Dent seemed to have shaken off the surprise, because he seemed mostly like himself, even though he gave Jim a slightly accusatory look instead of a greeting.
“So, all the time I was asking if you knew who Batman was…”
Jim shrugged. “I was sleeping with him, yes,” he said dryly, causing Rachel to snort into her Styrofoam coffee cup.
“Thank you for that,” Harvey muttered. “How’s your investigation?”
“All we have is a whole bunch of dead ends. But the threat against Garcia at least gives us a hint as to where he might be tomorrow. Maybe we’ll get lucky.”
“I make my own luck,” Harvey said flatly. “And right now, I also have a case to make. Let’s get Lau,” he said with some newfound energy. It was somehow contagious, and despite the slight drowsiness from the painkillers he found himself looking forward to the court appointment.
They got judge Reynolds, whom Jim at least didn’t actively hate; the man was known for his bad-temper, but he never was suspected of corruption. That was a minor victory already.
But this was only a preliminary hearing and they way to winning the case was going to be long and winding. Reynolds listened to the arguments of both Harvey and the seven lawyers for the defense who actually managed to squeeze into the judge’s chambers, set the bail and appointed the next court date, then dismissed everyone.
It wasn’t unexpected and yet somehow disappointing. Jim drove Lau back to the MCU, where he would stay at least until the next court date.
“I’d like to give my resignation,” Montoya welcomed him cheerfully.
“No, you don’t,” Jim told her flatly and she grimaced.
“Damn. Well, worth a try.”
Stephens rolled his eyes. “What Montoya is trying to say, I think, is that if the city hall insists on the public funeral and the honour guard and all… we’re all in deep shit and would like to take our cumulated sick days now.”
“That bad?” Jim asked, leaning over the plans, the city map and the schedule. It really was that bad. The cemetery was fine, they could secure the perimeter easily, but the walk down the streets, with private apartment complexes on each side was going to be a nightmare; too many windows and absolutely no way to guide from which way the shots were going to come.
“Bulletproof vests,” Bullock muttered. “Bulletproof pants and hats wouldn’t go amiss either.”
“I’ll make you that hat,” Montoya suggested, or threatened, you never knew with her. Bullock just smiled at her pleasantly, showing his teeth.
“I never knew that being promoted to Lieutenant would mean running a kindergarten,” Jim muttered and got an absolutely unsympathetic look from Stephens.
“You hired them,” he reminded Jim.
“There’s that. Alright, I want a sweep of the street now, look for hiding places, check the podium and then recheck it, for everything, concentrating on the explosives but don’t limit yourself to those,” he told Bullock who nodded and pulled out his cell. “Gerry, I’ll need backup on the rooftops. They’re public access and they should give them a good view of most of the windows. If they see anything suspicious…”
Montoya was looking at him suspiciously. “What is it?”
“Let me guess, boss, you’re gonna be on the ground with Garcia.”
“You have a problem with that?” he asked lightly and she shrugged.
“No offence meant, boss, but you’re putting yourself in the line of fire. Second time in as many days. There are other people who can guard Garcia.”
Jim nodded. “I know that.”
He withstood her glare and after a moment, she looked away and nodded. “Your call, boss. But I would like to be there too.”
“Fine. Wear your bulletproof hat.”
Bruce called just as they started walking, Jim’s gaze turned upwards as he scanned the buildings they passed for any open window, for a crack between curtains, anything remotely suspicious.
“Fingerprints panned out, I have a suspect, Melvin White, 1502 Randolph Apartments…
“I’ll send the team,” Jim muttered, gesturing at Montoya.
“I can be there in five.”
“No, stay put,” he said, disconnecting. “1502 Randolph Apartments, his name is Melvin White. Go,” he told her and she nodded sharply, turning on her heel and barking orders into her radio. Jim watched her run towards the building, ducking in-between the crowd.
The crowd that was slowly coming to a stop on the Parkside Av, in front of the podium. The press gathered to the side, with Engels and his cameras and Vicki Vale poised with her notebook. She nodded pleasantly at Jim, as if it was a garden party. He shook his head at that.
“How is it going?” Rachel asked him quietly as they walked up the steps to the podium, after Garcia. Jim shrugged.
“Ask me if everyone’s alive in an hour.”
“Is Bruce doing anything stupid?”
“Hopefully, not,” Jim smiled slightly, then his gaze went back up, to the Randolph building’s window.
Garcia was speaking, probably quite eloquently, but Jim didn’t bother to listen. ‘Come on, Montoya,’ he muttered, checking his radio, just in case it suddenly stopped working, or the batteries gave out.
“Boss, it’s the guard,” Montoya’s voice came over finally. “They’re here, tied-up, I think the Joker…” Gordon didn’t listen to her anymore, already moving up, just as the honour guard stepped forward, raising their weapons, then turning them on the Mayor…
Getting shot always hurt, layers of Kevlar or not, bulletproof or not. The impact pushed him backwards, having him stumble over the emptied chairs. His leg hurt like hell in addition, he probably pulled his stitches. It really wasn’t his day, or his week.
He closed his eyes, and when he opened them, people were leaning over him. The sounds of chaos were slightly lower now; he probably blacked out for a moment or two. If he had concussion in addition to the two bullet wounds… well, one bullet wound and one bruise from getting shot, probably… some people were going to get upset.
“What the fuck were you thinking?” Montoya asked, her breathing fast, as if she was running moments before. Jim looked at her from over his skewed glasses and she bit her lip, then shrugged. “I mean, what the fuck were you thinking, boss,” she corrected.
“Well, I liked the morphine drip so much, I’ve figured I’d get myself shot again,” he said, the look on her face telling him she didn’t appreciate the snark. “I was closest, there wasn’t time,” he added, softer.
“You made sure you were the closest,” she accused him, moving to help him up. “Bruce is going to be furious, and I’m going to stand back and enjoy this one,” she warned.
“You could make fortune selling tickets to that show,” Stephens muttered. “We had Garcia escorted to his office, he didn’t want to go home, said he wants update as soon as we have something. Joker’s gone, but Dent caught one of his people. And you should see this,” he said, placing a small plaque in Jim’s hand.
“Officer Jim Gordon?” he read, baffled. “What is it?”
“Joker’s minion was wearing it,” Montoya said grimly.
Ah. Well. He did used to say that if he wasn’t getting death threats then he wasn’t doing his job right. “Question is,” he said slowly, ignoring their concerned looks. “If he didn’t get Garcia, what is his next step? Instead of Harvey he killed two random victims just for their names… Who is he targeting first?”
Montoya shrugged. “That would depend on whether he killed those two just to draw our attention to his next target. Now he has done so.” She shook her head. “Are we really gonna discuss Joker’s MO, or are we getting you somewhere safe, now?”
He didn’t like it, but they could outvote him. And if he played the boss card, he would probably hear he was incapacitated by the bullet wounds. Speaking of which… “Unfortunately, I’ll probably need to make a brief stop at the hospital. Kevlar held, but I pulled the stitches in my leg.”
Montoya positively growled at that. “Do you have a death wish?” she asked, leaning down to inspect his leg, her fingers coming up tainted with blood. “Yep, pulled them. Stephens, help me carry him to the car.”
He was about to protest but, well, bleeding out. And at least after two metres the paramedics took over and it was just that little better than have Montoya grumble into his ear.
“I’m calling Bruce,” she warned him before shutting the doors of the ambulance after him.
Well, at least the paramedics gave him more painkillers, that was nice. Not healthy, considering his last few days and how little he actually ate, but nice. His last semi-conscious thought before drifting off was a decision to take a few days of vacations after this whole damned thing with Joker was over.
His first actually conscious thought upon waking up was that Montoya kept her word, or at least kept her threats.
“I don’t actually get shot on purpose,” he said without opening his eyes.
Bruce snorted humorlessly. “Didn’t really suspect you of that,” he said flatly, standing up from the visitor’s chair. Jim scooted over, letting Bruce sit down on the bed, reaching out to touch Jim’s face. “What am I supposed to do with you?”
Jim shrugged. “Don’t know. Any good ideas.”
“Some,” Bruce muttered, leaning to kiss Jim’s forehead. “You wouldn’t really like them.”
Probably not. “What did I miss?”
“The memo about how you’re too important to some people to be constantly putting yourself in danger?” Bruce offered then nodded. “I thought not. Well, the man they arrested is called Thomas Shiff, paranoid schizophrenic. They’re trying to get some intel on Joker from him, but I doubt it’ll work.”
“That’s all?” Jim asked suspiciously. There was something else, a look in Bruce’s face he couldn’t quite read, damn morphine making him drowsy and his sight didn’t want to concentrate. “And where are my glasses?”
“Here,” Bruce reached into his pocket and took out Jim’s glasses, unfolding them and gently placing them on Jim’s nose.
His vision improved, but Bruce’s face was still unreadable. “What is it? And if you don’t tell me, I’m going to try and stand up and find my phone and call work, and pull my stitches again in the process.” As threats went, this one was terribly weak, but it did work on Bruce.
“You’re Joker’s next target.”
“I knew that,” he shrugged dismissively. “He’s two for four now, so I figure I have some fighting chance. Well, not fighting, considering,” he added, gesturing at himself and the hospital bed, “but with the right security detail…”
“No. Jim, Joker wants me, not you, not really. He wants Batman to reveal himself.”
“No you don’t,” Jim said quickly, the creeping fear running down his spine.
“It’s the only choice. I can’t have people dying because of me. All that will happen is that you’ll have to arrest me. I’ll go through the trial, probably get a low sentence, believe me, with a name like Wayne no judge will be too strict.”
“I know you think you sound reasonable, Bruce, but this is insane,” he muttered.
“I made up my mind.”
“Well, you don’t get to do this,” Jim said angrily. “It’s not your decision to make!”
“Oh, but it is. It’s done, I told Harvey to call the press conference for tomorrow. I’m turning myself in,” he said matter-of-factly and goddamn that stubborn bastard, Jim didn’t think it was worth to waste his breath arguing. He would have time to work on a contingency plan later.
“I really hate you sometimes,” he muttered, and it came out fondly. Bruce nodded and settled in on the bed, lying down next to Jim, pressed against his side.
“I know,” Bruce said softly, his voice muffled by Jim’s hospital shirt as Bruce laid his head down on Jim’s chest, as if listening to his heartbeat.
Jim’s hand automatically went around Bruce, resting on his head, Jim’s fingers gently treading his hair. “It’s okay,” he said, the words forming on his lips unbidden.
Bruce made a noise deep in his throat, something like a groan but not quite, and buried his face in Jim’s shirt, his fingers tightening on Jim’s other hand.
They stayed like this for a long while, Jim absently petting Bruce’s hair, until he drifted off again, falling into listless sleep.
It was nearing dawn when he woke up, the room slowly filling with gray light, and Bruce gone. Jim swore and patted around for his glasses then, upon finding them, his cellphone. He deliberated about the first call and finally chose to call Rachel.
“I know,” she said, picking up. “I suppose it was too much to hope his idiocy ceased when it apparently crossed onto you. Shot twice in two days? Pardon the pun, but are you shooting for some record?”
“Rachel,” he said impatiently and she fell silent for a brief moment, exhaling.
“Harvey says he has a plan,” she said and he could imagine her expression right now; worried because she didn’t know what it was, annoyed because he wouldn’t tell her. Jim could relate.
“Any ideas what the plan entails?” he asked, just in case.
“Let me know if you find out,” she muttered. “And also, how are you?”
“Well, I can feel pain again,” he complained dryly. “But that’s a good thing, as my head is no longer spinning. I wasn’t actually shot that second time, so I should get out of here today.”
“Is that your wishful thinking, or did you actually talk to the doctor?” she asked, and when he didn’t answer, she sighed. “Yes, I figured as much. Honestly, I do believe you and Bruce are perfect for each other,” she said, certainly not meaning it as a compliment. “Well, due to being excluded from some people’s brilliant plans, I have some time. I’ll pick you up. I guess you shouldn’t operate heavy machinery any time soon.”
“I would be very much obliged,” he told her, mollified, and begun to dial Montoya’s number the moment Rachel disconnected. “What the fuck is going on there, Montoya?”
“Oh, look, he’s alive,” she muttered back. “Well, we have nothing to report, really. The men we arrested after the shooting were hired goons with mental problems; they have no idea who Joker is, or where he might be now. He contacted them, not the other way around, yadda yadda. Garcia’s fine, holed up in his office, and pissing off his security guards like I imagine you’ll try to piss off yours in a few moments.”
“I have security guards?” he asked pleasantly and she snorted.
“We’re not amateurs, boss. Well, Bullock is, according to his girlfriend, but well,” she said, loud enough to no doubt annoy Bullock across the bullpen. “They’re outside your room.”
Jim grimaced. If his doctor wasn’t going to sign him out the whole thing could prove problematic with the security detail. He sighed. How did he arrive at the point where he was planning an escape from his hospital room?
“Alright. Now, is there anything else I should know?”
“You mean the press conference Dent has called? He didn’t want to tell us what’s that about either.”
There was that. “Keep me posted if you have anything new.”
“How about when I have something important that requires your attention?” she said pointedly. “Take care boss, will ya?”
“I’ll try,” he muttered and disconnected. Dealing with Montoya in her mother hen mode was always vexing, and yet Jim didn’t mind.
Stephens had a theory about it, but Stephens had a theory about pretty much everything, and they weren’t always right. It was a fact that Montoya’s relationship with her parents was strained; she got quiet after she slipped up and mentioned them. Jim didn’t try and guess, but if he was going to, he’d say that her coming out might have had something to do with that. And whether Stephens was right and Montoya looked up to Jim more due to some of those issues… it didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, and the grand scheme was that he quite liked Renee, and thought she was turning up to be a damn good cop.
She had some way to go still, but she’d turn out to be one of the best, Jim thought.
It took Rachel thirty seven minutes to get to the hospital, nine minutes longer than it took Jim to localize his pants. He suspected Bruce of hiding them, just in case Jim was going to make his escape, but he didn’t have proof and he was damn sure even a CSU team going through the place wouldn’t find any.
“Hey,” she said, knocking on the door after she half-opened them. “How are you?”
“Bored,” Jim shrugged. “And ready to get out of here.”
“I talked to your doctor, she says she can release you to my care but you need to take it easy. She recommended not getting shot again this week,” Rachel said dryly.
Jim sighed. “Yes, she and everyone else. I really don’t plan on those things.”
Rachel nodded and helped him put on his jacket. She gave one look to his tie and pocketed it with a roll of her eyes, which probably meant it didn’t pass muster and Bruce would have burned it anyway. It was probably a small mercy that Bruce would have been busy during the last night, because Jim wouldn’t put it behind him to break in and start a small fire with some of Jim’s clothes. And that would inevitably lead to shopping and god, Jim hated shopping.
“I am under strict orders from Bruce to drive you either home or to the penthouse,” she said with a slight hesitance.
“But?” Jim prompted.
“Garcia wants to see you. I don’t see much harm in you having a meeting in the Mayor’s comfortable office, it’s still taking it easy and not placing yourself in the line of fire…” she shrugged, still unsure. Jim rolled his eyes.
“I can take one meeting. Even a meeting with Garcia beats channel surfing at home.”
“You actually have a tv? I didn’t think you knew where you lived, much less own a tv…”
“Hilarious,” he told her. “I watch news,” he added after a moment.
“Sure you do,” she said as she opened the doors for him, nodding pleasantly at Bowen and Tomski, the two uniforms outside his doors. “Gentlemen going with us?”
Tomski nodded firmly. Jim sighed. “I suppose you won’t listen if I send you away?”
Damn Montoya. Although, this was probably Stephens’ doing, he had the necessary authority to pull that one over Jim. Jim briefly regretted the day he chose to promote Gerry.
They insisted he took a damn crutch to help him walk, but at least signing the release papers went without a hitch, a small mercy in a day that was shaping up to be a pain in the ass; the press was outside. Well, not that many of them, thankfully, one news van and two other reporters with notebooks. And Vale, sitting on the hospital steps, checking her blackberry. Damn.
“Should I worry that the public seems to be very interested in learning about my injuries?”
Rachel shrugged. “Probably,” she nodded at Vicki with a small smile. “But it also shows that they care.”
“You say it like it’s a good thing,” he muttered, waving the questions off. “I’d like to thank everyone for the interest. I’m fine, and I’m sure you have more interesting stories to write,” he said loudly and continued down the steps with as much dignity as he could while still limping slightly. “Miss Vale, if you please,” he nodded at her to follow them. “What’s the commotion all about?”
“Well, my readers are very interested in your well-being,” she said dryly, then stopped, tilting her head at him. “Fine. Am I guessing correctly you’re on your way to the meeting with the Mayor?” she asked, then smiled at his look. “Off the record.”
“Then yes. Why?”
“The Mayor had so far avoided the question about the appointment of the new commissioner, but he said he could divulge this: the good people of Gotham wouldn’t be disappointed with the choice, and that the department needed a strong and incorruptible leader in these difficult times,” she said, tossing her hair over her shoulder with a flourish. It sounded like a direct quote.
Rachel nodded slowly. “I’ve figured as much.”
Jim thought he could tell where this is going, and he wasn’t sure he liked it. “Tell me he doesn’t…”
“I have fifty dollars riding on Garcia appointing you as the new commissioner,” Vicki shrugged. “And I rarely lose the office bets.”
Jim shook his head. “I’m quite sure there are better candidates.”
Vicki looked at him, her notebook poised. “Name three. I’d love to have the Lieutenant Gordon’s list of ideal candidates for the seat.”
Jim thought about it for a moment. He wasn’t sure what Garcia’s shortlist was going to be, but there were very few people he’d be comfortable with. They didn’t agree with Loeb, but he respected the man, and after the initial disapproval, Loeb could work with the Batman, not against him. Who could follow that, Akins? Unlikely. Matthews, maybe, but the man liked his science, not politics. Really, there was…
“Just as I thought,” Vicki muttered.
Jim shrugged, shaking his head again. “I still think your bet is way off.”
“Well, on one hand we have the general distrust in the department that still prevails, and on the other we have its rising star, the man who opposed corruption, saved the city from a madman, build a unit that’s a shining beacon of hope…”
Jim gave her a long look. “You’re really going for that Pulitzer, aren’t you?”
“I write purple prose on the side,” she deadpanned. “The council will back you up in an instant, they were at the party Joker crashed, you probably saved their lives. Not to mention taking a bullet for Garcia yesterday. You think he’s not going to appoint you?”
“And with the death threat from Joker now, you’re a shoe-in,” Rachel piped in, then shrugged at his look. “What?”
“That’s what we’re looking for in the city officials now? Marked as target by criminals?”
“Better than supported by the mob, for example,” Vicki said dryly, leaning against Rachel’s car as they finally reached it. She could have really parked closer, Jim’s leg was beginning to dully hurt.
“Not supported by your local sociopath. Hey, let’s go with that slogan when you run for the Mayor,” Rachel teased, fishing for her keys in her purse.
Jim rolled his eyes. “You wrote that ‘I believe in Harvey Dent’ bit too, didn’t you? Even Bruce thought it was cheesy.”
Vicki laughed. “Well, Lieutenant, care to give me a soundbite for when you inevitably get promoted? It will save you one excruciating meeting with the press.”
“If the earth starts rotating backwards and that happens, you can write that I’m honoured. Not likely, though.”
“We’ll see,” she told him. “Miss Dawes, always a pleasure.”
“Miss Vale,” Rachel smiled back and took the crutch from Jim, loading it into the back seat then walking around the car and getting in. She fastened her seatbelt and gave Jim a considering look.
“Nothing at all,” she shook her head, laughing. Jim really had a feeling he was missing something here.
Half an hour later he was mostly missing an appropriate response when Garcia did offer him the commissioner job.
Well, ‘offer’ wasn’t actually a right word. More like imposed on, refusing to discuss the matter.
Jim was glad he wasn't the one betting against Vale's instincts.