She's gorgeous. She's gorgeous and that's not a thought Renee Montoya should be having right now.
Sitting on the curb, Summer Gleason is a far cry from the immaculate woman from the news. Her red hair gleams in the streetlight, but it's the only part of her usually glittering persona that does.
It doesn't matter. She's still beautiful no matter what filth Gotham tries to cloak her in.
"I think," Summer mumbles, face pressed against her arms, "I think I'm going to be sick."
Renee drops down beside her, laying a cool hand on the back of her neck. "Just breathe," she says. "In and out. It'll pass." She think about it, hesitates, and then jokes, "And if it doesn't, Bullock's car is right over there."
Summer spares a quick glance, looking out at her through the fall of her hair. It's skeptical, but it's something and Renee'll take what she can get.
"Trust me," she adds, leaning in, "It'll be an improvement." She jerks her head at Bullock, arguing with forensics—who look about ready to stomp off the scene and won't the commissioner just love that. "I think Bullock's been storing toxic waste in there."
She gets a hiccuped laugh for her troubles. "I'd say you don't like him much, but I get the feeling I'd be wrong."
"You would be," Renee agrees. "He's a pain in the ass. A huge pain in the ass." She can name a dozen different reasons without even having to think. "Some days, I'm tempted to shoot him myself, but he's a good man. A good cop." One of the few is implicit. Gotham's gotten better under Jim Gordon—and Batman—but it's not all the way there yet. Summer knows that as well as she does. There are cops in Gotham that no one dare trust.
"And?" Summer prompts.
Renee looks at her, feeling herself begin to smile in answer to Summer's curious grin. "And he doesn't give a shit."
"About what? You being a woman or—" Summer's cheeks flush just a little in the streetlight. Awkward, but not offended.
"My being gay?" Renee shrugs, but she's still smiling. "Either or." She looks past Summer, past the police cars and the tape. "He'll do right by this case."
"So will you, Detective." Summer lays a hand on Renee's knee. For the moment, she's been successfully distracted. The trauma of a few minutes before temporarily slipping from her mind. It's a mercy and Renee finds herself praying it lasts just a little while longer. No one's untouched by Gotham. Not forever. Summer's friendly smile and charming disposition is as much construct as Renee's, but Renee finds herself wishing it wasn't. "I envy you."
For a moment, Renee's not sure she's heard her right. She replays Summer's words back, aware of Summer's scrutiny, and blinks when, yes, she decides she has. "I'm sorry?"
"Bullock." Summer looks down at her own hands. They're grubby and blood-stained. The remnants of trying to save the dying. "He really doesn't care, does he?"
"No," Renee says, the word slowly sliding past her lips. The hesitance of the revelation. There's genuine envy written onto the features of the woman at her side.
Abruptly, Summer laughs. Tips her head back and stares at the sky. "Five minutes ago I was—" she breaks off, swallowing hard. After a moment, two, she tries again. "Five minutes ago, I was—" She laughs. "God, I can't even say it."
"It's natural," Renee says. She lays a hand atop Summer's and squeezes gently. "Go on."
"I just saw someone die," Summer says, harsh and angry. Angry with herself. "I shouldn't be flirting with someone. I shouldn't be—" She looks at Renee. "I shouldn't envy the life you have."
It's not Gotham that cares. Renee bites her lip, letting the comment about flirting pass. For now. "Family?"
"The ones that know," Summer sighs. "The others—Mom doesn't. I can't—" She spreads her hands. "Her heart. I'm sorry, I shouldn't be telling you this." She ducks her head again, but her designer jeans are stained with blood, mud, and things no one wants to put name to. Renee can count the seconds down to Summer looking at her again. "I came here to start over. I wanted to write for a newspaper—"
"You became the face of Gotham instead."
"I thought that was Batman," Summer jokes.
"He'd prefer it was you," Renee says. She smiles. "So do I." She laughs. "So would my grandmother."
"Your grandmother?" Summer's eyebrows rise with curiosity. "How so?"
"Your smile," Renee thinks of her grandmother's garden and her hushed comments to her rose bushes. For a moment, she's tempted to share the ones she wasn't supposed to hear, but she doesn't.
Not tonight. Not with Summer's adrenaline slowly fading, her hands just beginning to shake with the ordeal she's been through, and the weight of someone's death on pressing down on them both.
"My smile?" Summer echoes.
Renee nods. "And your opinions. Especially those. Speaking your mind in this city isn't easy."
Not with the tendency to see you dead.
"Nothing in this city is," Summer's voice quakes. "I went out tonight to get milk."
"I was going home," Renee says. "A hot bath, maybe a movie—"
"You should," Summer says. "After this, you've earned it."
"Maybe," Renee agrees, "but not tonight." And not for a while.
"Tonight, Detective, you have a murder to solve," Summer agrees. "And a sufficiently calmed witness to interview. Thank you for that." She looks back and shudders. "I needed it."
"That's not why," Renee says. She frowns. "I mean, it is in that—" She shakes her head. "I'm not saying this well."
"Maybe not," Summer says, soft, "but I know what you meant." She smiles again and Renee thinks that, not that she should be surprised, her grandmother is right about Summer Gleeson's smile.
"Good," Renee stands. "But, now, I do need to ask—think, maybe, you're ready to try that sketch artist now?"
She holds out a hand and Summer takes it. "Yeah, I think I am."
Something else lurks in Summer's gaze for a moment. Renee can almost watch the debate play out, thought by thought, and smiles. "Sometime, yes. It would be nice to talk to someone else about it."
"Someone who understands." Summer bites her lip. "How did your grandmother take—"
Renee exhales. "It wasn't easy and it took a long time, but now? We're good. She's still hoping for great-grandchildren, but we're good."
She almost jokes that bringing home Summer Gleason would make things perfect, but that's for another night and, besides, Bullock is giving them the eye. In ten seconds, he's going to start yelling and it would be disrespectful to the dead to shoot him.
Instead, she lays a hand gentle against Summer's back and leads her through the crowd. It's not the night for a lot of things, but with a victim and a witness depending on her, Renee doesn't mind so much. She'll have other nights and other chances.
In Gotham, the night is never far.