A/N: HUGE huge thanks to bythegodsbecks for beta-ing this story. You rock my world
THIS IS A DISCLAIMER that is all.
A lot of things were different at the precinct.
When Reese had shown up a couple of hours after the "Harlequin incident", as it had come to be known, with a cuffed suspect willing to negotiate for a full confession, he'd been met mostly with confusion. The general attitude had turned to awe when a search of her offices revealed bills and plans for a meta transferral device, and accounts going back months payable to mercenaries and biotech firms with questionable standards of ethics. Further digging had cleared up loose ends on nearly a hundred closed or cold case files. Even New Gotham Police Commissioner Harris stopped by to congratulate the detective.
It should have been great. It should have been the best thing that had ever happened to Jesse's career. But somehow, when the dust settled and the hype died down, he was still Lieutenant Detective Reese. Still close enough to the bottom of the totem pole to occasionally get the assignments no one else wanted, still seen as the guy who believed in 'weird stuff' and still shrugged off when his suggestions seemed a little too bizarre. Nearly everyone else involved in bringing in Dr. Quinzel and her associates had been promoted or transferred to a more high profile district. Even his former partner, Detective McNally, was given a desk job once he got out of the hospital on account of "long term complications". Reese stayed right where he started, but a lot of things were different.
The odd looks he'd been getting doubled. He was followed by whispered conversations or uncomfortable silences. There even seemed to be an unspoken consensus among the beat cops to give him tons of space to wander off alone at a crime scene. It made meeting Huntress easier, but not his relations with other members of the force. The wary respect and "sir"s from the beat cops, far more sincere than they gave to other detectives, were countered with the uneasy disregard of his fellow detectives. It was as though he'd come down from that clock tower a different person, one no one knew how to react to.
It was a Saturday; several of the guys were planning on seeing the New Gotham Knights take on the Bludhaven Hawks and were eagerly discussing the odds in the break room. Jesse was at his desk, trying to decide if not being invited was the same thing as being not invited, when a sharply dressed older woman sat down in front of him.
"Can I help you, ma'am?" Reese glanced at the door. How had she-
"I used to work as a civilian aid in this office, young man. The desk sergeant still knows me." The woman's tone was as crisp as her collar.
"Oh, well I - "
"I understand you've been associated with New Gotham's dark knights?"
"Dark what? Ma'am I - "
"You are Detective Jesse Reese, are you not?"
"Yes I am, but I - "
"The same Detective Reese responsible for bringing in the Animal gang, the terrorist Harley Quinn, and resolving several serial crimes among the meta community?"
"You know about the - "
"I know about many things, Detective Reese. The question is: how much do you know? Do you have any idea what kind of people you are becoming involved with? The harm or benefit your actions will have for the people of New Gotham? The challenges associated with your new working relations?"
Reese stopped and stared at the woman. She hadn't moved since she sat down, still in her winter coat with her handbag clasped tightly on her lap. "Look, ma'am, whatever you may have heard 'bout vigilantism in New Gotham, I can assure you it's completely illegal and those associated will answer to the fullest extent of the law."
"And I can assure you, Detective, that it is by no means a recent phenomenon." She unclasped her handbag, taking out a rather large sheaf of notes and a thick leather bound book. "Take these. They were entrusted to me by Commissioner Gordon upon his retirement. Shortly thereafter, the police force was reorganized. A great many files were lost and people were replaced, erasing the record of one of our greatest knights even as he left in shame and despair. Hopefully these will help you and your knight to avoid that fate. God knows we need you." She stood, tucking her handbag under her arm. "Good luck, Detective. You have been selected by New Gotham's dark knights. It is a dangerous position, but a noble one, and reflects well on you." She turned to leave, but stopped, glancing at the laughing men in the break room. "Oh, the next time you see Barbara, remind her to call her brother. That family always works too hard."
Reese spent the rest of that day and the next pouring over the notes. They were mostly case files, some newspaper clippings, all quoting or written by Commissioner Gordon, and referring to another individual; a man known alternately as "Batman", "the Bat", or in one memorable newspaper article: "the Caped Crusader". The book proved to be case notes by Gordon himself, each one also referring to the enigmatic Batman. Some cases seemed to be partially copied from another source, as though Gordon had kept this book separate for cases he worked on with the vigilante, and occasionally had to recopy notes when the Batman joined in later. After a couple years worth of cases, new names popped up. Reese nearly dropped his coffee when Black Canary appeared in the margins. Robin was a common one, appearing even after the note Robin now 'Nightwing' relocated to BH. The final alternate name to appear, for the last couple of cases, was Batgirl, mention of whom tended to be accompanied with more personal notes such as Reminder to call mother, or Needs new shoes.
The book ended with the Commissioner's final case before retirement: the arrest of a man known as "Joker". The name had appeared several previous times in the book, as well as more than once in the more recent "Harlequin Incident" trials. Something was missing. Something wasn't adding up that he couldn't quite place. He glanced at the clock. 9:30 on a Friday. Helena would be bartending tonight. He triggered the ring.
Less than a minute later, his desk phone rang, the secure line.
"Detective Reese, this is Oracle. Should I signal Huntress?"
"Actually, Barbara, it's you I need to talk to."
"Okay, I'm going to assume that Huntress told you my name and remind you that we maintain secret identities for a reason."
"I heard both her and Alfred call you that while cleaning up after Harley Quinn, considering this is a secure line and no one else is in the office, I think we're fine."
"All the same. Is there a particular reason you needed me?"
"I have some case files here about a Commissioner Gordon and a vigilante known as Batman that I was wondering if you could clear up for me."
"And what is the relevance of this?"
"Very little, except that Alfred happened to tell me your last name as well."
Silence on the other end.
"What do you want from me?"
"I just - "
"What do you want from me?"
Reese sighed and rubbed his temples; this was not going according to plan. "I want to know how those two worked together. I want to know how Gordon was able to put together enough evidence for conviction when criminals were dropped on his doorstep. I want to know how your father maintained his integrity as a cop while working with a man who went so far outside the law. That's it."
There was a pause, "You want to know how to work with Huntress," He could hear a keyboard clacking on the other end. "Or how to get by at the office now that you're working with her. And you think that knowing more about my father and Batman can help?"
"I figured you're the closest thing to someone who's been on both sides of the bat symbol."
He could hear a smile in her voice. "That's one way of putting it."
"Any insight would be appreciated."
She sighed, "Patience. And trust. A person who works the way Huntress does or Batman did learns not to trust anyone. But those they do they trust completely. Remember that it's a partnership different from anything else on the police force. Everything else is between you and Huntress. The day-to-day stuff either doesn't matter or will come in its own time."
"Probably would have been useful if I'd talked to you earlier then, huh?"
"We don't work that way."
"But if you need me, you know where to find me."
"Thanks. Oh, and Oracle?"
"Call your brother." Reese hung up the phone. He had enough mysterious women in his life. Maybe it was his turn to be mysterious right back.