Characters/Pairings (this chapter): Bruce/Jim, Dan/Addie, John Blake, 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: Halloween Night brings out the Ghosts.
Date Of Completion: September 24, 2011
Date Of Posting: October 26, 2012
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC and Warner Brothers do, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1723
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: 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, Gold, Jack O’Lanterns, Skeleton, Witch, Masquerade Ball/Halloween Party, Apples, Pumpkin Muffins, Vampires, Moon/Moonlight 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.
BAT OUT OF MISTS
With your pain.
Jim thought of the irony of wearing a mask after teasing Batman about it for years. He adjusted his domino mask. Dressed as a mage in a black cloak, tunic, and boots, he fingered the gold-painted medallion that had come with the costume.
At least I don’t have to wear a pointy hat.
He was still sticking to the alleys and shadows. Bane might have allowed masks tonight out of a sense of amusement, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t order his men to unmask anyone they found suspicious.
Jim knew how to work the alleys and streets of Gotham from his days as a foot patrolman pounding a beat with his partner Peter Foley. He was taking a risk by being out on the streets but he needed to clear his head. Months of being holed up in apartments, small houses, and even a tent in Wayne Park had given him the classic case of ‘cabin fever’.
The name ‘Wayne’ made him think of Batman and the strange tales told by Joe and John. He still couldn’t figure out what was going on. If Batman was using his theatrics, why was he doing so with friendlies? Why not contact the Resistance?
Surely he recognized John! So why the mumbo-jumbo?
He heard voices around the corner and quickly ducked into a recessed doorway. A gang of Bane’s men strolled by, toting machine guns and laughing as they patrolled. They appeared loose and careless but Jim knew these men were hardened mercenaries. If anything happened their true natures would be revealed.
He waited until they disappeared around the next corner and slipped out of the alley and hurried to Jackson Street. He went around to the back of a very modest clapboard house with peeling gray paint, carved Jack O’Lanterns glowing on the front porch and a skeleton cut-out dangling from the ceiling. A black Witch cut-out was taped to the front door and framed by a string of tiny Jack O’Lantern lights.
Jim slipped through the back door into a modest kitchen that smelled of baked apples and pumpkin muffins. He loved the warm, cozy atmosphere, smiling at the black bat cut-outs hanging from the ceiling with orange-and-black streamers.
“I’ll get ‘em, honey!” The perky redhead dressed as a fairy princess came into the kitchen, stopping at the sight of Jim. She carried a star-shaped wand and a crown glittered on her head. She quickly closed to door to the living room. “Jim!”
They embraced and Addie asked, “Are you okay?”
“I’m doing as well as everyone else.” Jim dropped his hands. “How are you and Dan doing?”
“Oh, you know how it is.”
Addie O’Reilly was a handsome woman around Jim’s age. She had a good figure and piercing green eyes. She and Barbara were good friends.
She looked at him with sympathy. “I know it’s been rough on you.”
Jim shrugged. “Well, one good thing about Barbara taking the kids is that they don’t have to live under the Occupation.”
Addie’s face grew shadowed. “I know.”
“Oh, damn, Addie, I shouldn’t have said that.”
“No it’s not.” Jim took her hands. “Your kids are still here.”
“And with Dan and me.” She smiled, tucking away her melancholy. “And now, let’s enjoy the party.”
Jim smiled. “Okay. I could use a party.”
“Don’t we all?” Addie donned her domino mask. “Nice costume, honey.”
“Thanks.” He grinned. “Pink is your color.”
She snorted. “Hardly. Green is better for redheads.”
“But pink is better for fairy princesses?”
“I think you’re right.”
The living room was decorated with black-and-orange streamers, Jack O’Lanterns, and -gauze fake cobwebs. Behind his mask, Jim mingled freely, but he knew everyone here.
Dan poured him another beer as The Monster Mash played in the background. “What’s the deal?”
“We go to the docks. We think the truck might be taking that route tonight.”
“And if it isn't?”
“Then we see what we can steal from the warehouses.”
“Commissioner,” tutted Dan
Jim smirked. He drank the beer, looking out the window. “The night’s clear. We shouldn’t have a problem.”
“Yeah, but it’s a full moon. Tough to move around.”
“We stick to the shadows.”
“Bane’s men live in the shadows.”
“This is Gotham, Dan.” Jim took a sip of his beer. The pumpkin flavor actually worked with this one. “We’re used to the shadows.”
Addie flitted over to stand next to her magician husband. She tapped his shoulder with her wand. “Be careful, darling. Our magical mage here could put a stake through your heart.”
“We’re also running low on beer.”
“Horrors! That’s the scariest thing yet,” Jim teased.
Dan showed his fangs and went to the kitchen to get more beer.
“This is so weird,” Addie said.
”What, a vampire for a husband?”
“Ha, ha.” She whacked him lightly in the stomach with her wand. “I’m talking about throwing a party as if we aren’t going to blow up to kingdom come someday.”
“Oh, now Your Highness, have faith.”
“Ah, but I could just wave this wand and see the stars dance.”
Jim smiled as he looked out the window again. The stars were exceptionally bright and the moonlight illuminated the street. He would have preferred a moonless night but so be it.
It was a beautiful night and one that reminded him of Batman. The night always made him think of the Bat and how it always felt so right. His longing became painful.
“Where’s John?” Addie asked.
“Oh, he’s around.” Thinking of John made him remember the strange apparitions that his men had seen.
Addie looked out the window. “Beautiful night.”
“Yes, it is.”
A laughing green-clad Robin Hood walked by with his arm slung around a dancing girl’s shoulders. The next song that played on the old-fashioned stereo was Witchy Woman.
Batman…Bruce?…it’s going to be all right.
Jim gazed at the shining moon.
Jim left the party an hour later. He was going to meet his men on the docks, and maybe return to the party after that. It would make a good cover. He kept his eyes open, affecting a carefree gait as he headed to the docks.
The clearness of the night began to disappear as fog began to roll in from the ocean. Jim smiled slightly. Perfect for Halloween, and good for their work tonight.
As he approached the docks, the fog grew thicker. He paused as he thought he heard…chains? Jim turned quickly but saw nothing.
Must be my imagination. Easy to get spooked, especially this night.
He could see the moon through a break in the fog and thought he saw something fly across it. He rubbed his eyes.
Man, get hold of yourself, Gordon. When you start seeing Witches fly across the face of the moon or wishing to see Bats flying over Gotham…
He heard the chains rattle again. His hand slid over to the gun he carried concealed in his cloak. One could not be too careful in Gotham, Occupation or not.
Suddenly a shadowy figure appeared in the fog. Jim’s heart nearly leaped out of his chest as he saw the outlines of the Bat.
“Batman?” The shadow remained just out of reach as the fog drifted past, wispy and mysterious. Jim’s heart ached. “Batman, talk to me.”
The Batman emerged from the fog, Jim nearly gasping as he saw how gaunt he appeared. Batman’s mouth moved but no sound came out. His eyes were shadowed and Jim stepped forward.
“It’s all right, Batman. Now that you’re back we can rid Gotham of Bane. I knew you would come back to Gotham…and me.”
The silent Bat never unnerved him but Jim wished that he would speak. He wondered if he should try again when Batman suddenly pushed back his cowl.
Jim wasn’t shocked that it was Bruce’s face revealed. He had suspected the Bat’s real identity for years.
What shocked him was how much pain glazed those amber eyes, Bruce’s face gaunt and hollow. Suffering was written in the planes of his face, not even a scraggly mustache and beard hiding how taut his skin was pulled over his bones.
“Bruce?” Jim whispered as Bruce reached his hand out, pleading for…what? Rescue? Remembrance? Salvation?
Bruce began to fade, breaking apart as he dissipated on the fog.
Jim reached out to grab the man he loved but it was like trying to catch smoke, wisps slipping through his fingers.
Bruce was gone.
Jim stared into the fog, a maelstrom of emotions roiling in his stomach.
“Commissioner!” John jogged up, a coat covering up most of his green outfit. His archer’s cap was set jauntily on his head, complete with a yellow feather. “Everything okay?”
“I…I’m not sure.”
John looked at him with concern from behind his domino mask. “What happened?”
For a moment, Jim didn’t answer, then he said, “Just a will-o-the-wisp.”
John was puzzled and shifted his green pixie boots. He put a hand on Jim’s shoulder. “We’d better get to the docks.”
Jim nodded, his heart aching as he walked beside John, their steps echoing in the fog.
Still shaken up, Jim tried to concentrate on tonight’s task when a scream echoed through the fog. He and John broke into a run and followed the screams but ended up no closer than when they’d started.
“It’s the fog. Sounds bounce around and you get confused,” Jim said.
“We’ve got to find where those screams are coming from,” John said tensely.
The clip-clop of a horse’s hooves sounded as a horrific figure rode up, Jim’s heart pounding. The raggedy clothing and monstrous mask sent a shiver down Jim’s spine. The figure vanished.
“Scarecrow!” Jim grabbed John’s arm. “If he’s on the prowl, there’s trouble.”
They went in the direction Scarecrow had gone and found a wild scene as a gang of costumed revelers attacked each other as Scarecrow laughed manically.
Suddenly a rush of cold air and dark wings flashed by and knocked Scarecrow off his horse. The terrified citizens ran off.
“What…?” John cried.
The dark apparition flew off into the fog.
Jim smiled. “Yes.”
Somehow, someway, he was sure that Bruce would come home.