Rating: PG-13 for now.
Word count: 2233 for this part.
A/N: Back from having social life, back to NaNo stories. Started on a request from juana_a for a seriously injured Batman, but took a different direction that she expected, sorry ;).
Jim Gordon had never been prone to panic. He'd be first to admit he did have a temper, and was to known to loose it from time to time, but he did not panic, not unless the circumstances were most dire, and by that, he mostly meant madmen holding guns to the heads of his family.
And the surge of fear he felt now was sudden, and made even worse by the fact that it followed and denied the relief he felt when Batman flew out of the building, seemingly right before the explosion. And maybe it was right before, but one of the shards of wood, or metal, had got to him, because the next thing Jim knew, the dark shape was spiraling down, and falling hard, raising a cloud of dust from the ground.
Jim had been wishing for backup just ten minutes ago, but now he thanks god or anyone up there who may be listening that there's no one else around. He makes his way to Batman, kneeling next to him, rolling him to the side to check for the injuries. His heart sinks at the punctured suit and blood seeping out; in this light, all moving shadows brought by the fire from the explosion, against the dark leather and kevlar, he can't really tell how big the loss is, but it doesn't look good.
He considers his choices, the few of them he has, each worse than the other. He can hear the sirens in the distance, and knows that the fire department, and the police, will be here soon, and the sounds that used to be a relief now spur him into action.
He lifts the Batman, along with the steel rod sticking out of his side, and carries him to the car, short distance, but he's breathing harshly when he makes it, the added weight of the man and the suit is a tad too much. Or he just should work out more, he thinks absently, trying to calm down. Batman mutters something, and he has a rather feverish look already. Moving him was probably a bad idea, but the alternatives were worse. Not like he could just wait for the ambulance.
The road home seems to stretch endlessly, even though he probably breaks a dozen of traffic laws. He thinks of putting up the siren, but that would only draw attention, and that he prefers to avoid, considering his passenger. Jim glances worriedly at the backseat and the man stretched there, cowled head rolled to the side, eyes closed, lips tightly set. He looks like he's having a nightmare, eyelids twitching restlessly. Once they reach Jim's house, he can take a moment longer with getting Batman inside, not having to flee the scene, he moves carefully, trying not to worsen the injury. If he hadn't already, of course.
"Just hang in there," he says, and clumsily gets them both to the bedroom, laying Batman on the bed, hoping as hell that he'll be able to remove the chest piece somehow, without getting electrocuted. Hopefully this extends only to the mask. He's lucky, apparently, even though maneuvering the piece of armour around the piece of steel feels like playing that operation game he hated as a child.
He fumbles for his cellphone, numbers blurring as he tugs his glasses off and pinches the bridge of his nose tiredly, watching Batman shift and groan. "Sheldon?" he asks, and doesn't bother with the apology for calling the good doctor in the middle of the night. Knowing him, all Jim interrupts is work. "I need you to walk me through a medical procedure."
"Where are you?" Sheldon asks immediately, and Jim knows he's going to offer to come over, and honestly, he's really tempted to agree.
"I don't want you to get involved with this. Just tell me what to do," he says, and explains the situation as well as he can, glasses back on, peering closely at the wound. He might be panicking.
Afterwards, the wound bandaged as well as he could manage under the circumstances, he walks to the bathroom and washes his hands of blood. For a few seconds, he doesn't recognise the man in the mirror, but that might just be the fog on his glasses. Sighing, he walks to the kitchen and finds the bottle of scotch, hidden somewhere behind stale cocoa. It's been in his possession for the last three years, and it's not even half emptied, the last time he had actually opened it, it was in celebration of his divorce.
He pours some of the liquid into a glass, filling maybe a quarter of it, and turns the glass in his hand, watching the liquid splash against the sides. When he wakes up in the morning, his fingers are still closed around it, and none of the liquid spilled, which he considers quite an achievement. He pours it back into the bottle, emptying it into the sink would be a great waste of an excellent scotch.
After replacing it in the cabinet, he walks into the bedroom, trying to be as quiet as possible, but the Bat is already awake, tugging at his bandages, looking as if he had already gone through the stage of panic upon waking up, passed bewilderment and confusion, and arrived at annoyance.
"Morning," Jim says, and nods in the general direction of the injury. "Don't poke at it, or it won't heal," he offers, and this, he thinks, must be what loosing your mind feels like, because admonishing Batman like he did Jimmy when he fell off his bike and scraped his knees or elbows... It's kind of amusing, but only a very special kind of.
"Gordon," Batman offers in a manner of greeting, or maybe reassuring himself of what he had already figured out. It couldn't have been a great puzzle, with all the pictures on the walls and the night stand. "How bad is it?"
"Considering that you're mostly coherent and able to sit up, I'd say it's not bad," Jim shrugs, and walks up closer, sitting in the chair next to the bed. "May I?" he asks, waving his hand lightly, and there's only a moment of hesitation before Batman nods, and Jim slowly works to ease the bandage off to take a look at the wound. It doesn't look infected, which was what he had feared the most, and it doesn't seem as dangerous as it did yesterday, but that much he could have expected.
Batman is watching him, gaze flicking from his hands through his face, and Jim doesn't even have to look up to get the question loud and clear. "You know, getting your suit off without removing the mask wasn't that easy. You might look into that, for the future reference," he offers, and finishes putting the bandages back on, still looking only at the task at hand.
"Thank you," Batman says, quietly enough that Jim has to strain to hear it.
"Less work than trying to get you out of jail," Jim shrugs, pretending to misunderstand, knowing that Batman won't call him on it. Indeed, he gets another curt nod, and then the man shifts uncomfortably, as if to get off the bed. "Don't even try," Jim says, hand on Batman's shoulder, gently pressing to steady him. It gets him a defiant look, and really, he used to get those from his kids too, getting one from Batman of all people is... disconcerting. "Apart from the obvious fact that you shouldn't move yet, which I'm sure wouldn't stop you... it's daylight."
Batman looks at him for a very long moment, then glances at the window, grimacing. Jim doesn't like it very much either, to be honest, but he also knows he does have a point. Batman walking down this street in broad daylight? Granted to give some of his neighbours heart attacks, and then bring even more trouble when the news get out.
"House arrest, commissioner?" Batman asks, and it takes Jim a few seconds before he actually realises the Bat is joking and laughs, shaking his head.
"Until the night at least, yes."
Batman nods, and looks away for a beat, and then back at Jim. "I need to contact someone..." he says, and Jim stands up, nodding with understanding.
"Take your time. I think I need a cup of coffee, would you like some?" and if the entire situation seemed surreal, this goes well beyond. Especially since Batman's head rises right at that, and Jim could swear, the pointy ears look a little more at the ready. "Coffee coming up," he smiles, and goes to the kitchen, putting the kettle on and switching on the radio, just to make sure no sound of the conversation makes it out of the bedroom.
It's not that he's not curious, if he was to be honest, the mystery and the puzzle drives him insane; after all, he is a cop, putting pieces together is what he does. Which is exactly why he doesn't want any more pieces, because one day, he might actually get the full picture. And he doesn't really want to, not just because what he doesn't know he can't divulge under oath in court, if it comes to that. Also because the Batman is a symbol, and even though Jim knows painfully well he is as human as they come, the blood he had been washing off his hands yesterday is a great hint on that one, knowing his name and his face would make all the difference.
And yet, a part of him wants to know, desperately, to know the man who had given everything up for the city Jim loves, and the man who had made him feel less alone in the fight to bring some order to it.
He turns the volume up, forcing himself to listen to the news, and the traffic report, and the weather forecast. The kettle whistles, and he measures out a generous amount into both cups, turning the radio off. "Coffee is ready," he yells towards the bedroom, a fair warning, just in case. He walks in, and places the cup on the night stand, pausing in thought. "You should take off the rest of it, it can't be comfortable" he says, gesturing with his own cup. "And as much as it would ridiculous with the cowl, I'll get you some shirt and pants," he says, the slight hesitation at the end making it into a question, even though he didn't intend it as such.
"Could be a good idea," Batman nods, taking a sip, and the rim of the cup clinks lightly against the cowl. It shouldn't be funny, but Jim has to hide a smile. He nods and goes to look through his closet, picking out a simple pair of slacks and one of the t-shirts he wears at home, black faded into dark gray.
He gives Batman a searching glance. "Do you need some help with what?" he asks, and really hopes the man doesn't, this entire thing is already too awkward for his liking. But judging from the network of scars in different stages of healing that mar the man's chest and back, he's well accustomed to disregarding his injuries.
"I can manage," comes the rasp, and Jim nods.
"I can get you some cough drops, too," he offers, slightly amazed at his own audacity. Batman looks at him for a long moment, lips curling, and after a moment, he actually laughs, probably the first time Jim had heard the sound, and it sounds more real than the usual growl, natural, for once.
"It's not the most fortunate," he admits, still smiling a little. "But it's necessary."
Jim wants to protest, say that if he can see the Bat like this, at his most vulnerable, not the imposing symbol anymore, they can dispense with the intimidating tones, but he catches himself, another unwanted piece of the puzzle finding its place. He had met the man. And he doesn't mean the Batman here, he means whoever the man is during the day, because Jim is not fooling himself, masked vigilantes don't just appear out of nowhere, he must have grown up here in Gotham, to come to care for the city that much. They must have met.
He tries to keep his brain from working out the list of possibilities, keeps himself from watching at Batman to guess his height, weight, age. Is he a cop, one of Jim's own men? Is he a lawyer Jim had met on a case? Is he... Jim doesn't want to know, really, but his mind tries to work out the mystery out of habit, and he can't stop thinking about it.
"Let me know if you change your mind about needing help," he offers and walks out, not daring to glance back. He's half tempted to find a way to get the man out of his house, daylight or not. This is going to be a long day.