment as the crime scene photographer got a better angle of the woman lying dead on the dingy bed. Her washed-out blonde hair was matted and tangled on the pillow, her skin was pasty grey, her t-shirt and gym shorts remained slightly damp with sweat despite the winter chill in the poorly heated room. By her side, a small bag lay open, containing what Stephens knew to be meth. No signs of struggle or trauma, just the dead girl and the small bag of drugs that made what had happened readily apparent. There were still tests to do and hoops to jump through to bureaucratically confirm what would be obvious to even a casual observer, and Stephens watched the photographer work, making sure everything was done properly.
When he heard footsteps behind him, Stephens turned his head slightly and spoke quietly to Renee Montoya as she paused in the doorway just behind his left shoulder. "Was the father able to talk?" he asked quietly.
"To an extent. He's the one that found her. Said he didn't have any idea she was using, although I kind of find that hard to believe. In a place like this…" she said quietly. "Who isn't these days?" She studied the scene herself, both detectives moving aside as a technician brushed past them to start his own work, the photographer having finished. "He's got a brother who's going to come, get him out of here. I've got the address; we'll know where to find him. I didn't want to push too hard. Not right now. The man's in shock. Understandably."
"Not at all," Stephens answered, turning back to study the scene, the young woman on the bed. "Particularly when all signs point to an accidental O.D." Montoya nodded. He shook his head slightly, tried not to think that, at seventeen, the dead girl was the same age as his second-oldest son. "We can get more information in the morning when they're done with the scene, but it looks pretty open and shut." He turned and Montoya moved to follow him back into the small, just as grubby living room where a middle aged man was sitting on a sagging orange and brown patterned couch. Stephens walked over to the man, sitting on the couch, and spoke gently. "We'll be in touch, Mr. Broden. I am sorry for your loss."
The man did not move, did not seem to hear, but Stephens was used to such things and moved instead for the door into the hallway, Montoya a pace behind. As they stepped out into the mid-February night, he turned up the collar on his coat against the biting wind, his gaze down at his feet to protect his face and to avoid the patches of ice visible on the poorly cleared street. They crossed to the car in silence, broken only as Stephens opened his car door. "Must be the brother," Montoya commented, and Stephens turned to see the vague outline of a man in the shadows arguing with the cops at the door to the rundown apartment building, digging into his pocket for identification before being allowed to enter.
"Must be," he answered as he got into the car, shutting the door behind him, rubbing his gloveless hands together to warm them. "I need to go back to the precinct. Want me to drop you at home?"
"No," Montoya answered. "I need to stop in myself."
"You sure? It's late." He glanced at the clock as he turned the key in the ignition and the old engine grumbled about starting in the cold before finally choking to life. One thirty-two a.m.
"Yeah, I am."
"All right," he said, putting the car into gear and easing out of the parking spot, turning at the next corner to head back downtown. They were silent as he drove, Montoya staring out the window with her head resting on her clenched fist, her face generally neutral but showing lines of anger around her eyes. Stephens clenched the steering wheel a little more tightly in his hands, understanding the other detective's frustration. Over twenty years in the police department and there were some cases that never got easier; the accidental overdoses—particularly in someone so young- were always a horrible waste of life. He sighed, glanced again at the clock, and changed lanes. "O.D's seem to be happening more often lately," Stephens said. "The stuff they're bringing in must be more potent or something."
"Yeah," Montoya agreed, but did not elaborate and Stephens did not try to force the conversation. He knew every available hand in narcotics was on the case, and there was certainly no need for their input, particularly when his partner did not seem inclined to conversation. It was something he would just have to work through on his own. Stephens already knew he would feel better once he arrived home, hugged his wife, and checked on his boys.
He parked the car and they both walked without a word to the elevator, taking it up to the offices on one of the upper floors. Walking into the dimmed main room, they both noticed the lights still glowing from underneath the door of the commissioner's office.
"He's still here? Jesus," Montoya commented. "I don't think he sleeps."
"I'll see what's up," Stephens said, setting the papers he had in his hand down onto his desk. "See you in the morning."
"Bright and early," Montoya shot back, sitting down at her desk. Stephens nodded, trying not to think about the sleep he would not be getting, and turned to walk to the opposite side of the room, knocking on Jim Gordon's door quietly. A voice bid him enter after a slight pause and Gerry opened the door.
"It's late, Commish," he told the other man. "You planning on getting some sleep tonight?"
Gordon sat back in his chair and pushed his glasses up his nose, noticing they had slipped down as he bent over an open file. "I'm going to catch a few hours," he told Stephens. "Shouldn't you be home doing the same?"
"Montoya and I just finished. Looked like an overdose. We'll know for sure after the autopsy."
Gordon removed his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "We've had too many of those in the last month," he said. "And everything Narcotics does to stop the dealers from bringing it in only shifts the problem to other parts of the city."
"That really something you can do anything about at…" Stephens checked his watch. "Two o'clock in the morning?"
"No," Jim answered.
"Then seriously, Jim, go home. Another night on your office couch will do you no favors. You have to at some point, and last I checked you haven't in a day or so."
"I understand your dedication, but you're no good to anyone exhausted. Come on, commish. Go home." Gordon sighed, glanced down at the papers, and then closed the folder they rested in. Rising to his feet, he pulled on his suit jacket.
"I'm only going if you're on your way too," he informed the other man.
"On my way," Gerry promised. "If I'm not home by 3 Jess'll start to worry."
"Yeah, I know what that's like," Jim said, picking up his car keys and slipping his cell phone into his pocket, ignoring Stephens' slight wince at his words. "Let's head out, if we're going, or it won't be worth it."
"Aye aye, sir," Stephens said, re-buttoning his jacket before they exited Gordon's office and walked together towards the elevator.
Gordon and Stephens parted ways in the basement parking garage, Gordon fumbling in his pockets for his keys as he walked towards his car, pausing outside it as he separated his car key from the rest. Inserting the key into the door lock, Gordon hesitated, the hairs on the back of his neck standing on end as he turned the key and unlocked the vehicle. His other hand subtly dropped towards his gun, the feeling of threat and presence growing as he slowly turned. There was no sign of anyone, no readily apparent reason for his unease, until a block of shadows moved and coalesced into the form of a man. Gordon visibly relaxed and his hand fell away from his gun as the now-familiar rasp said his name in greeting.
"Batman," Gordon said, leaning back against the door of his car, one hand finding his pocket. "I trust this isn't a social call." A folder appeared from underneath the folds of the cape and offered it to the commissioner, who took it.
"Information on possible narcotics shipments," Batman rasped.
"Get anything on the two kids that turned up dead in Crime Alley last night?"
"Gang war. The major three are still fighting for their share, and the lesser gangs are waiting to see who comes out ahead. "
"It's always something. Christ, I'd have thought things would get better with the mob as fractured as it is. But they're still bringing in this stuff, and worse. If it isn't mob activity it's the gangs. The mayor's really busting my chops on it. He's pressing me hard to bring you in too," Gordon said. "Part of his reelection campaign, he's practically calling it Garcia's War on Crime." He glanced back, opening his mouth to continue, and realized he was alone. With a self-depreciating shrug, he got into his car and pulled out of the garage into the silent streets, heading towards home.
As it had been for over a year, the house was empty when he entered it, hanging his coat on the hook behind the front door, tossing his car keys onto the table beside it. Gordon hesitated in the living room, pondering the kitchen for a brief moment before deciding he was not hungry enough to eat. He turned instead to the stairs, climbing them as a man weighted, exhaustion making every step heavy. Once to the top, he passed the empty rooms and entered the master bedroom. There, he changed into the sweats lying on the unmade bed and flipped through the mail he had picked up on his way into the house. There was nothing of interest, save a slightly tattered postcard with a bear on the front postmarked from somewhere he had never heard of in Wisconsin. It caused him to smile, for sure, but he also felt a flash of sadness as he read the note written in Jimmy's rushed handwriting, smiling at Babs' printing joining his son's at the bottom. It brought them closer to him and farther away all at once, and he wished that he had been a better husband, a better father, that he still had a place in his children's lives. In Barbara's life.
Gordon sighed and put the postcard in a prominent place atop his dresser before flipping through the last few pieces of mail. There was nothing there but bills and junk and political campaign leaflets, and Gordon tossed those aside to go through in more detail when he could think straight. Lying down on his side of the bed, he pulled up the blankets and made sure the alarm clock was on. Four hours of sleep was not going to be even close to enough, but he knew it would be better than nothing. He fell asleep quickly and, for once, did not dream.