stop. look. listen.

What Blurs and What Is Clear.

Renee Montoya has met Batman only twice, and each time it was in the comforting presence of Jim Gordon. Of course, in any case, if one subscribed to the notion that Batman was a psychotic killer, even the presence of the police commissioner wouldn't help much, but she felt better for it anyway.

The first of these times was not long after the hunt started, and every cop in the city was looking into the shadows, ready to shoot given the slightest opportunity. Two streets away from the crime scene, she hadn't yet figured out whether Gordon allowed her to follow him on purpose, but at the time they've all been almost too protective of the commissioner, the Bat targeting his family and the death of commissioner Loeb still fresh in their memory.

Something swooped from above, dark and shapeless, and she had her gun out before her mind could kick start itself.

"Detective," Gordon said warningly, reaching out and lowering her hand gently, just the slight tension in his voice but no fear or worry that she expected to find there. His back was to the newcomer, trustingly, and the Bat hadn't moved at all, gaze steady and assessing. She considered for the first time that maybe there was some truth in Stephens' muttering that something wasn't right with all that hunt on Batman thing, that Jim wasn't sufficiently angry when he took the axe to the sign. But Stephens was always coming up with theories, and usually she just dismissed them.

"Same MO," Batman said, as if she hadn't pointed a gun at him, as if she wasn't even there. Or maybe as if she was invited to the conversation, which was even more surreal. "Have you got the letter about it?"

Gordon nodded. "Same as the others. Damn riddles and games. I'm tired of games," he added wryly, his tone surprisingly light. He dug into his jacket's inner pocket, fishing out an evidence bag with an envelope inside, made two steps into the shadows.

Montoya tensed, fingers wrapped around the gun itching closer to the trigger even though she hadn't raised the piece yet. The Bat reached out, slowly, as if not to spook Gordon, but it was more for her benefit than anyone else's, as commish was completely relaxed now, placing the evidence in the vigilante's hand. She almost protested at that, it didn't seem right, but she bit her tongue. If she trusted anyone, she trusted Jim Gordon, and maybe that was why she was allowed to be here, to witness this.

"I need it back on my desk in about two hours," Gordon said with a slight nod of his head as the envelope disappeared somewhere in the shadowed planes of Batman's suit.

"Of course. I'll let you know what I find out," the Bat said, taking one step back, half disappearing in the shadows but still visible if you looked really hard. "Detective," he added, the slightest gesture in Montoya's direction, and her jaw dropped just a little. Before she could find the words to respond, he was gone completely, melting into the darkness seamlessly.

"I hate when he does that," Gordon said, but there was no annoyance behind the words, she could swear there was fondness instead.

"Why am I here?" she asked, and he spun on his heel to look at her.

"Official policy is to arrest Batman on sight," he told her in a well practiced, official tone. He was, quite possibly, one of the worst liars she had ever seen, she had no idea how he managed to have everyone buying into the story of Batman killing all those people. Her included. It was downright embarrassing.

"But?" she prompted, placing her gun back in her holster. He smiled, as is she had passed some sort of a test, with pleasure and pride, and she couldn't help but smile back.

"People need to know. I can't be the only one, in case..." he shrugged, dismissing the grim realities she was well aware of. "Come on, Detective, time to rejoin the others on the crime scene."

She hadn't asked anything more, not then, but she looked into the shadows with a little more hope now. She wasn't the only one, Stephens cornered her a week later, in the rec room, asking if she knew.

"If I know what?" she asked, putting on a good show of surprised innocence, but fooling Gerry was always more difficult than fooling anyone else at the precinct, he had a fully functional bullshit detector. Turned out that Stephens got a similar bat introduction, and so had Bullock. She couldn't help but feel proud that she was one of those few whom Gordon trusted with this knowledge. She had no idea what was the purpose, really, but it still made her feel good.

Second time she met the Bat was just a few months ago, a little less officially.

The DNA results had finally came in, and Gordon requested to be notified the second they did, and she rushed to his office with the printouts, disregarding knocking as a time consuming process.

Upon seeing the Batman, she froze in the doorway, startled, holding up the files defensively. Gordon rolled his eyes at her, told her to shut the door and pick up her jaw from the floor, and she could have sworn she heard Batman snort at that. Either that, or sleep deprivation after slaving over this case for the last week had finally caught up with her. Next thing, she'll be seeing spiders. Bats were preferable, if you asked her.

"Detective," he said politely, and she almost followed Gordon in eyerolling. Was that the only word he knew?

"What is it, Montoya?" Gordon asked, and she stepped forward, making her way to the desk, pointedly ignoring the Bat. On one hand, it wasn't that difficult as he seemed to mesh with the background. On the other hand, Batman, so there was absolutely no way she could feel comfortable and relaxed. As Gordon seemed to be. Uncanny.

"The results are back, sir," she said smartly, handing them over, refusing to turn her head no matter how curious she was. Batman stood completely still while Gordon looked at the results and grimaced, taking off his glasses and pinching the bridge of his nose, disappointed.

"Thank you, Detective," he told her flatly, and she nodded, forcing a smile. He pushed his glasses back on, and gave her a searching look. "Hasn't your shift ended half an hour ago? Go home, Montoya, get some rest."

Concern is all nice and fine, she thought, and it was actually quite heartwarming coming from Gordon, but it was also a case of pot calling kettle black. "When did your shift end, sir?" she asked pointedly, and flashed him an unapologetic grin before she hightailed it from there under his glare.

"She's got a point, Jim," a rasp followed her out, low and concerned, and she hadn't caught commish's response, doors clicking shut behind her, but she felt a little bit better, and not only because Batman apparently agreed with her (wait till she tells Stephens), but that someone else was looking out for the commissioner.

But that was a few months ago, and it hadn't done a lot of good, from where she was standing.

And where she was standing, at the very moment, was on the roof of the MCU building, while Bullock wrestled with the stylized bat-shape, trying to fix it into the repaired light.

"Just stick it on," Stephens muttered impatiently. "Doesn't have to be perfect. The first one was a mob boss, for god's sake."

Renee would have smiled at that, normally, but this wasn't a good moment to be cheerful. They had a job to do, and it was something that could easily have them not only fired but possibly arrested. Gordon wouldn't let that happen, of course, but Gordon was still in the hospital, and the doctors didn't sound very optimistic.

"You think he'll show up?" she asked, wrapping her coat tighter around herself, shivering from the cold winter air.

"Last time he didn't," Gerry pointed out, as Bullock flipped the switch, letting the light shine. Last time, of course, Gordon was dead, or, well, presumed to be. It didn't seem like a good tradition to continue, but none of them had any better ideas.

"Done," Bullock announced, stepping away from the light. "For the record, if we get in trouble for this, I'm saying you two used force to make me do this."

"Especially Renee. Everyone will believe you, Harvey," Stephens smirked, and Renee turned to give him a look.

"Please. I so could kick his ass without even..." she paused, because the shadows by the fire exit seemed to be moving.

"Without even what?" Bullock prompted, then frowned and followed her gaze, turning around. It was slightly amusing to see him startle. "You know, I should have bet on him showing up," he told Stephens, not even bothering to lower his voice. Batman waited semi-patiently, although he didn't seem amused at all.

"You better turn that off," he said, indicating the light, and Renee wordlessly flipped it off. "Detectives," he added, just the slightest rise in his growl indicating it was a question.

Montoya felt Stephens giving her a slight push and almost rolled her eyes at him. Bullock waited silently, squinting at her. Wusses, both of them.

"We wanted..." she started and stopped, her voice shaking just a little. Being afraid or nervous was slightly stupid. Sure, the bat costume was supposed to be scary or whatnot, but he was also supposed to be their ally. If they believed the commissioner. Which they did. Of course, officially, commish had an entire team assembled to hunt the Bat for a spree of murders and for taking his family hostage, but... Not helping.

"I think you know that..." Stephens said, obviously trying to help, but his words disappeared into a shrug almost as fast as Montoya's had.

"I'm working on it," Batman offered finally, an impatient growl of a voice as he glanced away from them, towards the fixed light. He looked almost wistful, as much as you could tell under the mask, and through the shadows surrounding it. Well, fine, you couldn't tell very well, but Montoya considered herself damn good at reading people, and there was a wistful air around him, so there.

"How do you know what we wanted to talk about?" Bullock asked slowly.

There was a long moment before the Bat answered, long enough that Montoya thought he wasn't going to. "You're Gordon's people," was all he said, as if it was an answer.

And it probably was, too, succinct and true. They needed him because commish wasn't here, and they trusted him because Gordon did. But there was more, plain in Batman's voice, even under the gravely tones. He trusted them too, and only because Gordon did.

Everyone knew that commissioner worked closely with the bat before and during Joker's manic spree, and all three of them knew that this continued after. But only now did Montoya wonder how deep the trust went, how well they really knew each other. She briefly entertained the thought that Gordon actually knew the man behind the mask, but that was bordering on impossible. And yet... And yet, just as she could sense the wistfulness, she could see the worry and anxiety. And to come to a meeting that could easily be a trap, to the roof of the police building, that wasn't being worried about an ally, that was concern for a friend.

"You'll let us know, right?" she asked, looking up at the Bat. "If you find out what's..." she didn't finish that one, reluctant to say what they've been afraid of, that the poison could actually kill commish.

"When I find out," the Bat agreed, quiet and intense, and she must have blinked or something, because one moment she could see it and the next he was gone.

"It's creepy when he does that," Stephens muttered, rubbing his hands nervously, trying to warm them up.

"Commish hates it," Montoya told them, a small smile playing on her lips. They shared a silent understanding before they moved to get back inside, feeling just that little bit better but still not at peace.

Bruce watched Stephens, Bullock and Montoya get back into the precinct, Bullock the last one in, casting a suspicious glance over his shoulder, as if daring Batman to show himself if he still was there in the shadows. Harvey seemed most surprised at Batman actually showing up, and even Bruce could admit that coming to a meeting on top of the police building while the hunt was still on was quite foolish, but he simply couldn't not.

Jim Gordon, fighting for his life in the hospital, there was no way Bruce wasn't going to do everything he could. Hopefully, stubborn as he was, Gordon would pull through.

The stubbornness had been more of a surprise that it should have been, given everything. It started about three weeks into the whole charade. Bruce was perfectly aware that it didn't sit well with Gordon, the man said as much at the very beginning, but had been too exhausted and terrified to protest, and then it was too late, the great lie had been told and all the small lies followed.

It didn't stop Gordon from being extremely difficult about it.

Just three weeks after Dent's funeral, he got Stephens in on the secret. Then Bullock, and then Montoya. Every damn time, Bruce had a choice, to back off, to not arrive for the meeting, to step back into the shadows. Every damn time he didn't.

"They should know," Jim argued, days before. "Someone should know, someone who isn't me. I can't be the city's only connection to you," he added quietly, not looking up, and Bruce understood what he wasn't saying. I can't be your only connection to the city.

Bruce avoided his gaze, which was easy under the mask, and yet really difficult. Jim seemed to interpret the silence as something different than it was, his face betraying the worry.

"You don't trust them?" he asked, lines on his forehead deepening. He sounded like he desperately wanted Batman to tell him otherwise, to assure him that this time he hadn't made any mistakes, that this time he could believe in his own people.

But what hit Bruce the most was how much Jim seemed to trust Batman. Gordon had known Stephens for well over ten years, Bullock for almost as long, he handpicked Montoya for the team, they were his best people. And yet he was willing to take the word of a masked vigilante, depend on his opinion completely if Batman expressed any distrust. It hurt almost as much as it helped.

"Only them," he said, giving in. "No one else."

He wasn't convinced to the logic of the idea, but disappointing Jim wasn't something he wanted to do if he could help it; he already disappointed too many of the people he cared about. And he was forced to admit that he did care about Jim Gordon on the day of his presumed death and in the dark hours of the night that followed, before he decided to go to that press conference and turn himself in.

It was almost funny, the way things went, funny if you had an overdeveloped sense of irony. He really should have seen that coming. But of course his experience in any sort of relationships was, well, practically nonexistent, so he had missed all the warning signs and was now utterly lost and just a tad confused, mostly at how easy it was to...

The detectives were gone for a good few minutes now, and yet he still hadn't moved, still watching the rooftop. It had been a long while since the last time he appeared there, when he thought about it he was almost sure the last time it was Harvey Dent who turned on the light, not Gordon. It bothered Bruce more than it should, and it shouldn't bother him at all.

The smart thing to do was to get back to the cave and wait for Lucius to come up with the antidote, if anyone could manufacture it, it was Fox. Montoya and the rest counted on exactly that, well, not on Lucius, but on Batman's associates, the same ones who provided the antidote for the fear toxin.

Of course, as history showed, the smart thing was very rarely what Bruce Wayne did.

Via the scenic route - mostly rooftops - it took mere seven minutes to get to the hospital. Another two were spent outside the window, waiting for the nurse to leave the room. Sneaking through the windows maybe isn't the most dignified thing to do, but he had done it before, including Gordon's office. And he used to be better at it too, or maybe Gordon had gotten more skilled at telling when he appeared, because he shifted on his bed restlessly, fortunately not disconnecting any of the machinery he's been hooked up to.

The light from the doorway was dimmed, shifting shadow indicating someone waiting outside. Security detail, probably Stephens' doing. Remarking that it was too little, too late would be uncharitable, especially given Gordon's thoughts on having any kind of security assigned to him, but Bruce couldn't help the slightest resentment. Ivy's plans had been almost too transparent, they should have been able to prevent this. He should have been able to prevent this.

Gordon moved again, muttering something under his breath. The fever wasn't lessening, from the reports he got it was apparent that the only thing the doctors could do was to make it bearable for the time being.

Bruce stepped forward quietly, trying not to wake up Jim, or alert the guard outside. Jim's breathing was harsh and shallow, either from the drug or the dream he was having, bordering just on the side of a nightmare, judging from the way he was trying to turn, kept in place by the security restraints. No one was taking any chances, they had three victims of the poison already in the morgue, and one of them had simply threw himself out of the window in the drug induced haze.

He reached out with his gloveless hand, fingers resting gently on Jim's arm. "It's okay," he muttered, without bothering to put on the rasp. "It's going to be okay." It didn't sound any more convincing out loud than it had in his head, but he felt minutely better for saying it.

Jim's breathing calmed a little, as if the touch or the reassurance served to keep him anchored in his dream, his fists unclenched slowly, some of the tension easing out. Bruce watched, spellbound, his own pulse speeding rapidly.

He had never really asked for a proof of trust from Gordon, even though he had gotten quite a few, but this seemed like an ultimate admission, unconscious and unguarded. He wished he could do more, but this wasn't the time, and it definitely wasn't the place, there were other ways in which he could help.

The guard outside shifted, probably standing up, and Bruce moved away, slipping into the shadows. The door opened, letting in the light from the hallway and the distant sounds of a hospital at night.

"You okay there, Commish?" the guard asked, in the light tones of someone not expecting an answer. He stepped closer, checking on Gordon, giving the room a quick assessing look. His stance hinted at wariness and protectiveness, it was the same one Montoya sported on the roof, the same one all the young detectives and officers took around Gordon these days. The job brought on the death threats without fail, but this was less about protecting the commissioner and more about the blatant hero worship Jim seemed to obliviously inspire.

And it really shouldn't annoy Bruce as much as it did.

Getting any work done was bordering on impossible in the last few days. Montoya's day had been punctuated by phonecalls with well-meant questions, rookies stopping by her desk with tentative inquiries, and girls from the HR leaving get well cards with her, to be delivered to the hospital later. Even some of the detectives happened upon her during her lunch break, dropping heavy hints about the rooftop and resources, which just meant that you really couldn't keep a secret in the precinct, and especially not if one of the people in on the secret was James Gordon, whose complete inability to keep a poker face was practically legendary.

What she really wanted to know, however, was why all those questions were directed at her. Bullock and Stephens, equally guilty of the conspiracy and just as informed on Gordon's condition - if anyone, Stephens was getting the updates from the doctors every hour - were somehow free of all that.

She glanced over to Stephens' cubicle; he was apparently hard at work, his keyboard just about to burst up in flames from the speed of his typing. Lying blatantly, that liar, there was no way in hell he could be producing actual words with that speed. Bullock was nowhere to be seen, but his desk was adorned with towers of files. Renee stood up and peered over them, and of course, Harvey was doing a crossword in the paper, and even had the guts to offer her a small smile.

"Kill, seven letters?" he asked her, and she shook her head.

"Don't tempt me," she warned him and pushed some of the files aside, perching herself up on his desk. She could have pointed out that doing crossword didn't fall exactly into his job description, but her own attention span was shot to hell today, and it wasn't even because of the constant interruptions, more because she kept watching the clock to see if she could ask Stephens about the news without sounding like a bored child on a road trip.

And the day had been strangely quiet, too. It always was, before and after the worst that could happen. And in Gotham, the worst that could happen usually got pretty damn bad and pretty damn strange. But it was calm for now, and usually, everyone would be using this time to catch up on paperwork, as Harvey was pretending to be doing, but no one really had a mind to do this today. With all that worry and distraction, they were quite lucky the day had been slow, at least until the afternoon.

Because in the afternoon, the commotion started, with the arrival of Bruce Wayne, doing his monthly run of ticket paying a few days earlier. Montoya rolled her eyes, first at the inevitable flock of most of the administrative department spilling into their area, and then at herself, when she caught herself shifting in her seat, taking a more flattering position. Stephens, damn him, noticed too, over the forms he had been signing for the courier from the city hall, and sent an annoying smirk her way.

Bullock tried to hightail it from the office, but Wayne managed to pay his tickets in record time, and appeared back very quickly, just as Harvey was out of his castle of manilla folders.

"Ah, my good friend detective Bullock," Wayne announced happily, making his way pass Montoya to harass Harvey. Bullock had pulled him over for reckless driving once, and had been paying for it ever since. Most of the time, he looked ready to punch Wayne out, but, well, it was Bruce Wayne. Who was known to somehow manage to rope Jim Gordon into attending charity benefits, so you know, Harvey Bullock didn't stand a chance. Montoya smiled happily and settled in to watch the show. As did the entire precinct, even the courier, and a guy Mayers was talking with about the robbery from three days ago, showing him the pictures of suspects.

Bullock muttered something that could be a 'Mr Wayne', but very well could be something more more uncharitable, and Wayne started to ask about something, when his phone perked up, and he snapped it open with a grimace, then launched into an entire tirade of being busy and important and not wanting to do something or other, already moving to walk out, much to Bullock's relief and everyone else's disappointment.

Montoya sighed. "There goes my only entertainment for the day," she offered sadly, and glanced at the clock. "Hey, Stephens, is it time to call already?" she asked, stepping towards his desk.

Stephens glanced at his watch, and shook his head. "We should..." he stopped, when Montoya raised her hand, picking up the curious little box from his desk. "What is it?" he asked, and she shrugged.

"Not a bomb, for sure," she muttered. "Too small. And I'd say there's a lot of people more likely to be targeted than you."

"I feel better already," he assured her, opening the box, shaking out two vials. "Is that..."

Montoya whistled. "Middle of the precinct, middle of the day? Say what you want, guy's impressive. We going?" she added, reaching for her car keys, tossing them up and catching them pointedly.

"With a distraction such as Wayne's visit that wasn't so hard," Bullock muttered as they made their way outside. "Although I bet he just paid the courier. I'd do that."

"We'll check later. Now, just get into the damn car," Stephens told him dryly, and Montoya started the ignition even before the door shut. She had to admit, the courier made sense, no one would pay any attention to the package. Of course, broad daylight there was no way Bat himself would have gone for the hospital, and the doctors wouldn't trust the anonymously delivered package, getting it to one of them was the only way. She briefly entertained the notion of the Bat doing it himself, under the guise of the courier, but the kid had been too scrawny, shorter than herself, and the suit of armor Bat sported could maybe make up for some body mass but not that much.

"We won't check," she said absently, watching the traffic, tempted to put on the siren. "Your desk is in the security camera's blind spot."

"What? How do you even know that?" Stephens asked, and she smiled lightly.

"Please. Eveyone knows that. The only places one can have sex in the office is your desk, or the commisioner's office," she said cheerfully, and then gave in and put on the siren, watching the cars part before her with some satisfaction.

Gerry choked on his own breath, while Bullock shook his head. "How... Nevermind. I really don't want to know."

"I certainly didn't want to know," Stephens announced with a wounded expression. He turned the box in his hands, growing more serious. "You think it will work?"

"It better," Harvey said quietly. "It better work, or..." he didn't finish, and the silence stretched until Montoya pulled over at the hospital parking.

"We really doing this?" she asked, glancing to her side at Gerry, then into the rearview mirror at Harvey, who shrugged.

"You mean, are we giving the commish an untested drug while he is already dying? Yeah, we apparently are."

Montoya didn't have a ready answer for that, and they kept the quiet tension going while Stephens talked to the doctor and convinced him to give his patient an unknown substance despite all the reservation. They sat and waited outside, after they relieved the guard. He didn't want to go, and instead offered to get them coffee, and even Bullock just nodded at the kid and told him to sit down and don't annoy anyone and he could stay, which was big for Harvey, who avoided dealing with younger officers like one avoided the plague.

Stephens tapped his foot against the chair's leg, driving her positively nuts, but she kept her mouth shut, biting her lip. This could be the most stupid thing they ever did, but she had to hope that Jim Gordon knew what he was doing, trusting the vigilante.

"He was there when Jim pulled that dying stunt," Stephens said absently, fingers nervously moving against the armrest. "When we went to tell Barbara, he was there on the fire escape, like he came to pay respects or something," it seemed that Renee wasn't the only one convincing herself it was the right thing to do.

"Do you trust him?" she asked quietly, not looking up, eyes tracing the pattern of cracks on the floor.

"Jim does," Gerry said, and she didn't bother to call him on the crappy answer, because this was exactly what she had been thinking, and from the nod Bullock gave, him too. She didn't dare to think that Gordon made mistakes, too.

One of the doctors came out of the commisioner's room, and all four of them stood up, the guard first on his feet, with Montoya jumping up a close second. "And?" she prompted.

"The fever is lessening. We're running tests, but there's room for cautious optimism," the doctor offered with a small smile, and Renee thought that the collective sigh of relief was almost deafening.

Cautious optimism, as it turned out, translated into hours of waiting for Gordon to wake up. They all wanted to be here when he did, but it was greatly counterproductive, so they settled the system through the time honored tradition of rock-paper-scissors. Stephens wasn't allowed to try, as he was the only one who actually had someone to get back home to, so Montoya and Bullock played for it ('two out of three', 'three out of five', 'shut up Harvey, before I kick you).

They told her to call if anything changed and reluctantly left, and she thought that this was the first time when she volunteered to wait at a hospital. She hated hospitals almost as much as Bullock did, and he was pretty much pouting when she kicked him out.

She dismissed the idea of waiting in the corridor like the guard had, and settled into the slightly more comfortable chair in Gordon's room. Which turned out to be a very good idea, since Gordon woke up three hours later, and a bad idea, because she almost slept right through it.

"Where the hell are my glasses," woke her up, along with Gordon trying to find them on the side table in the semi darkness of the room, knocking over the empty cup and swearing at it.

"Good to see you feeling better, sir," she muttered, aiming for wry and arriving at pretty damn happy.

"Montoya," he nodded at her with acknowledgment. "Seen my glasses?"

"Yes, sir," she said smartly, and waited a beat until she got the slightly annoyed questioning look. "The paramedics trampled over them while they were restraining you. I think the gurney ran over them, too," she added, grinning.

"Perfect," he muttered, leaning back against the pillows, as if the conversation had been exhausting. It probably was, Montoya thought, he still looked as if he was on the death's doors, but the annoyance was a good sign. "What did I miss?" he asked.

She shrugged. "Still no sign of Isley, we've searched the river, but I don't think we're that lucky, she'll be back." They always were. "Oh, and together with Bullock and Stephens we broke a few laws, conspired with a known criminal and gave you a drug acquired by shady means," she volunteered, figuring it was better to have it out in the open while Commish was still connected to the morphine drip or whatnot.

The drugs seemed to be working, because all she got was a nod. "Well done."

So, not fired. This was a good thing. She hesitated. "I'll go and call the others, tell them you woke up. Do you need anything? Should I..." she was going to say 'call anyone', but stopped herself just in time. The divorce was recent enough for everyone to awkwardly avoid the topic.

"I'm fine," he assured her, and only then did she noticed that his gaze, however unfocused, kept sliding towards the window, trying to make out the shapes of the shadows. She had to bite her lip to keep from laughing.

"Sure. I'll go and be... elsewhere now," she told him with a wide smile, and he pulled his eyes away from the window for long enough to send her a glare.

"I can fire you," he said, and she didn't laugh. Much. But mostly, she just grinned widely and made her escape before she did something really undignified and silly, like hugging her boss. Although it was a close call.


After the doors closed behind Renee, whose shoulders were shaking with a held back laughter, Jim shut his eyes for a longer moment. If a short conversation like this one was that exhausting, he really didn't want to know how close he came to dying. Thankfully, apparently they were able to manage without him, which was comforting, in a rather grim sort of way. And they worked with Batman, another thing he worried about, but it seemed it had all gone well.

"I told you they should know," he muttered to the empty room, and wasn't disappointed when the room turned out not to be that empty.

"You did."

Jim smirked at that, even though smirking made him feel woozy. But it was close to getting the Bat to admit that Jim had been right about something, so he felt he had the smirk privileges for now. "Does that mean we can start working on clearing your name?" he asked, not really expecting an answer; and he didn't get any. He rolled his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose, the blurriness was making him even more nauseous than he was already.

"Here," Batman pushed something into his hand, and Jim looked down confusedly, then put on the glasses he was given.

"Thank you," he said, smiling gently, and then realised with some surprise that the glasses felt familiar, and that in fact it had been his own spare pair, the one he kept in the drawer of the bedside table back home. "Did you break into my house to get my glasses?" he asked incredulously, and had a rare pleasure of seeing the Bat look downright uncomfortable and just slightly guilty.

"You should get better locks," was all he said however, standing still, as if he realised that once he stepped closer to the bed, melting seamlessly into the shadows was going to be problematic.

"I'll look into that," he agreed, not really intending to do so in the slightest. After all, anyone really wanting to break in could do so with any kind of security measures. And besides, it's not like he had anything really worth stealing there, and any attempts at his life were more likely to be carried out at the office, where he spent the majority of his time, and the precinct had much better security. There were some benefits to his workaholism.

He wasn't called on the bluff, but nonetheless, the Bat looked as if he wanted to say something. Jim was a little surprised he could tell; neither the stance nor what little was visible of the vigilante's face had changed, no tells or signs to see.

But nothing was voiced, the silence stretching between them, yet somehow escaping the uncomfortable. Jim's eyes were beginning to close, probably courtesy of whatever they had him on. There were things to say still, but he'd settle on the one, reaching out. The Bat was standing just a little too far away, but his hand moved automatically, letting Jim's fingers grasp his.

"Thank you," Jim said quietly, and for once he didn't get the same old answer, which was just as well, because he had promised himself to actually hit Batman if he tries that 'no thanks necessary' crap again, and right now he didn't think he could raise his hand much higher, less alone form a fist.

"You should rest," Batman said, or at least something along those lines, Jim wasn't quite sure, his eyes were closed already and he took off his glasses to haphazardly place them on the table.

He thought he could at least get some sleep his body apparently needed; he was pretty sure Montoya would be back in a while, with at least Gerry and Harvey in tow, and that trio wasn't conductive to getting any rest. He wouldn't mind it if the Bat stayed till then, but it wasn't exactly the smartest idea, so he didn't say anything.

He didn't hear when the man left, but then again, that was the point of that entire stealth shtick.

The office betting pool was predicting that Gordon was going to get back from his sick leave in three days after waking up, but he surprised all of them and waited for five. It still was a good two weeks less than the doctor ordered, but no one was deluding themselves that Gordon would listen, not even the good doc.

Montoya got in a good half an hour before her shift, and Gordon was already there, his office doors open and he himself going through mountains of late paperwork that piled up on his desk. She threw Stephens a questioning look and got a shrug in return, which means Jim had been there earlier than him, too. She shook her head and rolled her eyes and decided against saying anything, but couldn't help looking into the commissioner's office's direction every once in a while.

She wasn't alone in that, the entire precinct seemed to be glued to the sight of Gordon signing off on the reports, as if it was the most fascinating thing on the planet. People kept on knocking on the open doors, with some very important thing or other, adding to the pile of paperwork but leaving with a spring in their step.

Gordon realised after about three hours, and she was doing her share of staring at the moment, which granted her the full view of, first, confusion, and then the eyeroll and a barely contained long-suffering sigh, then mutter of something along the lines of 'get back to work'.

The good mood saw them through most of the week, even with the still futile search for Isley. They conspired and plotted to keep Gordon out of the field and away from the crime scenes, and had been mostly successful until Thursday, when he told Stephens that enough was enough and that he felt fine. They chose not to believe him, of course, and Montoya had been sent to make sure he didn't do anything stupid like, say, walking into a hostage situation while discarding his weapon as a sign of trust. Been known to happen.

That, however, got Montoya her second meeting with the Bat in a little over a week, which was unprecedented to say the least.

Gordon seemed to somehow know the moment when the Bat arrived, his head snapping up as they both were leaning against the alley's wall, his hand traveling to his neck, scratching absently as one does when he unconsciously feels someone eyes on him. It took her a long moment to make out the right shape in the shadows, and Gordon was already looking in that direction.

"Detective," Bat nodded at her, and she could swear he sounded slightly annoyed at her presence, and she really thought they were past that. Could make a girl feel wounded, honestly.

"Anything we missed?" Gordon asked, and it was Montoya's turn to look up sharply, she had no idea that the Bat was even on the scene, much less inside, but come to think of it, the entire thing went all too easily for there not to be any help from the vigilante. She wondered how many times she missed his presence before.

"There's a hidden compartment under the floor, you might want to look there," Batman said, the sentence ending a little too abruptly, the following silence just slightly uncomfortable. Once they got back to the station she was going to tell Stephens off for setting her with this. She could walk away now, but this would be even more awkward, so she just shifted a little against the wall, not looking at the Bat or at the Commish, watching the cracks in the opposite wall instead.

"Thank you," Gordon nodded, matter of fact, and for some reason, Batman smirked at that, as if it was some kind of an inside joke she didn't get. Which really boggled the mind, the mere thought of Batman and jokes in the same sentence.

"You should get back," Batman said finally, just a slight gesture of his head towards the entrance to the alley, and the squad cars still parked there. Gordon snorted, and Renee realised that it wasn't only about rejoining the rest of the task force, but a slight admonishment of Gordon even being in the field already. Which would get anyone she knew a glare, but now Gordon just sighed and shook his head, as if this was an all too old argument.

"I should," he nodded, and didn't move, waiting. She caught this only after a long moment when no one was saying anything, that the Bat was still there, and not gone into the night. Gordon himself seemed to be surprised as well, and she wasn't going to try and guess the emotions on Batman's face. More than before she considered casually walking away; it felt like she was trespassing on something here.

After a long while, the Bat nodded and moved to step away, and it was another moment before Gordon pushed himself away from the wall, looking to the side. "You know, it would be nice to have some way of contacting you. When I'm not dying, that is," he added as an afterthought, and as an apparently well aimed blow, because the Bat stopped and half-turned to face them. "Just a thought," Gordon shrugged.

"I'll think of something," Batman said before stepping into the shadows finally, and instantly disappearing. Montoya really didn't care for him doing that, but Gordon seemed to be amused.

"Come on, Montoya, you have a hidden compartment to discover," he told her, nodding, and she followed him back into the scene, biting her tongue before she said something uncalled for about direct lines and personal access.


The quiet and calm week ended on Friday, quite spectacularly, with the arrival of Bruce Wayne. That always seemed to disrupt the peace.

Bullock casted one look at the visitor and made himself scarce, muttering something about only being able to go through this once a week that Gordon didn't quite catch. Wayne however didn't even stop at his desk, making a beeline for the commissioner's office instead, much to everyone's amusement and Jim's dismay, because that usually meant an attempt to rope him into one more gala or some party or other, and frankly, Jim could use a break.

He pointedly closed the doors after inviting Wayne in, much to Montoya's theatrically disappointed groan, and turned to face his guest. "What can I do for you, Mr Wayne?" he asked, forcing himself to sound pleasant and not at all annoyed. He had that talk with the Mayor a few times too many.

Wayne didn't say anything for a moment, and that itself was strange, usually he launched himself into a long spiel the moment he arrived. Jim did a quick double-take at his visitor, something just seemed different, and at first he just assumed it was a new haircut or whatnot, something he wouldn't really notice but could tell that something changed, but he soon concluded that it was the first time he saw Bruce Wayne without any kind of wide grin plastered across his face, and it made a great difference.

"This," Wayne said slowly, as if coming to a decision, and with a poignancy that Jim didn't get, "is an easier way of communication."

He'd like to say that the understanding dawned, pieces of the puzzle falling into place, but in fact, he just stood there for a while, confused and just a little bit startled. "Excuse me?" he asked numbly, and Wayne nodded.

"Come on, Jim. Work it out."

It was the matter-of-fact and familiar tone that had Jim making a step forward even before his brain caught up. "Oh," he mutters, rather foolishly, his jaw still slack with surprise. "Certainly more convenient," he agreed, and shook his head, wondering if it was possible that the meds were still working and making him hallucinate.

Of course, the question remained, why would he hallucinate Bruce Wayne of all people implying that he was the Batman.

"I'm sorry," Bruce muttered, stepping forward, hand extended in comfort but not quite touching Jim's arm. "I know you didn't want that secret to keep."

He had never asked to know, that much was true, Jim thought, nodding. But he was glad to be trusted with this, to shoulder some of its weight. "Don't be," he said.

They were standing too close for the professional meeting they were supposed to be having, and probably closer than he ever was to Batman while none of them was injured or dying or doing his best to charge into a burning building. He might have been that close to Bruce Wayne before, as the billionaire had no regard for anyone's personal space, but it was different now.

"Why..." he started, and didn't finish, on account of still being rather shell shocked. He realised the question could be interpreted in at least a dozen ways, but apparently Bruce was as good at interpreting him as Batman was, and that particular phrasing was rather unfortunate but he'd have to deal with it.

"You were right," Wayne shrugged, a small smile tugging at his lips, not a Bruce Wayne smile at all. "Someone should know."

It wasn't exactly what he meant at the time, but he wasn't going to argue, not now. Not with Bruce looking at him as if he had all the answers to yet unspoken questions, his palm on Jim's arm warm even through the layers of clothing.

"Finally," he muttered pointedly, attempting a smug smile at being proved right, but he didn't quite manage, he could see that in Bruce's face, in Bruce's answering smile, open and tender. There were few ways to react to that, and Jim chose the only one that felt right and stepped forward, lips finding Bruce's.

"That's one of the ways to improve communication," Bruce agreed against his skin, smiling widely, his breath warm and shallow. "Should have thought of that."