Rating: PG-13 for now.
Word count: 2287 for this part.
On the early Monday morning, Montoya calls him saying that Nygma finally started to talk. In riddles, granted, and in rhymes, which drove Montoya up the wall, but the gist was that there was a bomb somewhere in the city, and they had about 12 hours to figure out where.
"We could use help with the interrogation," she adds, her voice lowered and conspiratory, and Jim catches the meaning immediately.
"I'll let him know," he tells her, and adds that he'll be at the station shortly, then disconnects, pocketing the cellphone and turning to the mirror, finishing the knot on his tie.
"Montoya?" Bruce asks, coming out of the bathroom, and Jim nods, trying for a smile.
"She kindly requests your presence."
Bruce gives him a worried look, and then bites his lip, reaching out absently to correct the knot on Jim's tie, straightening it, his fingers sliding along the collar, just skimming across the skin of his neck. Bruce's expression smoothens out, as if the touch had some therapeutic effect, and when he asks the question, his voice is almost calm. "What's wrong?"
Jim doesn't even bother with pretending, if Batman's help is needed the situation must be dire. "Explosives, somewhere in the city. Maybe you could make Nygma speak some sense. He must have accomplices, if only we knew whom he was working with..."
"We can stop to pick the suit on the way," he offers, and Jim looks at him, nodding.
"I still have to drive the kids to school, that would take some time," he says, thinking through the ways to speed the things up. "How about we just meet at the station?"
Bruce shakes his head, smiling slightly. Jim isn't sure he likes that smile, it's the one that clearly says that an idea has formed in his mind, an idea that Jim's going to hate. "How about Babs takes your car and drives herself and Jimmy?"
He was right, he doesn't like it. But it would save some time, and she had been asking him to borrow the car for weeks now, and frankly, he had seen her drive, and she's careful and responsible... he still doesn't like it. But standing here and debating it is wasting time.
"Babs," he calls out, walking to stand up on top of the stairs. "I need to get to the station, and fast."
"We're hurrying up," she yells back, and he hears some dishes clinking. "No, you dork, that's not for the dishwasher!" he hears her tell Jimmy about something, and he rolls his eyes, walking down.
"What I meant," he mutters, dangling his keys for a moment, before throwing them to her. "Bruce is going to give me a ride. You scratch it, you never drive it again. You get into an accident and get yourself and your brother killed, you never drive anything ever again."
"Kind of redundant," Bruce says behind him, quietly, and Jim doesn't deign it with an answer, mostly because Babs squees so loudly his ears might fall off, and pounces to hug him.
"Yes, yes, just be careful," he tells her, and watches her usher Jimmy out, almost forgetting her schoolbag in the process. "I still don't like it."
"She needs to start at some point," Bruce shrugs, his hand brushing Jim's shoulder comfortingly. "And at some point, she should get her own car, you know?"
"You are not buying her a car," Jim warns him, and it's such an old argument he smiles. "Fine, we should be going. Seeing you trash suspects always improves my mood," he says, even though it's not exactly true. But Nygma starts to really annoy him.
If Alfred is surprised on them dropping by, he doesn't show it at all, just offers Jim a cup of tea 'while Master Bruce changes into a more appropriate attire'. Jim sometimes wonders how on earth does Alfred manage to pull off everything he says with such an earnest, polite expression. Astonishing.
Montoya waits for them on the darker end of the two way mirror, her arms crossed as she watches Nygma trace some patterns on the table. "I almost wish he would try to escape, so I could give him a justified kick in the balls."
He nods and doesn't say anything, accepting a warm coffee cup from her. She glances searchingly at Batman, hesitating before she asks him if he wants some coffee. Jim almost laughs at her tone, she sounds a bit amazed, a bit like Babs the first time she saw a Santa Clause in one of the shops, slightly scared but excited. She covers it up quickly, however, and points across the glass at Nygma. "Or do you want to get right on it?"
"Yes," Batman nods, and walks out of the room, and into the adjoining one, and Montoya throws Jim a quick glance. "He's not the talkative type, is he?"
If only she knew, Jim thinks, holding back a smile, but his mustache must be twitching as he bites his lip, because she looks at him more suspiciously. "Did I say something funny, boss?"
"Just watch what's going on, will you?" he tells her pleasantly, and she obediently turns her eyes to the scene in the interrogation, but her smirk doesn't disappear but actually widens.
Sadly, Batman doesn't get them names of Riddler's accomplices, but he does get the answer to the damn riddle, and Renee has the presence of mind to catch Gordon's arm and steady him before he either smashes the glass, or storms out, and then into the interrogation, because she swears, the way the blood drains from his face and his hands curl into painful fists. A school. One of the worst news they could get.
"Commish," she says warningly, pleadingly, anything to get him to think and not act on the first instinct, because for all the self-control Jim Gordon has, this is one of the surefire ways to break it, in any way threaten his family.
What is surprising, however, is Batman's reaction, as violent and sudden as she would have expected if Gordon was in the room instead, sending Nygma flying through what seems like the entire length of the room, landing sprawled on the floor. Then, both of them, Gordon and Batman, are on the corridor before Montoya can even turn her head, and she catches the low urgent conversation, Gordon's voice almost as hoarse as the Bat's, filled with fear and desperation.
"I have to..." Gordon starts, and Batman is already shaking his head.
"Alfred will pick them up and drive them home. Don't worry."
Renee's eyebrows rise so high she's sure they must be meeting her hairline. It sounded comforting, soothing, something she would have never thought Batman the fearsome vigilante was capable of. Gordon looks away, down at his shoes, and the worry on his face fights with guilt, and she thinks that only the Commish would actually feel guilty about being one of the few parents able to get their kids out of the school right now, parents aware of danger. The moment the schools are going to start be evacuated, the bomb will go off. And he can get his kids out, but not all of the kids in all of the schools.
This, in her humble opinion, must suck. And she really wishes she had given Nygma that swift kick in the balls, justified or not.
"I'll make the call," Batman says, and as he turns slightly away, reaching for a device on his belt that looks very much like the one she had seen Gordon use from time to time, his hand rests briefly on Gordon's shoulder, gloved and heavy, but Gordon's reaction is immensely interesting; he relaxes minutely, looking up with some gratitude.
As Batman walks to the side, talking on the semi-phone, she moves to stand near Gordon, and it feels just a little like intruding, but she can't help that. "Boss?" she asks, and he nods, straightening up, schooling down his expression into a more professional one. She doesn't ask if he's alright, and, no matter how much it bugs her, doesn't ask who the hell Alfred is. Not the best moment, she admits.
"Get everyone. I'll notify Garcia, we're going to need a lot of help if we're to pull of a thorough search of every single school without alerting the press."
"Done," Batman says, joining them. Gordon nods, and it takes him a moment to get his voice back, and he swallows as if his throat was too dry.
"Thank you. Now," he says, taking a deep breath before his eyes harden, fear turning into more determination. "We're going to find it."
He is, frankly, quite appalled at how easy it is to pick up children from their school, even without any sort of signed parental consent, or documents confirming his identity. True, Miss Barbara is over sixteen, and young Master Jimmy is almost fifteen, but one would think someone would at least check if he was whom he told he was.
The bored young lady in the principal's office, however, just calls the children into the office, and allows Alfred to usher them out. And, of course, there is the fact they recognise him and greet him cheerfully, but, still, he isn't really impressed with the security of the place.
Master Bruce had explained the situation very briefly, and Alfred answers the kids' questions as best as he can without actually disclosing anything. No, he doesn't know what is going on, yes, their father asked him to pick them up and get them to the Manor, yes, they can stop on the way and get Biscuit.
"Do you have good reception here?" Miss Barbara asks, once they're back at the Manor, and Alfred sets a picnic table out in the garden, and Biscuits takes off chasing imaginary creatures all over the lawn. She holds her cellphone up, waving it around for a moment, and Alfred smiles at her politely.
"We take pride at receiving every guest warmly, Miss Gordon."
She laughs at that happily, then gives her cellphone one last accusing look, before pocketing it. "What is actually going on, Alfred?" she asks, and Master Jimmy looks up from his book, frowning.
"I really hope it's not death threats again. Those weren't fun."
The girl nods her head emphatically, agreeing with her brother. "No one else had security detail at school, not even Helena Garcia. It was totally embarrassing."
The aspects of the entire thing they choose to concentrate on puzzle him, but he supposes it's better than other things they could be considering. He took them out to the garden for the very reason of avoiding any possible news reports, he's not sure what exactly is going on, but is pretty certain that's not something they should worry about now.
"I'm sure it was necessary at the time, Miss Barbara," he tells her gently, and she shrugs.
"I guess," she admits, and he can tell what she's thinking, that they weren't the target, but their father was, and what had almost happened. Her emotions flicker quickly, but she hadn't learned to hide them yet, and Alfred reads them easily. They both had lost so much, and the danger of losing even more must have been terrible, but Jimmy seems to have dealt with it quickly, and it's Miss Barbara who still carries the fear and worry. Alfred would worry, but at least she has the support of her father, and then there's Master Bruce...
The last few years had been amazing, when you looked at the changes in Master Bruce. At the very beginning, Alfred wasn't sure he approved of all that meddling in affairs of Commissioner Gordon, it seemed all too much as if Master Bruce was trying to atone for something, be it the failure to protect Barbara Gordon, or his own parents, sometimes Alfred couldn't identify the main cause of guilt, but the sentiment was unmistakable.
But the results had proven him wrong, and he was damn glad of it. Sure it is nontraditional, but the Gordons had become to Master Bruce something he could call a family, and it made all the difference. Not enough, of course, to let go of the grief and desperation driving him to become the city's protector, Alfred suspects now nothing would do that, not with everything that had happened. But enough to grant him something akin to happiness, and for that Alfred is very grateful.
A ringing phone interrupts his thoughts, and Miss Barbara hastens to pick it up, almost dropping it in the hurried process.
"Hello?" she listens for a longer moment, then nods. "We're fine, Dad. We took Biscuit with us, he loves the garden." Pause, then another nod. "Sure," she hands the phone to Alfred. "He wants to talk to you."
The conversation is brief, Master Gordon just confirms that everything is fine, and they should soon be on their way to the Manor, and asks how the children are doing, and whether they're not causing any trouble. Alfred grumbles that they're of course insufferable, much to Master Jimmy's delight. The boy finds Alfred's deadpan and sarcasm incredibly funny, which, in turn, amuses Alfred. At least there's someone appreciating the art of irony.