Pairing: Jim/Bruce, eventually.
Rating: PG-13 for now.
Word count: 1789
A/N: second part today, since it's my last completely free day in the foreseeable future :)
“So, what did he have to say?” Montoya asked, after knocking on his open door and letting herself in.
“What did who have to say?” Jim shot back, not looking away from the screen, going through the cold cases reports. He didn’t have to look at her to know she eyerolled pretty hard before ignoring his clear reluctance to have this conversation.
“I know there is this stereotype that hot women must be stupid, but I didn’t think you subscribed to it,” she said dryly. “I am very disappointed, boss.”
“Montoya,” he said tiredly, leaning back in his chair and pushing his glasses up, pinching the bridge of his nose. He should have caught some sleep on the plane, but instead he had just continued on reading the same files for a hundredth time.
“Present and accounted for,” she announced, then apparently decided to give him a break. “I may not know officially, but it’s pretty easy to figure out that the Bat is still on our side. And I’m slightly offended that you told Stephens and Bullock and not me.”
“Need to know, Detective. File a formal complaint if you think you’re being treated unfairly, I’ll be sure to look into it,” he told her dryly, then sighed. “I told Stephens,” he admitted flatly. “Who had to tell Bullock once Harvey pulled his gun on Batman.”
She whistled quietly. “He did that? That’s actually kind of impressive. Stupid, but impressive.”
She really reminded him of his own kids, and not in a good way, sometimes. He sighed, and clicked the cold cases system closed. The Bat was probably looking into that, and he would be more thorough than Gordon could be, and had better access to other cities’ systems, not having to jump through the legal hoops to get it. And Gordon should care much more about that one than he did.
“Montoya, point, any time soon?” he asked pleadingly, and she immediately grew serious.
“Unless you’re taking over the case, I think I’m still the primary. Would be nice to know if you had something. Or are you taking over the case?”
She was more than right, and he hated when that happened. On the other hand, he hired her specifically for those more annoying qualities of her, they made her a good cop. “No, it’s yours. My working theory is that our friend Mr Zsasz is back in town.”
“Shit,” she muttered, expressing his own sentiments succinctly. “I thought he was dead?”
“That was our assumption too, but it looks like him. I suppose the first time he run rampant around the city was before your time?” he asked more than stated, and she nodded.
“Before my time at the MCU, yeah. But I guess everyone had a chance to admire his handiwork, the news get around between the departments.”
So they did. There was no stopping the gossip mill on the force, which was mostly why he was reluctant to bring anyone but Stephens on the big secret a while back, once the news got out, they were bound to travel far, and his agreement with the Bat about Dent still stood, no matter his personal opinion on it.
“My sources,” he gave her a quick look to make sure she understood, “are supporting the theory, looking into it. I’ll keep you posted on what I have. Take Bullock to ride with you as the secondary, and whoever else you need. I want this case closed fast.”
“Yeah,” she agreed, nodding curtly. “Do we know why he’s back? I mean, I know all the crazy roads lead to Gotham, but why now?”
“That’s exactly what I’m trying to figure out,” he shook his head. “No luck so far.”
His computer pinged, announcing a message, and he clicked it open, skimming through the files. “He’s definitely efficient,” he muttered, not completely able to keep the fond note out of his voice. “I’ll send this over to you, have fun with figuring out which could be Zsasz’ work.”
“I’m sure there’s great fun to be had,” she agreed gravely and stood up. “Speaking of fun, I had Stacy accept the Wayne invite for you. No need to thank me.”
“Why am I not sending you to Patrol, Detective?” he asked tiredly, making a note in his calendar for the day after the next, hoping against hope that something else would come up in the meantime, something important and requiring his personal attention.
“Because I’m delightful to have around, boss,” she said with a winning smile and headed out, reaching for her cellphone.
Jim was pretty sure that was not the reason, really, but yelling it after her would be unbecoming of a commissioner. Sadly.
He reached for his own phone, wanting to call the kids before it was too late in the night to do so. He hadn’t missed a day so far, and he wasn’t going to, vexing case or no case.
Once Barbara picked up the phone, he turned around in his chair, facing away from the computer screen. There was a clear line between personal and professional, and this was it, this was not thinking of the case when he was talking to Babs about her horse-riding lessons and to Jimmy about his practice.
Jim made allowances now, took work home because home was only his apartment and nothing else, but the line was still there.
“Take care of yourself,” Barbara told him at the end of the conversation. “I don’t know what you’re working on, and I don’t think I want to know, but you sound tired, Jim.”
That was because he was tired, but he didn’t tell her that, just thanked her for the concern and promised to rest sometime soon. He lied, of course, but she was used to that, and didn’t even call him on it. Disconnecting, he turned back to the screen. Batman had done part of his work for him, but that wasn’t any excuse, there were still things to be checked out.
He briefly considered stopping for the day, but quickly discarded the thought and opened the reports from all the murders Zsasz was officially responsible for. Maybe there was something to be found there.
After the seventh one, he began to rethink this particular brilliant idea. He needed rest, or at least a cup of coffee. Stacy went home hours ago, as most of the sane people tended to do once their shift ended, and so the only coffee he was going to get, was one he made for himself. It limited his options somehow, as Stacy had her stash of good coffee hidden somewhere, and he was doomed to the travesty from the office coffee machine.
He filled the cup to the brim, and slowly made his way back to his office, managing not to spill any of it, or at least not until one of the shadows moved, startling him enough to spill some of the scalding liquid over his hand.
“Fuck,” he muttered, and kicked the doors closed before stepping in, placing the cup on his desk, away from the heap of files, and looking for something to wipe his hands with. “Didn’t I tell you not to do that?” he asked, mostly rhetorically.
“You’ve been looking into the old cases,” the Bat said, glancing at the screen, and Jim nodded, deciding to leave the discussion on how these visits were dangerous and unnecessary, since they could be meeting someplace else. Last time that someplace else was his apartment, though, and he was not thinking about the implications of that one, of inviting the Bat over for… Well, he wasn’t thinking about it.
And he did think he had more time before facing Batman again, after their last conversation, after the things said and those unsaid.
“You found something there?” he asked instead.
“Zsasz killed thirty six people in Gotham before he was arrested. Attacked thirty eight altogether. One of those who got out alive was in a coma for the last five years,” Bat said, all business, making Jim feel slightly uncomfortable with his own line of thoughts moments ago. Personal and professional, there was a line.
“Was in a coma?”
“Woke up three weeks ago. This can’t be a coincidence. And I don’t think a man like Zsasz would want any unfinished business.”
“Yes, he’s as efficient as he is deranged,” Gordon agreed wearily, shaking his head, calling up the file. He remembered the victim, a kid, really, barely out of high school, freshman at the GSU, walking down a wrong street at a wrong time. “I’ll arrange for a protection detail for him,” he said, reaching for the phone, but something in the air, a small drop in the temperature, stopped him short. “What is it?” he asked, afraid that he already knew.
“How did Zsasz know? It wasn’t a news item, I checked the reports from the last weeks, there was nothing.”
People who would have known would be the friends and family, the doctors, and the police officers handling his case, who would have been informed. Jim had a sinking feeling that he knew the answer, and he didn’t like it one bit.
Zsasz kept a tally of his victims etched into his skin, one that got away must have been a sore spot. But he must have had someone here, in the city, informing him, and Jim doubted it was someone from the vic’s family.
“I hate this,” he muttered, not caring if the Bat was still there to hear this. “Every time I think I have a department I can work with, something like this happens, something to make me doubt again.”
“It gets better,” Batman said after a moment, his voice more hoarse than usual, rough with some emotion Jim couldn’t decipher clearly. “You’re making it better,” he added, his gloved hand briefly resting on Jim’s shoulder before he moved back, the slightest gesture of comfort meaning that much more because of who was offering it. “I’ll keep you informed of anything I find. There are some… sources I can look into.”
He stepped away, disappearing in the shadows somehow, as was his wont. Jim stayed still for a long while, his eyes half closed. His screen darkened, putting itself to sleep, the steam from the coffee cup slowly disappeared. He was still tired, and still worried and disappointed, but somehow, in the midst of it, he did feel slightly better.