This is the third in a set of stand-alone, related stories in chronological order. All three deal with supporting characters for Batman in a Shadow of the Bat/Gotham Knights style. This, the third story, mostly takes place during Cataclysm and the NML, and concerns how Renee Montoya sees Batman and Two-Face/Harvey Dent. It takes place prior to Officer Down.

I am rating this one higher in rating than the others due to some very disturbing scenes coming up later in the story. This is at the minimum, a PG-13 to R or higher for violence and implied nonconsensual sex and rape.

Triptych Part Three: Coin Toss

by

Tracey Claybon

All usual disclaimers apply, as always.

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* denotes thoughts

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Renee Montoya came in after a particularly long, rough Friday working for the Gotham Police Department to a blessedly cool, quiet apartment, grateful for the beginning weekend, smiling as she remembered some of the anecdotes Commissioner Gordon and Hardback Bock recounted about different meetings with the Batman during the discussion after the weekly briefing that day.

It was the middle of July, and just like any other big city in the middle of summer, Gotham was a convection oven due to the lack of trees and water - typical for urban concrete jungles.

Renee never complained about the heat any more, unlike some of her newer coworkers, because she remembered what summer had been like during the NML about a year and a half ago - not enough water to drink and no relief from the heat during the daylight, and no cool-off at night to give some respite from the body's baking during the day.

She thought to herself as she shed clothing for a shower:

*I *never* want to take conveniences like air conditioning, ice, and clean water for granted. Not after the NML. *

During her shower, she reviewed her to-do list for the weekend as she relaxed under the pounding warmth from the spray.

*Let's see - call Benny at 8 pm tomorrow, groceries Saturday at the open- air mercado, dinner with Mama and Papa Sunday, work on those reports - forget the reports! Oh, yes, that's right, got to get tickets for the No Doubt with Bounty Killer concert in town next month too --- drat - forgot the mail.*

Renee opened her eyes in shock - she'd been waiting all week for a new piece of software for her older Curtains XP computer that let her network it to the brand new Bosc G4 running PearOS 12.7.4 she'd purchased a couple of weeks ago.

She hurriedly stepped out of the shower, pulling on her favorite pair of leather sneakers, an old but clean blue t-shirt of Benny's that he'd left here during his last liberty two weeks ago and a soft as butter pair of faded 605 Blues jeans, then grabbed her keys and dashed down to the mailbox station downstairs.

She greeted Mrs. Delahunty, her next door neighbor as she left the postal boxes, promising her that she'd have coffee with her next Saturday as they nattered and chattered about current events. Finally, when Mrs. Delahunty walked away, Renee reached into her mailbox and pulled out her mail, then proceeded to sort it.

*Bill.

* Great - the software finally got here. good, now I can REALLY get some things DONE!

*Bill

*Nice card. Who do I know that'd be sending me a nice c.

Renee's world seemed to slow to a crawl, then stop dead still as her eyes focused on the signature on the card.

It was signed simply, "Harvey."

-~-

Renee didn't remember making her way back up to her apartment at all; dimly, in the back of her mind she noted that the phone rang a couple of times, the light faded, then darkness fell, then light returned as the sun rose - but all she could do was sit there and stare at the card with *his* name on it.

And, like at the party when she'd been talking to Jim and MacKenzie, it all came back to her.

She remembered slowly beginning to trust Harvey as the NML got worse and worse; her distrust of Harvey grew less and less with each day, and the feeling of mild loathing that she had had for - and around Harvey's alter ego slowly transferred itself to a previously more trusted pair of shoulders.

The shoulders of the Bat.

There were times early on during the NML that Renee had been more afraid of the Bat then of Two-Face at his most murderous - but even at the worst of that time, she never felt that Batman would have harmed her, personally; it was more like the feeling you got when someone you'd depended on all of a sudden wasn't there - or they stabbed you in the chest as you opened your arms in a hug to them - or worse, you felt they might.

A couple of times, during the NML, a lot more often now- and if she admitted it to herself, *BEFORE* the NML, Renee had seen in the Bat's eyes torture of the soul beyond the fires of hell she'd remembered the street preachers screaming about in the streets. Even now she shuddered thinking about that haunted look she'd seen.

She also remembered the ferocity of the battles that she'd seen between Two- Face and Batman, and to this day wondered where she'd gotten the courage to stand in-between the two of them - and the words to cool both of them down.

.and if she had known then what the results of stopping the two from fighting would be - she would have allowed Batman to take Harvey away. And she would have escaped from Gotham by any means available to her - vow or no vow.

-~_

Tears began falling, unheeded and unchecked, from Renee's eyes as she remembered what had happened next.

-~-

She remembered waking up with an aching head in a jail cell, with her childhood furniture in it, lying on her bed. Remembered sensing a presence in the room with her, noting that a) the presence was very large and very masculine and within touching distance; b) that she was unarmed - and dressed in her old, worn night clothes from high school; and c) there was nowhere she could run. She would have tried to defend herself, but before she could strike, he came into the light so she could see him.

It was Harvey.

He told her that he'd brought her there - and why. He said that he loved her and only wanted her to love him back. She was speechless - but the expression of surprise, shock and dismay on her face must have spoken volumes. In a flash, he changed - from Harvey to the much more dangerous - and deranged - Two-Face.

The Two-Face personality proceeded to tell her that the only reason that she was still alive in his presence was because *Harvey* wanted it that way - if it had been up to *him, he'd have just had her and offed her and been done with it. He also told her that her parents and brother were even now being brought here, to ensure her "cooperation" - and that for their sake, she'd better be REALLY nice to Harvey. After he said that, he got this odd look in his eyes that Renee didn't like at all - and in that moment, she realized that *both* personalities were .interested - but the Harvey part of him was a gentleman, in his cracked way about it - Two-Face wasn't. The Two-Face personality next told her, with a lot of glee in voice and face that Harvey was hiding out and not "seeing" what was going on right now - and that he could do anything that he wanted to do to her.

And then he moved toward Renee with all the grace of a panther stalking prey. She realized his intent a little too late, and fought, but he overwhelmed her.

The memories of the next few hours were still a little blurry for Renee, mercifully. She really wasn't ready to remember what happened there; to this day she still avoided that section of the courthouse, for the memories it brought up.

After he'd dressed himself and covered her now naked and shivering body with the quilt on her bed, Two-Face turned back to her and said two things: he'd be coming back to her again - and if she talked to the Harvey personality about it, fought him or objected in any way, her parents and Benny would suffer the consequences.

And, true to his promise, Two-Face came back. She endured him, at first, knowing that at least her parents and Benny didn't have to witness her humiliation - then Two-Face made the decision to move her brother down to the opposite end of the cell block - close enough to hear and despair that he couldn't help his sister fight him off.

Harvey seemed to truly be unaware that his alter-ego was harming Renee in any way - he even seemed to go out of his way to be gentlemanly and courteous. The cells were kept spotlessly clean; he would go out of his way to bring the best the NML had to offer for Renee and her family.

But, after the end of his trial for Jim Gordon, when faced with the choice of letting her go or continuing to keep her captive, Harvey opted to let her go - after defending Gordon - and surrendered into her hands.

Shortly after the ordeal was over, Renee had been getting ill a lot especially in the mornings, so she made a journey to Dr. Leslie Thompson's clinic. Doctor Thompson confirmed that she was right in her suspicions - she was pregnant, about 6 weeks. She had a hard decision to make - have the child and keep it, have the child and give it up for adoption, or abort the child. She was a lapsed Catholic and somewhat neutral on the subject of abortion, but abortion didn't seem to be the right decision for her at this time. She also felt that having the child and keeping it would be a very bad idea - she would see its father in its face, and she would not be able to forget what happened to her and go on with her life. That left giving the child up for adoption.

Renee mentioned her pregnancy to no one - except Dr. Thompkins, while she decided with whom to place the child.

But the decision was taken out of her hands about a week later - the day the Joker killed Sarah Essen-Gordon; that night - still reeling from the shock - Renee began cramping up and barely made it to Dr. Leslie's office; about 2 hours later, she'd lost the baby; fate made the decision for her.

After the NML concluded, Renee was so busy helping set her city to rights, that she had little time to think about what she'd lost; even Jim Gordon's - and now her own relations - with the Batman were mended, and they went back to the business of protecting their city. She had never really mentioned the pregnancy to anyone at all - and she planned NEVER to tell Harvey or Two-Face of the lost child- she was truly afraid of what might happen then.

She went out of her way to avoid Harvey AND Two-Face - and to the credit of the Two-Face personality, it actually seemed . ashamed of what it had done to her and wanted to make it up to her in some way - and if either personality was aware she was nearby or called to one of his crime scenes, "they" would just leave and not engage the police, often with no warning.

-~-

Renee - when she thought about it at all - felt like in their ways, Two- Face and Batman were more and more two sides of the same coin.

Both had two faces that they showed to the world; both were in some way - or they *had* been - honorable men and they were like the heads and tails of the same coin - perhaps with a little pushing one way, Two-Face might not have gone to evil - and by that same toss of the coin, the Batman might not have gone to the side of the angels?

Ironically enough, perhaps a toss of the coin of fate - or luck - made each what they became.

-~-

But, right here and now, Renee finally allowed herself to grieve - for the things she'd lost during the NML - her heart, to the bit of good she'd seen in Harvey; her illusions - of safety in particular, and most especially her innocence.

And the crumpled and tear-stained card that had fallen unnoticed to the floor where she sat, still crying softly, symbolized that time of her life and especially her losses in ways that the sender never imagined.

-fin-