Rating: PG for now.
Word count: 2210 for this part.
The officer next to Montoya shifts, standing up a little straighter, and she doesn't need to take her eyes off the cafe's windows to know that Gordon had joined them on the scene. "Commish," she says, and he moves to stand beside her, his mustache twitching as his lips settle into a tight line. "Did you let him know?"
Gordon nods. "Should be here shortly."
Renee smiles tightly, first good news of the evening, really. Officially, the warrant for Batman's arrest is still out, but no cop would dare to do anything about it, now, not after last year, and a rather public demonstration of Batman's loyalties. Even the sign is back, on every other night, but the Commish rarely goes up to the roof now, and Renee is often the one to turn the light on and leave it there, to once again strike fear in the hearts of Gotham's criminals.
"Do we even have a way of talking to Nygma?" Gordon asks. He's probably the only one stubbornly refusing to use the name the press came up for Nygma, even the guy himself seemed to like it, given that he had taken to signing his notes that way. Riddler. The city got more fucked up every month, if you asked Montoya.
"There's a phone, but he picked up once, and told us he won't be talking to us," she says, rolling her eyes. "Hasn't picked up since. For a guy who likes his wordplay so much, he sure isn't talking a lot."
"Seven people inside?"
"That we know of. The witnesses aren't sure, apparently everything happened too fast for anyone to pay attention."
"While fleeing from a psychopath, not many people do," Gordon mutters, and nods at her. "Fine, we keep calling, we wait," he adds, gritting his teeth, and she knows he doesn't like it at all. Lieutenant Gordon she had met a few years back, would be knocking on the cafe doors already, making a show of not holding any weapon, his open face calm and earnest. Commissioner Gordon from few years back would have done the same. But Jim Gordon didn't take many risks now, not unless they were absolutely necessary, and as much as he seemed to hate it, it was for the better, the kids wouldn't recover from another loss.
"Won't have to wait long," she points out, slight tilt of her head pointing in a direction were shadows had become more substantial moments ago. "Your backup's here," she jokes, and there is that quick odd look passing through Gordon's face, one she keeps on trying to call up, because figuring it out is a challenge that she particularly enjoys. Almost everyone had figured out by now that Commish and Batman are, well, using the word 'friend' in relation to Batman is beyond Montoya, but it's not entirely inappropriate, but there's something more here, and it's been bugging her for months now. And she has twenty bucks riding on this in a bet with Stephens, she'll figure it out sooner or later.
"Let the SWAT team know they should be ready to enter on my mark," he tells her, and moves slightly forward, standing in front of the squad car that serves as a semi-barricade, taking out a small phone-like device she had seen him use a handful of times, and never got to asking about it. At least someone has a way of contacting the Bat, as he doesn't often shows up when they light up the sign either.
She sighs, and pokes Krakowski, the SWAT team leader, in the shoulder. He gives her a comically wounded look. "Commish says to get your game on, we might be moving in soon."
"Our favourite vigilante has arrived?" he guesses, and Renee smiles, shrugging. His tone is dry, but there's no resentment that used to pervade every cop's mentions of the Bat up till around a year ago. The threats to Gordon's life, a normal occurrence in this line of work, had became all too serious and grave at that time, and it was by sheer luck and a minor car accident that he wasn't in his office when a bomb went off there. Stephens had arranged for a 24/7 security detail for Gordon and his family, but even this hadn't stopped a sniper, shooting from the roof opposite to the City Hall.
And this might have been tragic in consequences, if not for Batman's intervention, and by intervention, she meant pushing Commish out of the way and taking a bullet himself. The story hadn't been made public, on Gordon's insistence and for his own reason, but it made rounds on the grapevine, and there was no cop in the city who didn't know by now, and who hadn't rethought that entire witchhunt business. Some of them even know the truth behind the Dent story, but those who do, stand by the unspoken agreement of keeping it quiet. But the trust in Batman slowly returns to the city, and Renee for one is glad for that. Batman still freaks her out a little, especially his insistence to sneak up on people, but having him on their side is comforting.
"What now?" she asks Gordon, and gets a small shrug in return, as he looks towards the shut blinds of the cafe with some concern.
"Now we wait for the signal."
"What's the signal?" she asks, and her voice doesn't even fade completely when one of the windows is crashed by something flying out, something that turns out to be one of those bat-shaped throwy-things. "Oh, that's the signal," she remarks, the SWAT team already passing her by on their way in, and she realises she's talking to herself, because Gordon followed them suit, his gun already drawn. She rolls her eyes, at herself, and at him, and reaches for her own piece, running in after them.
Ten minutes till eleven, the car pulls into the driveway, and Steve turns off the engine hesitantly. The date went quite alright, Babs thinks, even given the unbelievably awkward first half an hour, but she supposes that anyone is allowed to be a little bit shocked under the circumstances. Sure, she might have warned him, but telling people of Bruce Wayne being a frequent guest at their house seems a bit like bragging, and besides, it leads to questions she's not sure she should be answering.
Besides, utter shock looks kind of good on Steve. Many things do, she knows, as she had a slight crush on him for the last three years, which might be slightly pathetic but she chooses to think it consistent. And at least she managed to restrain herself from drawing hearts and writing 'Mrs Barbara Finn' on anything, because then she might have to smack herself over the head with her own pink notepad. If she had a pink notepad.
"So, I should walk you to the door, right?" Steve says, smiling nervously, and she smiles back.
Wonder of wonders, the moment she stopped watching Steve semi-hopefully and started to ignore him completely, he started to notice her. She should have known reverse psychology would work, but somehow she hadn't figured it out until she asked Bruce what to do to get a guy interested in you. He gave her a terrified look before first warning her that if her father asks, that conversation never took place, and then thinking long and hard about the subject.
"Try treating him like an annoyance you have to bear." She gave him a doubtful look, and he shrugged. "I'm not very experienced at dating."
Her look turned into an 'are you freakin' kidding me' one. "Oh, come on. You must have went on a few hundreds of dates. Thousands, if the tabloids are to be believed."
"Which you know they're not," he said pointedly. "Tell me, Babs, the lucky guy, is he on any kind of a sports team?"
She blushed scarlet, which was as good as admitting he was.
"Has girls smiling on him from every side?"
"Unfortunately, yes," she said mournfully. "I know, I know. But he's really good looking. And actually smart. And occasionally funny."
"I'm sure he is," Bruce agreed, and she suspected he was laughing at her, but let it slide, mostly because with Bruce you could rarely tell. "But the point is, if he has so many girls smiling at him, a girl who frowns might stand out. And might be intriguing. And he might just want to make her smile. And when she does, it might just feel so wonderful he might want to get that smile again."
She looked at him for a longer moment, nodding slowly. "Is this you being mushy about Dad?"
"It might be, yes."
"I do not want to listen to you being mushy about Dad," she said pointedly, setting her face into a serious glare, but couldn't pull it off without cracking up. "Okay, I'll try that."
Worked like a charm, if she says so herself. She owes Bruce, and might consider not making gagging noises when she catches him and Dad making out in the kitchen again.
She looks at Steve and smiles, tilting her head, tossing her hair over her shoulder. "I think you should," she nods, and doesn't wait for the pointed silence to fall back around them, just gets out of the car, and Steve follows, with a slightly baffled look on his face that she actually enjoys to be the cause of.
Steve shuffles his feet as they stand on the porch, and she keeps her hand behind her back tugging at her bracelet. "I guess I'll see you on Monday at school," Steve says, and she nods.
"Seeing as we have two classes together, I guess you will."
Steve leans slightly forward, and she closes her eyes, and then there's a racket in the house, glass breaking, and Biscuit barking, and Babs jumps a little, and then rolls her eyes, opening the doors a little. "Is everything okay?" she yells, and there's a moment of silence.
"It's fine, I broke a glass," Dad says, and she would glare at him, but she can't tell where he's standing in the darkness. "Aren't you coming in?"
"Moment," she says, and pulls the doors shut again, raises on her tiptoes, kisses Steve's cheek, and smiles cheerfully at him. "I'll better get inside," she offers and does so, not looking back, and really hoping Bruce was right about the whole challenge thing. "Safe to come in?" she asks after closing the doors again. "Or are there glass shards covering the floor?" she adds, feeling for the light switch and turning on the hall light, stopping in her tracks three steps into the living room. "Oh."
"Get me the first aid kit from the bathroom, will you?" Dad says, and she nods, hurrying. She had seen Batman at their house four or five times before, dropping by to talk to Dad on the porch, and, on one occasion, talk to Jimmy, long while ago. But still, every visit was totally unexpected, especially one when Batman was close to being unconscious, slumped on the couch, and Dad was close to panic, even under the calm composure he was trying to present.
"Here," she hands him the kit.
"Thank you. If you could go check on Jimmy?"
"Sure," Babs nods, and heads upstairs, catching a muttered curse from Dad, and a quiet response from Batman, something that sounds like 'I'll be fine, Jim.'
Jimmy is sound asleep, sprawled on the bed with a stack of comic books next to him, and he had even managed to change into pajamas for once. She debates waking him up, but decides not to, just tiptoes back downstairs.
"You should take that off," Dad is saying, pointing at the cowl, and Babs almost gasps, biting her lip not to.
"Shouldn't," Batman says, and a slight movement of his head alerts Dad, who turns, and looks at Barbara sadly.
"Jimmy's sleeping," she offers, and Dad nods.
"You should be, too. I hope that the date went well?" he says, sounding tired, and she forces a small smile.
"Yeah. I'll tell you about it tomorrow," she nods before turning on her heel and walking upstairs to her room, closing the doors behind her carefully. It's not that the curiosity is not killing her, because it really is, but somehow she's pretty sure it's not a good moment to ask questions. She wonders, how long has Dad known Batman's identity, and how, and... She reaches out to pick up her mp3 player, putting on the headphones and turning on the music, loud enough not to think, because any moment now, she might rethink the entire thing and get back downstairs and lose all the mature and responsible air she managed to call up.