Characters/Pairings (this chapter): Bruce/Jim, John Blake, Joe O’Hara, Brett Dover, Bane, Jonathan Crane
Genres: Angst, Challenge, Drama, Holiday, Mystery
Continuity: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Rating: (this chapter): G
Spoilers: For The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
General Summary: Gotham defiantly celebrates Halloween during the Occupation. Will the Bat come back to help them?
Chapter Summary: Jim learns about the Batman sightings.
Date Of Completion: August 24, 2011
Date Of Posting: October 14, 2012
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC and Warner Brothers do, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1230
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: Written for my 2012 DCU Fic/Art Halloween Challenge. Prompts: Gotham City, Houses Decorated For Halloween, Black, Ghosts/Spirits/Apparitions, Astral Projection, Bats, Orange-and-Black, Black Cat, Mists/Fog, Gloves/Gauntlets, Capes/Cloaks/Robes, Candy Corn, Masks, Costumes, Jack O’Lanterns, Skeleton, Witch, Masquerade Ball/Halloween Party, Apples, Pumpkin Muffins, Moon/Moonlight, Vampires and also for saavikam77’s 2012 DCU Free_For_All Autumn Challenge. Prompts: T12; P14: Haunted, T10; P23: Spectre, Special Prompt 6: Costumes/Masks.
All chapters can be found here.
To hear your voice,
Is what I yearn for.
My heart is broken.
Jim tossed and turned restlessly as he tried to sleep. The bed was comfortable enough. He’d regret leaving it when they had to move again, but he just couldn’t get to sleep. He sat up with a sigh. Where was the Bat? After years of not showing his face, or cowl, he had vanished again after reappearing for a brief time. Gotham needed him more than ever now.
There’s something wrong.
He drew his knees up and wrapped his arms around them, rocking slightly. The room was blurred, his glasses still on the nightstand.
And where’s Bruce Wayne? He comes out of seclusion after eight years…just like Batman.
Jim had entertained suspicions of Bruce as Gotham’s protector. He had fallen in love with Batman years ago, suspecting that Barbara had known. He rubbed his eyes, glad that she and the kids weren’t here.
The wind rattled the windowpanes and he lay back down, pulling up the blanket. He started to drift off to sleep when a voice whispered in his ear.
“Hmm?” He sat up, still half-asleep. “Is that you, John?”
The sound of the wind was his only answer. Yawning, he curled up under the covers, figuring he had dreamed someone calling his name.
The cold bite of the wind accentuated the October day. An orange windsock with black triangles for eyes and nose and a half-moon for the mouth fluttered in the breeze from a nearby porch. A black cat watched the activities in the street with yellow eyes, its tail swishing lazily.
John hunched his shoulders against the wind as he jammed his hands into his coat pockets. He had made the drop of the day to his partner down in the tunnels and was going to meet Jim for lunch, or what they could scrounge up. If they couldn’t put together something they would have to go without.
He patted his lean stomach. He was used to that. There had been very lean meals in the orphanage at times before the Wayne Foundation had stepped in.
John sighed. Bruce and the Bat were among the missing. He would never abandon Gotham.
Bruce, I hope you can make it back while there’s still a Gotham left.
The wind blew and the cat’s ears perked up. Dusk was beginning to fall over Gotham.
A heavy fog began to drift in from the ocean. John turned up his collar. It would make a good cover as he went back to the house.
The fog enveloped the neighborhood, obscuring the houses as John kept his eyes and ears open. The fog muffled sounds and John suddenly heard footsteps. He couldn’t quite figure out what direction they were coming from, another trick of the fog.
He increased his pace. He could handle himself but wasn’t keen on fighting anyone when he could barely see his hand in front of his face.
The footsteps echoed eerily in the fog. They sounded close but that could just be another trick of sound.
John unzipped his jacket. If he had to move fast, he wanted to be ready. He continued walking, the footsteps matching him almost stride-for-stride. The echo rattled his nerves but he remained calm, his fingers curled around the trigger of his gun hidden in his jacket pocket.
The spookiness was getting to him. He turned, ready to demand who was following him when a figure emerged from the fog. John’s eyes widened and he gasped, “Batman?”
The figure reached out his gauntleted hand, his face painfully thin and his armor torn. His tattered cape looked like a scarecrow’s, his eyes pleading with John.
“What is it? When did you get back? Where have you been?”
The fog rolled in, wisps curling over Batman’s shoulders and slowly swallowing him up. John tried to grab him but was too late.
There was utter silence, John straining to hear anything. He called Batman’s name again, this time softly. When he still received no response, he hurried to his meeting with Jim and the others.
“What do you mean, you saw the Batman?”
Joe’s hazel eyes pleaded with Jim. “Honest, Jim! Brett and I saw him.” He described the encounter in the alley.
Jim frowned. “Why didn’t he speak with you?”
“He tried, but no sound came out.”
Jim’s stomach tightened. “You mean he couldn’t speak?”
“Appeared he couldn’t. And he looked thin.” Brett nodded in agreement with his partner.
Jim paced the living room floor, clenching and unclenching his hand. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. The Batman was back but was struck mute?
What’s going on, Batman?
John slipped into the kitchen and hurried to the living room. “Commissioner, I just saw Batman!”
“What? You, too?” Joe asked.
“What do you mean, ‘you, too’?” John asked.
“I saw him last night.”
“Did he speak to you?” John tossed his keys onto the dining room table.
“No, he couldn’t.”
Jim’s hand remained clenched. “Was he mute with you, too?” he asked John.
“Yeah.” John looked worried. “He didn’t look well, Commissioner.”
“What do you mean?” Jim felt ill.
“He was…gaunt, like he’d lost a lot of weight. And…”
“What?” Jim snapped.
“He looked like he was in pain.”
If Jim had been holding a pencil, he would have snapped it in two. “Why didn’t he stay?”
John shrugged. “I dunno. He just vanished into the fog.”
There was silence in the room for a long moment, then Jim said. “We’ll have to keep our eyes open for him.”
What no one said was that it was all very strange on the eve of All Hallows.
Halloween dawned clear and cold, an undercurrent of excitement rolling through the city. The good people of Gotham sensed something important would happen tonight. Rumors were already spreading that the Batman had been sighted. Was it true, or just wishful thinking?
As dusk arrived and the stars began to come out, gatherings in the spirit of the holiday began to form in defiance of the laws against more than five people outside of a family congregating. Since it was deemed too dangerous for trick-or-treating, children dressed up in costumes and were treated to parties as their parents consumed secret stashes of alcohol in between the pumpkin muffins and candy corn.
Bane had lifted the law for the night, amused at the celebration. Living literally with a time bomb, Gothamites insisted upon ‘their’ holiday. He still directed his men to patrol, however.
In City Hall, he arranged for a feast for his men. He was supervising the set-up in the main hall usually reserved for trials when he saw Jonathan Crane skulking toward the foyer.
“And where are you going, Dr. Crane?”
The doctor smiled as he stopped. He certainly was a beauty. “It’s my night.” He held up his Scarecrow mask.
“Ah, yes.” Bane tapped the shoulder of one of his men and pointed at the long table. The man nodded and covered the roast beef with a silver cover. “Be careful, Doctor. We don’t want the good citizens of Gotham to run amuck with fear.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll be back by midnight.”
Crane dashed off while Bane chuckled. “I shall have your glass slipper waiting!”