Disclaimer: I do not own Grimm or Batman.
"So you still don't know what happened?" Nick asked casually as Wu sat down in Hank's currently vacant desk chair.
Wu shook his head. "No and I might never know."
Nick stared at him. "You sound…remarkably unconcerned about that given that you, well…"
"Had to be hospitalized and have the contents of my stomach emptied out because I was compulsively eating everything in sight and can't remember any of it?" Wu asked.
"Well…yes," Nick agreed. "That."
Wu shrugged. "Shit happens."
"Not to most people, it doesn't," Nick argued. "And yet they keep happening to us, don't they? You should hear some of Hank's conspiracy theories. But then, he still thinks he saw Bigfoot."
He wasn't trying to draw attention to the recent surge of Wesen-related incidents (if it had even been a surge. Maybe cases were always like that and he was just as blind as anyone to the truth) but he figured that given how paranoid Hank was getting and how obvious some of the weirdness was, it would be more suspicious if he pretended not to notice anything at all.
"Maybe he did," Wu said, shrugging again.
Nick groaned. "Oh not you, too!"
"Oh, don't worry, Nick. I don't believe in Bigfoot," Wu assured him. "I just don't not believe in him."
"You can't just not have an opinion on whether Bigfoot exists," Nick told him incredulously.
"Apparently you can," Wu countered. "And I should know."
"Well, why don't you have an opinion?" Nick wanted to know.
"If I don't believe in him and I run into him one day then I don't want to be too shaken to do my job and live to tell the tale," Wu explained. "And if I do…well, Portland's so peaceful that I just don't want to start having to worry that Bigfoot might jump me when I'm out on patrol."
Nick actually snorted at that. "Portland? Peaceful? Compared to what? Sunnydale?"
"There is that," Wu agreed, laughing. "Or Gotham."
"Well, yeah, but I mean, come on," Nick said, leaning back in his chair. "It's Gotham. You can't just start comparing everything to that or you're never going to have to deal with a stressful situation."
"I can live with no more stress," Wu said cheerfully. There was a pause. "Did I ever tell you that I was stationed in Gotham before I came here?"
Nick practically choked. "N-no, you didn't. When was this?"
"I left about a year and a half ago," Wu replied. "So yes, I was there for the occupation of Gotham." He snorted. " 'Occupy Wall Street'? Trust me, that was a damn occupation and I didn't even see most of it."
Nick couldn't stop staring at him. "So you were really there when Bane took the city hostage for five months?"
Wu smiled wryly. "You act like that's so rare. There were quite a few million people who were right there with me, you know."
"True," Nick agreed. "But how many of them are here in Portland?"
"Probably not many," Wu conceded. "New York is all the way on the other side of the country, after all. But I wouldn't be surprised if half the city up and left the minute that they could."
Nick shuddered. "You couldn't pay me to go to Gotham."
"The salary for a cop out there right now is ridiculous," Wu informed him. "Part of it is an apology for the being trapped underground or hunted for five months thing and part of it is a thank you for dealing with that mob. But most of it, I think, is a 'guys, please don't leave us. We still need a police force' kind of thing."
Nick's eyes bulged out. "Really? You were really trapped underground for five months?"
Wu eyed Nick strangely. "Of course. That came out along with everything else after Batman gave his life to save us from that bomb."
"I heard, yeah, but…five months? Trapped completely underground and having food and water dropped down to you?" Nick couldn't believe it.
Wu looked grim. "Oh, that happened. We had razors, too, thank God but no amount of wipes can make up for no showers."
Nick shuddered. "I can imagine."
"You might think you're able to imagine but you're really not," Wu argued. "Nothing can prepare you for that. The scent was so powerful that, I swear, I almost passed out a few times. It was just not a good experience. And there were three thousand of us!"
"Not to, uh, diminish what you went through or anything but I can't believe that you were trapped underground with no clear idea of what was happening for five months and the smell was your biggest concern," Nick marveled.
"I didn't say that it was my biggest concern," Wu pointed out. "But it was certainly an unavoidable one, as petty as it might seem now. At first, none of us were worried about the smell because no one smelled bad at all. Miraculously, no one was killed when the charges went off but we had no idea what had happened at first. We were worried we'd die from lack of air or food or water. Those were the most tense few hours of my life."
"They found a way to get a message to you?" Nick asked rhetorically.
Wu nodded. "Yeah, they did. We could exchange messages on bits of paper and we found out that Bane had taken over the city after destroying a football stadium and blowing up the mayor's private box. Whoever wrote the message was a wise guy and claimed that the most bizarre thing about the situation was that Hines Ward was able to return a kickoff for a touchdown. We were told that we'd be given food and water but that Gotham was on lockdown and if anyone tried to leave then whichever regular citizen had the trigger to a nuclear bomb would blow the entire city up."
"I remember that," Nick told him. "The game was actually on TV. I mean, I wasn't watching it or anything but we saw the footage on the news afterwards. And the president promised that Gotham wouldn't be forgotten and that they'd be sending aid."
"Oh, they kept us alive, alright," Wu said a little bitterly. "But that is literally all that they did."
"I know that that must have been terrible," Nick said sympathetically. "But there actually was a nuclear bomb there and it did go off. If they had tried to force Bane's men out or let people leave then the entire city would have gone up in smoke just like that."
"I'm not saying they necessarily had any better options," Wu admitted. "Just that what they did was terrible. And towards the end, when they everyone knew that the bomb was going off on that day and Blake was trying to evacuate people just in case it couldn't be stopped…they shot at him. They weren't trying to hit him but they still shot at him and then they blew the bridge up from under his feet! They could have killed him and they would have killed everyone if Batman hadn't saved the day."
"That was pretty bad," Nick agreed. "Weren't they brought up on charges for that? I don't even know why they even did that."
Wu nodded. "They were, yeah. I think they just didn't believe that the bomb was really going to go off no matter what and weren't willing to take the risk. Bane promised if anyone left it would explode so letting those people out would just make it explode faster. Of course, Bane and his trigger woman were a little preoccupied at the time."
"So what else was there?" Nick asked. "Besides the smell and the initial fear about no supplies?"
"Well, there wasn't much light so we couldn't see very well," Wu told him. " And there was literally nothing to do. We didn't have so much as a pack of cards and I guess no one thought to send one to us. I know that that sounds even more petty than the smell but…five months. I thought I was going to go mad."
"I'm surprised that no one did," Nick said, shivering.
"Maybe some did," Wu said with a shrug. "Not everyone survived the battle after we were free, you know. And we all had department-mandated counseling. Thankfully I'm not claustrophobic or that would have been even worse. A couple of the guys who were were in pretty bad shape. They didn't even want to go down in the tunnels in the first place. Well, I should say that I wasn't claustrophobic before. Now…well, how do you go through something like that without becoming a little…uncomfortable in confined spaces?"
"I bet that's putting it mildly," Nick remarked.
"Definitely," Wu agreed with a small laugh. "I couldn't even ride an airplane from Gotham to Oregon; I had to drive."
"Airplanes are a lot bigger than cars are, though," Nick pointed out, confused. "And I don't think you've had a problem with a car that I've seen."
Wu shook his head. "No, but that's different. The most important thing about dealing with claustrophobia, I've found, is that you've got to have an exit strategy. I'm in the car and I can generally pull over and get out if I want to. Traffic jams are a little worse but, worse comes to worse, I can still leave. I can't very well leave a plane in mid-air or change my mind or anything."
"I see," Nick said slowly. "The three thousand of you must have been pretty cramped."
"More than just 'pretty'," Wu said curtly. "And we'd hear little snippets of what was going on but it was impossible to convey all of it in a few short notes so we were mostly in the dark about the anarchy ruling over the city. But that wasn't the worse part."
Nick almost didn't want to know. "What was the worst part?"
"The worst part was that we had no idea how long we were going to be down there," Wu said flatly. "In the beginning, we thought it would only be a little while – relatively, that is – before the construction crews started to dig us out. Maybe a few weeks if things were really bad. We never imagined…and then we found out that no one could save us on penalty of having the whole city blown to hell."
"You were abandoned even more than Gotham itself was," Nick concluded softly.
"We were," Wu agreed. "It took us awhile to accept it but most of us believed that we were going to die down there in the end. Maybe the supplies wouldn't be cut off but the bomb could have gone off at any time. And more terrifying than that was the thought that the bomb wouldn't go off and the supplies would stay steady."
Nick frowned, confused. "What's so terrifying about that?"
"Bane held us in contempt for how corrupt we'd 'allowed' the city to become and convinced a vocal segment of the populace to feel as he did. We might have been trapped down there forever. Would you want to stay down there forever? Slowly dying of old age and living amongst corpses? And what if there were children? I don't think anyone got pregnant while we were down there but given enough time then someone surely would have. What would we have done then? It was just…" He trailed off, unable to continue.
Nick leaned forward and looked earnestly at him. "But you did get out. None of that happened."
"Oh, we got out alright," Wu agreed darkly. "But that was almost the end for me."
"What do you mean?" Nick inquired.
"No one was doing anything and finally, on the day that…well, we didn't know it but the half-life decay or whatever on the nuclear bomb meant that in five months, the bomb would go off no matter what if it wasn't stabilized. On the day that the bomb was supposed to go off, my old partner Blake had had enough of useless people being useless and took it upon himself to free us all," Wu recounted, staring at the ceiling.
"Heroic," Nick said approvingly.
"Heroic," Wu repeated, "and stupid. Bane had spies all over the city and of course their biggest collection of prisoners would be watched over. Blake's mission hadn't gone unnoticed but they let him carry it out…right up until the point where he pulled me out and they shot me a few times."
"They shot you?" Nick demanded, eyes wide.
"Kind of a lot, yeah," Wu confirmed dryly. "Fortunately, I had a bullet-proof vest on from back when we had first invaded the tunnels and I hadn't wanted to get shot clearing them out. Still, I was in no shape for the battle. Getting shot might have actually saved my life, you know. We suffered heavy casualties taking back the street and we weren't in the best shape after a few months underground. I will say this, though: we cared more. But none of it would have mattered if Batman hadn't done what he did."
"Batman," Nick repeated, shaking his head.
"What?" Wu asked suspiciously.
"Nothing, it's just…Batman," Nick said again, unsure of how else to explain it.
"You already said that," Wu pointed out.
"It's just hard to believe that that guy was for real, is all. I mean, what is he, a comic book character?" Nick demanded. "Like the X-Men or Iron Man or something?"
"Actually…sort of," Wu told him. "I heard that someone's planning on doing a comic book based on him. They don't know who Batman really was and so they're having a contest to see who gets to name him. I sent in 'Mitchell Moore.'"
"That's not helping me take him any more seriously," Nick warned him.
Wu sighed. "I know but he wasn't like that, really. He was genuinely intimidating."
"Even if he dressed in spandex?" Nick was skeptical.
"I don't know if he wore spandex or not," Wu replied. "I never actually saw him up close and he wore all black anyway. But he terrified criminals and inspired a whole new wave of vigilantes trying to stop crime. They were mostly a nuisance, actually, and I think Batman hated them, too, but their hearts were in the right place. Or at least they were being copycats before Batman took the fall for Harvey Dent but I think they might have come back since Batman became a hero again."
"Why does a city, any city, need a grown man dressing up like a bat and attacking criminals?" Nick demanded.
"Maybe a normal city wouldn't," Wu conceded. "But you're forgetting that you're not dealing with a normal city, Nick. You're dealing with Gotham."
"What does that even mean?" Nick wondered aloud.
Wu shook his head. "You've never been there and so you can't really understand. When I first joined the force…well, my mother started looking for funeral plots the day I joined the academy and as a graduation present she bought me a grave."
"That's kind of morbid," Nick noted.
"She said she was just being practical," Wu continued. "The cops came in three flavors back then: ineffectual, corrupt, or dead. I wasn't about to be a corrupt cop but I couldn't really get much done until Batman showed up and started doing our work for us. I don't mean to make us sound incompetent but…You think you've seen corruption? I was constantly being surprised by the depth of that place's corruption. Then Batman showed up and gave us a fighting chance. And then this one shrink went crazy and unleashed a fear gas on the population, making everyone hallucinate their greatest fear. A lot of people died. Batman saved us. And he was a hero."
"A fear gas doesn't sound all that scary-" Nick started to say. Wu shot him a look. "But if you say that people died then people died. Hallucinating while driving or something is certainly not a good plan."
"And we thought that was bad and then a little while later the Joker showed up and took…well, we thought of it as 'taking the city hostage' at the time but now we know better. Still, he killed a lot of people and sowed anarchy everywhere. He killed a lot of really important people and, unbeknownst to us at the time, corrupted our shining knight DA Harvey Dent into a villain calling himself Two-Face," Wu finished. "And still Batman saved us from the truth of that for eight long years. And then Bane showed up and there was this Talia woman on some epic quest for vengeance and it was all very melodramatic and stupid and who even cares? It's called therapy."
"I can see how you wouldn't feel very sympathetic towards the issues someone had that led to those five months of hell," Nick said slowly. "I'm not feeling very sympathetic either and not just because of the completely unsympathetic was you described it."
"Good," Wu said firmly. "Because I don't quite know what her deal was but it wasn't worth. She could have had the worst life ever and it still wouldn't have justified it. Gotham wasn't fucking Dogville."
"I can't blame you for wanting out after all of that," Nick said, for lack of anything else to say. Wu would never understand about Wesen and Grimms (though, after Gotham, might understand better than other people in his life) but he'd never be able to understand what went on there. He hoped it didn't make him a horrible person that he was grateful.
"I wasn't the only one, believe me," Wu told him. "I figure that most of us that were left put in for transfers. Gotham still needed a police force once the city was opened up so it was slow going but they couldn't really refuse after what we'd been through. Since I got shot a couple of times, I was one of the lucky ones and got out early. Blake's still around last I heard but after that travesty at the bridge he's off the force. We all lost a fine cop that day, the best I've ever known."
"So all these weird window-shattering devices and Bigfoot sightings and medical devices in necks don't faze you," Nick concluded.
Wu laughed. "Faze me? We'd be calling it a miraculous period of peace and prosperity over in Gotham."
That settled it. In case there was ever any doubt (and there never had been), Nick was never ever under any circumstances ever going to Gotham.