“Why me?” Jim asked Garcia after a long moment, after looking at the man for a while and trying to figure out when the hell did his life turn into that, into sitting in the Mayor’s office and being offered a job in the city hall, running the department he once suspected he’d be thrown out of for insubordination.
Garcia laughed. “You know, I’m pretty sure if I offered the position to anyone else, they wouldn’t make it sound like it was a punishment.”
“And yet you’re not offering it to anyone else, and I’d like my answer now.” It’s probably not a good thing to say, but Jim’s had been shot twice in as many days, as people are fond of reminding him, and his bullshit tolerance is set to dangerously low at the moment.
“Because no one else would make it sound like a punishment,” Garcia said plainly and it wasn’t an answer and yet it was.
Jim hadn’t had much dealings with the mayor so far, but even if the man was, first and foremost, a politician, he also was someone who went to Loeb’s funeral to give the eulogy even though Joker promised to kill him. It could have been designed to appeal to the voters in light of the reelection, but even then, it was bold. It was something Jim would have done; he couldn’t find fault in that.
“I’m not moving into the city hall office,” he warned. “It’s a giant fishbowl and it makes me nervous. I’m staying at the MCU. And I don’t want to be drawn into any political games, and all the appointments I make in the department will be my decision only.”
Garcia had been smiling since about the third word Jim spoke. “Deal.”
“I’m going to regret this, aren’t I?” Jim sighed and shook Garcia’s hand and left the office with a feeling that he had been played, and expertly.
Rachel was waiting for him outside and she stood up, folding her coat and smiling. “So, how was it?”
Jim sighed. “Vale’s wasting her time as a reporter, she’d make a fortune as a psychic.”
“That good, eh?” she beamed at him and handed him the crutch he left propped against the wall. “Don’t even, you shouldn’t overtax yourself.”
Arguing would probably be pointless, so he just nodded.
“And Harvey called, his conference is in half an hour. Says you might want to see that.”
“Why do I have bad feelings about this?” he muttered.
“Because you actually met Harvey and Bruce more than one time?” she shrugged and then smirked.
“Nothing. But next time we should meet up at my place, you bring martini and I break out the ice cream.”
“You’re hilarious. Why didn’t you go into comedy?”
You had to give one to Harvey; when he called a press conference it was one to remember. It seemed like every journalist worth they salt had shown up, along with some who couldn’t probably afford a saltshaker.
Vicki Vale caught his eye over the crowd and gave him thumbs up, smiling widely. Jim rolled his eyes at her.
“I think she likes you,” Rachel muttered into his ear.
Jim looked at her. “The hallucinogen was last year, why is the entire city going insane now?”
The question held relevant five minutes later, after Harvey announced himself Batman.
“That fucking bastard,” Rachel muttered, and Jim wasn’t sure whom she meant, probably both Bruce and Harvey. Harvey himself nodded at Jim, gesturing at his hands, held in front, wrists together, and Jim had no choice but to reach for his damn handcuffs and arrest him.
“I know what I’m doing,” Harvey assured him cheerfully.
“I hope so, for your sake, or Rachel’s going to kill you.”
The plan was even more insane than Jim thought it would be, but it also could work. And it was slightly better than Bruce turning himself in. There was that.
“We’ll draw out the Joker,” Bruce said, or rather, Batman did, as they met in the interrogation room of the MCU to go over the plan once again. “On our terms.”
“Well, I know my part in all of this,” Harvey shrugged. “What’s the rest of the plan?”
“You mean you didn’t think it all the way through?” Rachel said with barely held irritation.
Harvey shrugged, taking out a coin from his pocket. He smiled at Rachel and threw it to her. “Heads, I go through with it.”
She shook her head and tried to contain a smile. “You better get him through this alive,” she told Bruce who nodded seriously.
“How many men can we get?”
“I have the SWAT team on the ready, we got air support from the choppers,” Jim said. “We’ll have Harvey in the armored van, it’s not easy to get through.”
“Not easy but also not impossible. We’ll need more men protecting it,” Montoya said, leaning over the roster.
“I can drive it,” Jim said and wasn’t even that surprised when at least four voices simultaneously announced that no, he couldn’t.
“Bullock can drive,” Stephens said firmly. “No discussion, Jim. Apart from the fact that you’re more of an another target for the Joker and less the security, I fear that if you kick the bucket, Garcia may try and promote me and that would be a tragedy.”
“Seconded,” Montoya muttered, earning himself a mock glare from Stephens. “Hey, I was agreeing with you.”
“So, I’m just benched for this one?” Jim asked.
“You’ll oversee,” Bruce told him.
“That’s fancy talk for benched,” Montoya nodded. “Don’t worry boss, next insane clown to terrorize the city, he’s all yours.”
Bullock sighed heavily. “The sad thing is, it’s not an empty promise. It’s an actual possibility that we could have another insane clown.”
“You’re a clown and you’re a few tacos short of a combo meal, does that count?” Montoya asked curiously.
Jim rolled his eyes and picked up his earpiece, switching it on. “Message for Montoya – cut the crap and get going,” he muttered to the receiver. She smiled brilliantly at him and patted his shoulder.
“Just don’t try and get into the action, okay?” she muttered, and they all started to file out, setting to their tasks.
Bruce stayed on. “Jim, she’s right, sit this one out.”
Jim nodded. “I suppose you’ll tell me you will be much calmer out there if you know I’m safe, and therefore you won’t make any stupid mistakes?”
“I wasn’t going to say that, but yes,” he said and shifted, step closer to Jim. They were still in the interrogation room, one way mirror allowing anyone who happened to be on the other side of it see them, so all he did was place a hand on Jim’s shoulder. “And my mistakes are never stupid. Occasionally foolish, maybe.”
Jim smiled. “Be careful out there.”
“I will,” Bruce promised.
Thing was; the insane dash through the city’s streets, while destroying about half of the city’s main communication arteries and causing millions in damages to the GCPD property probably was being careful and playing it safe.
Jim wasn’t sure which feeling was stronger in him during the next half an hour or so: worry of annoyance of not being able to be there. It was probably a tie.
The chatter over the comms wasn’t helping; from the worrying exclamations about things exploding, to Montoya’s motormouth commentary on how insane Joker was and how on earth did Bullock get his driving license anyway?
“Who told you I had one,” Bullock said through his gritted teeth at one point, shutting her up for the whole grand four seconds.
Jim jumped at that occasion. “Montoya, less chatter and more reporting. How does it look on your end?”
“Well, we have the choppers coming in now, it should…” she said over some louder noise, her voice hoarse. “Fuck,” she muttered.
“Well, we don’t have choppers,” she said grimly, in tune to the rest of the reports coming in. Damn fucking wires. Jim was really beginning to hate the Joker.
“Hey, since when the Bat has a motorcycle?” she said next, and he could hear her frown. No wonder, Jim had no idea Bruce had anything of the sort.
But he could take a guess what it was called, and it started with letters b, a, and t, he’d bet dollars against nuts on that one.
“What’s going on?” he asked after the things in his earpiece seemed to calm down a little, indicating a turn; for better or for much, much worse.
“The weirdest game of chicken I have ever seen,” Stephens muttered, then fell silent for a moment, leaving Jim to imagine the possibilities.
This was precisely why Jim hated not being in the field. “Gerry?”
“Gotta go, Jim, Bullock has Joker,” he said quickly, already on the move.
Thankfully, Montoya picked up where he left off, because otherwise Jim could swear someone was going to get fired. “We’re all fine,” she told him. “Bat took a spill from his new spiffy ride, but ya know the guy, he just picked himself up and didn’t even seem to wrinkle his cape,” she added. “We’re bringing the Joker in, Bullock has him handcuffed. God, he’s going to be gloating about it a lot, isn’t he?”
“Yeah, yeah, give a girl a moment. Harvey’s fine, they’re heading back to the MCU. I guess I’m getting stuck with the cleaning crew.”
“Someone has to,” Jim said, shrugging. It felt like breathing again, when the worry melted away. “Just make sure everyone knows what they’re doing and head home. Everyone needs a rest and you’re on the early shift tomorrow.”
“Lucky me,” she sighed theatrically. “Over and out, boss.”
Jim nodded and switched channels, and after a few brief check-ins with the various units, could finally let go of the controls and breathe out, his quickened pulse calming down. He walked out from the room and found Rachel, sitting nervously on one of the plastic chairs, playing with the ring on her finger.
“They’re fine,” he told her. “Joker had been arrested, and Harvey is on his way back here with them.”
She nodded, biting her lip as her lip all but trembled, and she stepped forward to hug Jim, her body relaxing as she too breathed a sigh of relief.
Jim patted her hair and she smiled at him as she stepped back, head tilted. “And… Batman?” she said after a pause, mindful of their surroundings, the corridor they were standing in ending in the busy main office area.
“Renee says he’s fine,” Jim said with a wry grin. “This may mean any number of injuries he’s hiding, but, well, he’s walking,” he said and Rachel nodded, her eyeroll not doing a good job of hiding her concern that mirrored his. “Shall we?” he said, tilting his head towards the main area and she nodded, following hers.
Everyone there was suspiciously busy with their work, but the mystery was solved very quickly, by the presence of Mayor Garcia making himself at home in Jim’s office.
“Wonderful,” Jim muttered, causing Rachel to laugh.
“You know you’re going to have meetings with him at least once a week now you took the job?” she pointed out.
“Wonderful,” he repeated, with even less enthusiasm. It was hard to do, but he managed. “Too late to turn it down?”
Garcia seemed to catch that last part as they walked into the office and smiled winningly, the campaign smile, all too smug for Jim’s liking. “After managing to arrest Joker not three hours after your appointment? You’re stuck, Gordon.”
Yes, that’s what he figured, too.
The quiet atmosphere of relief didn’t last long; Stephens and Bullock must have driven as far as during the chase, to get the Joker to the MCU so fast.
“Better not to risk any of his minions trying to free him,” Stephens muttered at Jim’s look.
“They still may try here,” Jim said dryly.
“Well, the building is better suited for anything short of a direct bombing,” Gerry’s tone was thoughtful, as if he considered the possibility and couldn’t quite dismiss it. It really said a lot about the city, when this was a thought you couldn’t shake off.
“Where’s Harvey?” Rachel asked, craning her neck, bouncing on the soles of her feet impatiently.
“Got cornered by the press. Last time I’ve seen him, he’s been dodging Vale’s questions. She’s a shark, that one,” Stephens said gleefully, glancing at Jim as Rachel hurried out of the office and down the staircase. “Been asking about you too,” he added slyly.
Jim sighed. “I really wish people would stop making such a fuss,” he muttered. “I’m just doing my job, like everyone else.”
“Oh, did I congratulate you, commissioner?” Joker perked up from where Bullock was taking his prints. His head rolled up, gaze suddenly focusing on Jim. It was uncomfortable to say the least, and bordered on disturbing.
“What do we know?” Jim said, ignoring him.
Stephens shrugged. “Nothing, not a damn thing. We’ll check the prints, but we’ve had partials before and they didn’t match to anything. His clothes are custom made, no tags, no ID, nothing in his pockets. Doesn’t even carry a wallet. Lots of knives, though.”
“How’s…” Jim started, and stopped, mindful of Garcia standing right next to him, of the Joker few metres away. Not the tight time to ask about Batman.
Gerry, however, just nodded. “You know, I think you should go home for the rest of the night, Jim. We can handle things here, Joker’s not going anywhere.”
“I’m not,” Joker agreed, waving his handcuffed hands, then inspecting his fingers, marred with dark ink. “I’ll be right here, waiting for you. Wouldn’t miss it for the world…” he offered, drawing out the last word. There was something in his voice, a trace of enthusiasm, of gleeful anxiety, that worried Jim something awful.
But once the adrenaline rush was, once again, over, he was beginning to feel all the lovely consequences of the last few days, and being shot twice. No matter how he protested, people were right, he should be taking things easy for a few days.
Not that the city would allow for that. But one evening, that wasn’t much to ask for, and Joker was now being led to get locked up, so it was a good moment to try. And, well, he really wanted to check up on Bruce. Montoya mentioned he took a spill from a motorcycle, that didn’t sound comforting.
“Go,” Stephens muttered forcefully. “Everyone insists,” he added, an odd inflection on the words. Batman must have talked to him; Gerry wore just that expression.
“You’ll be fine here?” he asked one more time.
Gerry snorted. “I’m pretty sure the department can run itself for a few hours. Not that you’re not indispensable. Now do get out of here,” he added with a smile and Jim offered him a mock salute.
“Get some rest, Gordon,” Garcia chorused, slapping Jim’s back approvingly. “The GCPD took a major victory today, you deserve a moment of peace.”
Jim would like him so much more if the man didn’t always sound like his own press release.
He ran into Harvey and Rachel outside. Harvey grinned wryly at him. “I now know why I didn’t choose a career in the police force. Too much excitement.”
Rachel rolled her eyes at him. “Try and say that without grinning like a lunatic,” she advised him. “How’s Bruce?” she asked Jim.
“I’m on my way to find out.”
“Tell him thanks,” Harvey nodded seriously.
“I will,” Jim quickly bid them goodnight, before the press gathered few metres away became too interested. He could see the glint in Vicki Vale’s eye and he didn’t like it one bit. There were going to be questions, and lots of them and he was beginning to feel the full extent of his weariness and injuries.
It didn’t take much time to drive to his apartment. Apparently most of Gotham’s citizens decided to stay in, probably after seeing the chase on the news. Jim couldn’t blame them; even being used to the sight of the Tumbler driving on the rooftops on your daily news show didn’t prepare you for tonight’s madness.
His locks has, unsurprisingly, been picked. Jim wondered briefly if maybe someone needed to explain to Bruce what keys were and how to properly use them. Maybe he forgot, after one too many bumps to the head. Or after his time in the Chinese prison.
“You just like to break in, don’t you?” he asked, starting to take his coat as he walked into his living room. Bruce had discarded the Kevlar suit, and it piled up haphazardly on the couch, the cowl resting on the coffee table, next to a stack of old newspapers and Jim’s other glasses. It was just a tad surreal kind of domesticity, Jim supposed.
Bruce shrugged, rising to his feet. “It’s like a tradition,” he muttered, walking towards Jim purposefully. The room wasn’t big, it took just a few steps, but he was favouring his side visibly and hiding the pain. Spill from the bike indeed. Jim frowned.
“How are you. Honestly?”
“I’m pretty sure nothing is actually broken,” Bruce muttered, and it was as evasive as Jim expected it to be.
“Bruised ribs?” he asked, his fingers running down Bruce’s side, then up again, hiking up his shirt to take a closer look.
“Sprained ankle, slight concussion. Nothing to worry about,” Bruce muttered, leaning against Jim, his lips moving against Jim’s neck as his words formed.
“You have a strange definitions of things not worth worrying about.”
“You’re going to stand here and argue about it, or can we actually get to the bedroom?”
Jim snorted. “Sure. Because between your bruised ribs and concussion and me being likely to pull my stitches again this should be a hoot.”
Bruce laughed, the kiss aimed at Jim’s lips landing somewhere on his chin. “You know, we got to this point much sooner than I expected.”
“What point?” Jim inquired, following Bruce into the bedroom.
“Early evenings at home, complaining about pain and aches,” Bruce shrugged, busying himself with taking off his socks. His tone was light, but Jim had known Bruce for a while, in case anyone had forgotten, and the part where Bruce was avoiding eye contact spoke volumes.
“If you’re going for a proposal, you have to do better than that,” Jim told him dryly and sat down, grimacing just slightly at the pain that shot through his leg. And his shoulder. It really hadn’t been his week.
Bruce didn’t laugh at that, which meant that he was pretty serious about it, more than Jim had initially thought. This was a thing with Bruce; he mulled things over somewhere in the back of his mind, and it somehow produced unexpected results. This could have been brought on by any number of things, from Rachel’s engagement to Jim getting shot again. Which was really a habit he hadn’t intended to pick up and needed to shake soon.
“What if I was?” Bruce asked.
Jim shook his head slowly. “The state doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages,” he said matter-of-factly. “And even if it did, it’s the kind of publicity none of us needs now. Maybe when… well, and besides, it’s not like we need rings or whatnot. At this point, I don’t think you could get rid of me if you tried.”
He probably could, though, but that was because right now Bruce had all too much on his shoulders, and Jim would do pretty much anything to help him, including possibly breaking his own heart.
Bruce looked up. “Maybe when?” he asked, of course focusing on the one slip of the tongue. That was what he did.
“When the city no longer needs Batman,” Jim muttered. It was a nice thing to look forward to, even though it was unlikely to ever happen. “And when I retire. We could move into a little house with a porch, and I could have a rose garden,” he added whimsically.
“A rose garden,” Bruce repeated, smiling now. “You know, the Manor has a large garden, I’m sure Alfred would be delighted to lend you a shovel or whatnot.”
“Very considerate of him,” Jim agreed. “But the point you’re missing is having time to take care of said garden.”
“Here’s a thought,” Bruce muttered. “Take a day off once in a while. I’m sure you’ll be able to, now you’re running the show.”
Jim didn’t think so, he’s always been absolutely incapable of properly delegating duties. “I still think Garcia’s mad.”
“It’s the best decision he made since he took over the office,” Bruce said firmly. “And I’m not alone in this opinion. Had you seen the afternoon edition of Gotham Times?”
“No and I don’t think I want to. Feel free to burn it,” Jim muttered and moved to lie down, trying to find the way where it didn’t hurt. Bruce gave him a look, and then gently settled himself to fit around Jim’s body, his hand resting low on Jim’s stomach, fingers absently skimming the edge of Jim’s shirt.
“You know, I think you have a not-so-secret admirer in out Miss Vale,” Bruce muttered.
Jim rolled his eyes. “She takes a great enjoyment in driving me insane, that for sure,” he said and took in Bruce’s amused expression. “What?”
“It’s actually quite adorable, how clueless you are.”
“I’ll show you clueless,” Jim threatened, then sighed. “Well, I’ll show you clueless when I actually feel inclined to move. Remind me not to get shot again anytime soon.”
Bruce laughed, shaking his head, his breath tickling the side of Jim’s neck. “I’ll have Montoya write it up in your calendar.”
God, she would actually do that. In colour pen and with exclamation marks.
“You know, it would be much easier…” Jim started, just to be interrupted by his cellphone ringing. He had a momentary thought of ignoring it, just letting the call go to the voicemail and dealing with whatever it was tomorrow, but there were too many things going on, and this could be important. “Gordon,” he said, picking up, and Bruce was groaning into his neck.
“Jim,” Rachel said, her voice breaking even on that one syllable. “They took Harvey. I don’t know…”
Jim moved to stand up, Bruce reacting instinctively and getting to his feet in one smooth movement as well. “Are you okay?”
“Yes. Fine. I’m fine. They just…”
“Where are you?”
“Don’t move from there, stay in. Bruce will pick you up,” he said with a look at Bruce. “We’ll find him, Rachel.”
It seemed that the quiet part of the evening was over.