written by destinyawakened
“Surveillance footage checks out,” Gordon said to Stephens, who was walking into the meeting room with two cups of coffee in his hands. Gordon reached up and turned the television off. He pushed the eject button on the DVD player and took the disk out. He had watched at least twenty of these disks, all full of pointless footage. The last disk was the one with the break-in footage he was looking for. He wasn't sure why Arkham thought he needed a whole days worth of video.
“Guy with weird mask made of bandages and tan trench?” Stephens asked, handing Gordon one of the two cups of coffee. Gordon took the hot beverage, sipped on it, and smiled a little at the other man in thanks. He was beginning to think Stephens was the only detective he had left that he could trust. Well, at least with his coffee.
“Yes. He had a subtle approach though. As if he knew exactly what he was doing and where to go.” Gordon sat sideways on the edge of the conference table, facing Stephens.
“It's definitely an inside job. He had pass-codes to every system there. No one gets those codes without working there. So, either he's an employee there or is very, very friendly with someone who is,”Stephens stated, taking a sip of his own coffee, watching Gordon over the rim of his cup.
Gordon chewed at his lower lip as he thought for a moment. “Doesn't make sense, does it?” He tried to make it all fit together, but the question still lingered: why would someone let four criminals free and then walk away as if it was nothing? What was the purpose?
The other man shook his head. “No. But if it is an inside job, I think the best idea right now would be to get some statements from Arkham employees.”
“Didn't your team do that Sunday night?”
Stephens shrugged. “We took statements from those who witnessed it. I really think we need to investigate a little deeper into Arkham. Something smells fishy, and it ain't their cafeteria.”
Gordon was immediately reminded of the fear toxin fiasco with Doctor Crane a few years back – how he used it on his Arkham inmate patients and then on the rest of Gotham. No, they didn't want another one of those incidents to happen. “Alright. Take a couple officers with you. I want a full report in the morning.”
The detective nodded, throwing out his plastic cup, now drained of coffee. He turned around as he was leaving, walking backwards out of the conference hall; “Don't forget to finish the paperwork for the Nygma case. Mayor called earlier and said he's been waiting over two weeks for the full report.”
Gordon waved him off. “I didn't forget,” he said. It was a lie, though; he had forgotten. In the in the current days' mess, with everything involving Batman – Bruce – he'd forgotten all about the report. Well, he would definitely be busy the next day, finishing that and all his other paperwork. All work and no play, he thought, makes for a very, very long day. And as much as he didn't want do the work, he knew it was his sole duty and priority; he'd made a promise to Gotham, and he had to keep it, no matter the job he was given. Oh, the pains he went through for his city.
Another day passed where Gordon didn't leave his desk except to use the bathroom and pass out for an hour or two on the couch in the officers' lounge. It had now been two days since Gordon had seen Batman; two days since he'd heard from Bruce. It was Wednesday now, the day they usually held their weekly meetings out on the roof of MCU – something they had started doing over a year ago when Gordon was forced to smash the floodlight. It was a way they could keep in contact without anyone becoming suspicious. He hoped Batman didn't forget tonight. He needed to be able to talk to him about the case, to get his opinions. To know he was alright. Gordon found himself caring more about the last part. He couldn't help but be worried; it was very unlike Batman not to keep in contact with him when such a huge case was present. Gordon almost felt he was being avoided, shunned. Maybe he was imagining it; maybe he wasn't.
The sun was setting behind the skyscrapers of Gotham, the last bit of orange in the sky fading to a dark gray, lit with the lights of the city below. Gordon folded his arms around himself – against the winter chill that was settling in; he could tell the season was going to be long and rough. He glanced at the watch on his wrist, which showed just a little before seven-thirty. Batman would be there any minute. Hopefully. Maybe. No, no... he would be there. He was always there, maybe not on time, but he always showed.
And just when the worry started to set in, a tap on his shoulder sent him spinning on his heels, facing the masked vigilante. “Goddammit,” he muttered, clutching his chest with one hand. No matter how many times Batman sneaked up on him, he was sure he would never get used to it. He puffed a few deep breaths to slow his heart rate back down. Batman had a gloved hand on his shoulder, and Gordon relaxed at the touch, letting his posture slacken a little.
“I don't have a lot of time,” Batman growled. It sounded different somehow, almost weak. Gordon searched the man's eyes, expecting to see the cold, hard expression of Batman glaring at him from behind the cowl; but instead he got the sad, tired eyes of Bruce Wayne. Very tired, Gordon noted. He didn't need to see the man without the mask to know he was exhausted. After two years, he could tell a lot of things about him without so many words being exchanged between them. Well, a lot of things except an obvious secret identity (but that was because Gordon was too stubborn to notice).
“You don't look so good,” Gordon stated, as his eyes never left Batman's. He wasn't sure what it was, but he was sure something wasn't quite right with the dark knight. There was definitely a distance in his stature. “What's going on?” It wasn't a question, it was a demand. He had let Bruce --Batman-- keep him in the dark about this long enough.
Batman bowed his head and let out a heavy sigh, his breath misting out of his mouth; “I'm a mess, Jim.” He stepped a few paces back from Gordon, shaking his head. “I haven't slept in days.”
Well, it wasn't what he was looking for, but it was a start. Gordon nodded an understanding and tried to reach out for the other man, but Batman stepped back a little further, just out of his reach. Gordon dropped his hands to his sides in defeat. Why so distant? he wondered. “You aren't invincible, Bruce.”
There was a sigh, and Batman flexed his gloved fingers in what Gordon guessed was annoyance; “I haven't had time. The Joker's been all over me since Monday.” He paused, spreading his hands out in front of him. “He doesn't just follow Batman. He follows Bruce. He knows.”
Gordon wrinkled his eyebrows. “What do you mean 'he knows'?” He knew what Batman meant, but he found it hard to believe that Bruce would let his guard down enough for the Joker to figure it out.
"He knows. He knows who I am. Every turn, he's there. During the day he's in disguise. It's one big game to him.” Batman took a step closer to Gordon and lowered his voice into a disheartening, painfully rough growl. “He's working with someone.”
“Joker doesn't work for other people.” Gordon stated. The thought was unfathomable, but a part of him could believe it. Give the clown what he wanted and he'd probably do anything. And it was already pretty obvious that the Joker loved tormenting Batman. Maybe...
“He has to be.” It was a whisper, a sound unfamiliar coming from Batman's lips. “He's keeping a low profile, and that's not like him.”
Gordon knew Batman had a point. The Joker wasn't one for sitting around when there were bigger games to play, and Gotham was an awfully big playground. “Do you think he's working with the man responsible for breaking him out of Arkham?”
The only response Gordon received was a slight nod. There was a moment of silence between them, and he wasn't sure what the other man was thinking. “You need to get some rest. You aren't doing this city any good being out in the state you're in.”
“I can't rest. Not until Joker's back behind bars in Arkham,” Batman replied, his gaze steady and his jaw locked. Gordon knew the look all too well; there was no use in arguing. He sighed and brought his hands to his hips, shrugging defeat. Someday Batman might actually listen to him. But then again, when did Gordon ever take his own advice?
A clank from the side of the building brought Gordon's attention over to the ledge. Batman was there first, looking down over the edge, fists balled at his sides. Gordon walked up beside him, but was pushed back by a gloved hand. “Stop,” he whispered harshly. “He found me again. Last thing I need is another reason for him to link you to me.” There was a whisper of a curse under his breath, and he leaped to the ledge, ready to jump.
“Wait! If he's here I can get some of my officers -” But Gordon was too late, and Batman was already gone, disappearing into the dark pit of shadows below them.Gordon rushed down the stairs that lead back down to the first level of MCU, jumping down the last five steps, rounding the corner to the back door that lead to the streets behind the building. He pushed the door open, grabbing his gun from the shoulder holster sitting under his left arm. He heard hysterical laughter resounding through the empty alley.
He pushed his back up against the wall, moving as carefully as possible to keep his foot-steps silent. Slowly he stuck his head around the corner, seeing the hideous painted face of the Joker, who was engaged in an all-out brawl with Batman. Gordon could tell the vigilante was not as his best – the Joker was landing quite a few punches and even managing a couple stabs with his knife between the armored plates on the Batsuit. Gordon was impressed when Batman kept going, even with obviously painful injuries.
The Joker was in sight now. Batman had noticed Gordon and left a clear shot for him to disable the Joker. Gun still in hand, he aimed and pulled the trigger. But his shot was thrown off by a well-placed smack to his face that knocked his glasses off. He bent to the ground and frantically groped for his glasses. A soft crunch beside him brought his hazy eyes up to a black and red blob that somewhat resembled a female form. He tried to aim his gun but had it smacked from his hands before he had a chance to gain a better hold.
“Well, well, well...if it ain't the Commish,” the female called, tauntingly. Gordon found himself up close and personal with the nozzle of a spray can. The girl leaned in close and Gordon could see a wide, painted, black smirk spread across her lips and cheeks. Her blue eyes sparkled against the black cloud of makeup surrounding the hollows of her eyes. “Couldn't stay out of it, could ya, Jimmy?”
Gordon reached out to grab the girl's wrist and knock the can from her hand, but she had already pushed down the nozzle. A spray of something that smelled of gasoline and insecticide washed over his face. He immediately started to cough and convulse. He grabbed his chest, trying to catch his breath. Within seconds his vision blurred, and he fell against the wall as his limbs went numb. He could hear the giggling of the girl and saw her booted feet as she walked past him. He thought about grabbing at her but found himself paralyzed and unable to move. He closed his eyes, nauseated.
He vaguely remembered hearing Batman yell out his name in panic. He heard the loud crack of fist meeting jaw and hoped it was the Joker face being pummeled.
He managed a groan and his breathing slowed. And he heard a set of footsteps approach him from behind. His hearing started to fade and Gordon realized he was falling into a black pit of unconsciousness.
Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.
Gordon felt his head pulsing to the soft ticking of a clock. He wasn't sure where it was coming from, but if he had to guess, it was right next to his head. Either that or he had the worst hangover of his life, but he couldn't remember drinking. What had he been doing? Oh, that's right: Batman, Joker, wannabe female Joker... it was all coming back. But where was he now? He tried to open his eyes, a bright light above him blinding him into squinting. When he tried to shield his eyes with his hands, he found they were tied back behind a chair. He attempted his legs, but those, too, were tied to the chair. Wherever he was, it was cold, and he didn't have his jacket on anymore. He was left in his thin dress shirt and pants. Was he outside? Sure felt cold enough to be outside.
He allowed himself to open his eyes again, adjusting to the light. He was in what he assumed was a warehouse; it was dank, damp, and down-right cold. His eyes adjusted to the light, but without his glasses it was almost useless. He could, however, see the unmistakable outlines of hundreds of oil drums. He turned his head to the left and saw the red digital numbers of a timer, counting down with less than two hours left on it. He could only assume the timer was connected to the barrels. The situation was all too familiar, except the last time he had been on other side – trying to save the person who had been in his place.
Desperation started to sink into the pit of his stomach, as he realized that he could very well meet his end the same way Rachel Dawes had a year ago. Thoughts of his children, of never seeing or talking to them again bounced around in his head. This was not the way he intended to end his career, or his life for that matter. He found himself placing all his hope into Batman, hoping he had some clue; hoped that he would come and save him, the way he had done for every other dire situation in the past two years. But that was a needy and selfish feeling, and Gordon suddenly loathed himself for even having thought it. He didn't even know if Batman was alive. Someone had to have put Gordon in this warehouse, and it was most likely the Joker and his wannabe sidekick. That left Gordon fearing that Batman had taken a fall. Was he wounded? Was he dead? Dread seeped into his blood, and he growled in anger. Somehow he would find a way out of this. He was resourceful, and he had been in situations that were – well, not quite similar – before.
Footsteps from somewhere behind him pulled him out of his thoughts. A hand touched his shoulder and Gordon felt his body shiver as he craned his neck to look behind him, to no avail. The hand squeezed his shoulder and slipped off. A man walked past him, tan trench-coat, bandages wrapped around his head and face, covering everything but the nostrils and the eyes. The man stopped two feet away from Gordon, hands in his pockets, the light from above shining around him and creating a menacing silhouette.
“I was really hoping you were like the rest of your useless police squad,” the man mumbled from under the bandages. He sounded a little muffled, but Gordon understood him perfectly. “Too bad.”
“Who are you?” Gordon questioned, more curious than angry. There was no need for anger; it wasn't going to get him anywhere.
The man laughed. “I really thought you and Batman would have figured that out by now. By the way Bruce stared me down the other day, I would have thought for sure he'd figured it out.” Gordon let the surprise slip into his expression. Bruce had been right. If the Joker knew who Batman really was, then so did the man he was working with. And he didn't have to guess; the man straight-up admitted it. “Don't look so surprised, Gordon. Not everyone in this city's oblivious.”
“Where is he?” Gordon asked; he let his expression harden, determined not to give this man any more pleasure off his emotions.
“I imagine he's out looking for you.” The man started to pull at the bandages on his face, slowly unraveling them as he spoke; “After he took care of the Joker and his bitch, he went looking for you. Too bad you weren't there.” Gordon could tell the man was smiling behind the bandages; the amusement was in his voice.
Gordon watched the intricate process of removing the bandages, hypnotized by the pile of white falling to the floor at the man's feet. Gordon watched as the last of the white cloth dropped to the floor, bringing his eyes to meet the other man's. Before him, the red-haired Doctor Elliot stood, a gun in one hand – fixed on Gordon – and a smirk on his face that suggested he was reveling in Gordon's sudden surprise. Except Gordon wasn't as surprised as he thought he would be. Somehow, he had had the feeling it was Thomas Elliot all along. The clues had all been there in front of him, and he refused to see them.
“Why?” Gordon asked, his eyes narrowed on the man, a sincere hatred building in his gut.
“Why Bruce? Why set free known, insane criminals? Why you, Commissioner? Which is it? We have time for all three if you like.” The man let out a laugh that caught Gordon's ear, and he cringed. He didn't say anything to the man, expecting him to know the answer already. Elliot nodded.
“Why Bruce? Why... why not? His parents died and he got everything. My father died and I was left with my mother, attached to her hip until the day she died. Why did Bruce get everything I wanted? He liked his parents. I loathed mine. It should have been the other way around. My parents should have been gunned down. I should have inherited my father's money. I should have gotten to travel the world without supervision!” There was a rage building in the man, but he tried hard to keep his calm. Elliot was jealous of Bruce. That much was very, very obvious.
Elliot seemed distracted and then looked back at Gordon again, fierce eyes bearing into him. “See, I've been planning this for a while, Gordon. This was planned long before Bruce Wayne decided to become Batman. But Batman just added to the fun. Especially after I met the Joker a little over two years ago. Oh, he had ideas, great big ideas that worked out perfectly with everything I had ever wanted to do to Wayne. To break him emotionally. Torment him physically. Kill him completely. He's so undeserving of everything he has.”
Elliot paused as if considering his next words carefully. “I'm sure you knew Rachel Dawes? Bruce's little girlfriend? Her death was inevitable. Planned years ago. It just worked out so perfectly with Dent's demise. Even better.” The man laughed again – evil, cynical and gut wrenching.
Gordon felt his heart sink further into his stomach, the beat quickening as he started to realize the seriousness of the situation and of everything that had happened in the last year. Everything that broke the playboy down and made him lose hope was because of a man Bruce once thought of as a friend; a friend who wanted him dead, but not before toying with his emotions and torturing him. He shook his head, but kept his expression solid.
“Ah, yes. And now, on the anniversary of Rachel's death, just when Bruce thinks he can get over her finally, I show up and break-out Gotham City's most hated and loathed criminals. And why? Torment. Keep Batman and Bruce Wayne on their toes. Mentally and physically falling apart, just waiting for me to swoop in and finish it. And that, my dear Commissioner, is where you come into play.”