A/N Sorry for the complete lack of context here; I've been holding on to this piece for years trying to figure out what happened to get them to this point and have finally decided that it doesn't matter. They can deal with being tossed into this situation and I hope you can as well. Thanks for reading!

A/N (4/14) The lovely Balenthina has translated this into French! Check it out by searching: Le Seul Avec un Masque

There was passive concentration on his face as he grabbed the gun and pulled the man holding it close to knee him square in the gut before pivoting and kicking the man to his right in the thigh. He followed it with a left to the face and he was turning again. The man was unconscious, but Wayne pushed him into the man behind him and they both dropped to the floor. Two men rushed him from the side – this was no movie, where the bad guys lined up one by one – but Wayne was ready for them. Dodging the one and letting momentum take him off balance, a swift blow to the throat and an elbow to the soft flesh of the kidney floored the one attacker before the other had time to turn around and continue his charge. His feet were kicked out from under him as Wayne dodged again and he landed, hard, on his back, winded.

Two men rose from the ground and backed off, slowly. Wayne had picked up the gun. With a wave of the weapon, Wayne dismissed the thugs who had thought that because the Commissioner seemed to walk alone it meant he was unprotected; but not even Gordon had expected this citizen to step up and help him when it looked like he was going to meet his end in a Gotham back alley.

Gordon stepped forward and took the gun from Wayne's hand. He had his in the other hand – had just managed to unholster it and get back onto his feet before the fight was over – and he stood and stared. Not at the unconscious bodies the fleeing men had left behind, but at the face Batman's mask had covered.

How could the Dark Knight of Gotham be this man?

Gordon had put his life in the hands of Batman - had put the city in the hands of Batman - and Batman turned out to be this man? He wouldn't trust a potted plant to Bruce Wayne.

A plastic potted plant.

With a different woman on his arm every week, if not three or four, or an entire ballet company. The man who burned his own mansion down in a drunken tantrum and crashed his car into a police convoy trying to make a light, who bought anything he wanted with a childish impulsiveness and who, publicly, made a fool out of himself in every weekly issue of the papers.

The man who had, by God, crashed into a police convoy and pretended he hadn't even known why. Whose mansion had mysteriously burned hours before the city had been attacked and Batman had defended it. Who had 'hidden' in his panic room while Batman saved the lives of his guests. The man who, as a child had sat in an alley with his parents' bodies for three hours before he was found by an usher and the police had been called. The man who had disappeared without a trace and without accessing his trust fund for ten years.

How had he survived? Why had no one ever asked?

Because, of course, he walked around with a different woman on his arm every week and made a fool out of himself as publicly as possible. Because he knew how to get people to look the other way; be exactly what they think you're supposed to be. They won't look closer. They're too busy being right.

Bruce Wayne turned to look at the Commissioner. Gordon turned and faced the other way.

"Good thing Batman got here when he did," Gordon said. "I was too busy getting that idiot Wayne out of the way to apprehend the vigilante, after all. Wayne wouldn't listen to me, of course, and left the scene against regulations. Off to drink away the shock of the situation with a couple of supermodels, no doubt."

"No doubt," Batman agreed.

The sirens were getting closer, Gordon's quick radio message acknowledged that it was his back-up... Would have been too late to save him by far if he didn't have a friend in the shadows.

"You'll have to—" Gordon said, turning, but Bruce Wayne was gone.

"Typical." Gordon shook his head and smiled.

Later, Gordon would see Bruce Wayne at a function he as commissioner was forced to attend. Wayne would shake his hand and have a conversation with exactly the same amount of disinterest he had always shown before, and then wander away to talk with someone more important.

Gordon tried not to watch the billionaire with any more interest than he would have in the past, but it was difficult when Wayne was the only one in the room with a mask.