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How To Disappear Completely

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Jim Gordon cupped a hand around his lighter and leaned in to touch his cigarette to the flickering flame. He pulled in a breath, trying and failing to light his smoke before another gust put the little fire out. He thought about going back inside. With the apartment empty, there was no reason for him to honor the promise he'd made Barb early in her pregnancy with Jimmy not to smoke indoors. But he only had one more night in the place; he might as well see something through.

He turned to move to a more sheltered corner of the porch, reaching to take the glass he'd left on the railing when he heard a noise above him. He looked up, cigarette forgotten, to see Batman crouching on the landing.

The appearance of the Batman was usually a bad sign, but this felt better than being alone. Gordon looked back down at the glass. "Storm moving in," Gordon said, before taking a sip of his drink. "It'll be good to get some rain as long as it stops by morning."

It had been a stifling, sticky August, complete with the usual jump in short tempers brought on by the heat. The temperature drop that would come with a storm was notable, maybe even relevant to his work; people would be less inclined to do stupid things in more reasonable weather. That didn't make talking to the Batman about the weather any less inane, though, especially now that their meetings were so rare. Gordon hadn't received a visit to his home in months--since before Dent and the Joker.

Gordon waited for a long moment. He didn't expect the Bat to take part in small talk, but he gave him the opportunity to fill the silence before he broke it again himself. "I take it you're not here to help move boxes, so you may as well get to the point. I won't be here after tomorrow."

"I know."

Gordon shifted his weight and leaned on the railing. He sighed, then drank again. "I think I'm more comfortable with your intel when it's not about me."

"Your officers do patrols. Check that your home is secure. So do I." Batman paused, then said, "I'm sorry about your family. About them leaving."

To avoid a reply, Gordon swallowed what was left in his glass, focusing on the burn through his throat and chest.

The Batman started to speak again, quiet and rasping. "She blamed me. Your wife. When you were supposed to be dead. Blamed me for bringing--this--on your home."

Gordon tensed. While it was true that Batman had saved his family, it was also true that Barbara had grown to associate the Bat with Gotham. To equate the two. And it was easier, so much easier, to hate a person than a city.

"You were there when they told her."

It wasn't a question, and Batman didn't reply.

"It doesn't matter anymore," Gordon said, and he was telling the truth: it really didn't. Because everything that had mattered about this place--everything that had made it his home--had gone halfway across the country to a city that regularly appeared on all of the top ten lists of safe places and of good school systems. Of not having maniacs kidnap your children to murder them. He wasn't happy at the reality of the kids being so far away, but after Dent, he couldn't argue with Barbara's reasons for leaving. Though he expected it wouldn't make much of a difference to her peace of mind; she would never be able to fully let go of the fear she'd learned to live with, the birthright of every citizen of Gotham.

"Don't you have someplace better to be?" he asked, pushing thoughts of his family, his children and soon-to-be-ex wife, away. When he only netted one of Batman's weighted silences, he sighed. "You may as well come inside, then," he said. "Wouldn't want one of those patrols you were talking about to see Gotham's Most Wanted on the police commissioner's porch."

Gordon turned to go back into the apartment, not looking to see if Batman followed. A moment later, he heard the door click closed behind him.

He turned to see Batman standing just inside the door, a hesitant looming shadow in his foyer. The sight was strange enough to startle a chuckle out of Gordon, and he shook his head.

"Come all of the way in," Gordon said, gesturing with his empty glass. "I'm sure there's a box in here sturdy enough for you to sit on."

When they got to the living room, he said, "I'd offer you a drink, but this is my only unpacked glass." He set the glass down next to the almost empty scotch bottle and gestured toward one of the boxes. "Sit," Gordon said. He wasn't surprised when the Batman didn't move from the spot where he stood.

He set a fresh cigarette between his lips and spoke around it. "I'm not supposed to smoke in the house." Because, for whatever reason, he couldn't stop prattling about nothing. Batman still hadn't said why he was there, and the entire exchange felt bizarre, almost unreal. In the stark light of the bare living room, standing against the white of the walls the Bat looked...not less formidable, but somehow more human. Scaled down to the size of a man, not a symbol. The mask and armor looked less like a defense than a prison, somehow, and something in the set of the shoulders beneath telegraphed exhaustion.

Gordon fished the lighter back out of his pocket then ducked his head to light the cigarette. It was pulled from his mouth before the flame made contact.

"These things will kill you," Batman said.

"They'll have to get in line," Gordon replied, managing to cover his surprise at how quickly the Batman had moved toward him and his even greater surprise at the contact. He looked up into the other man's eyes, close enough to study. The cop in him had noticed their hazel coloring long before, just as he'd estimated height and weight, cataloged details of movement and stance. But up close he saw the way gold ringed the green of the irises. They were beautiful eyes--thoughtful, guarded, hard but empathetic--and Gordon could recognize the loss reflected in them.

The cigarette dropped, broken, from Batman's fingers to the floor. He raised his other hand with a halting motion, unlike anything Gordon had seen from him before, and touched a gloved hand gently to Gordon's face before dropping both arms back down to his sides.

"What--?" Gordon asked.

"I don't know," Batman said, the uncertainty in his voice sending a shock through Gordon.

Gordon could also hear loneliness in that statement. Perhaps that was what moved him to step forward, to get even closer. He brought his own hands up, and slid his palms down the sides of Batman's face, thumbs skating over skin as the rest of his fingers swept along the smooth, body warmed Teflon. He wanted to feel the man behind the mask--a sudden, powerful urge he wasn't able to attribute to the scotch. History, the intimacy of saving each other's lives--it made the barriers seem ridiculous and flimsy. After a moment's hesitation, he slipped a forefinger under the edge of the mask and brushed the cheek beneath it.

"Who are you?"

He wasn't sure he'd said it aloud until he felt the Bat go tense beneath his hands. The words came out in a rush. "I didn't want to know, before. When I didn't want to lie if I was asked." His laugh sounded bitter, even to his own ears. He maintained eye contact as he said, "Turns out I'm a better liar than I thought I could be."

Batman took a step back, out of Gordon's hands.

"You don't owe me anything," Gordon said. "If you don't answer, I won't ask again." Gordon closed the space between them once more. When Batman didn't move away, he again raised a hand to the masked face and rested his thumb at the corner of the other man's mouth. "You can trust me; I think you already do. You don't have to do this alone."

This close, Gordon could see the conflict working along the Batman's jaw, tensing to speak, then relaxing again into silence. Gordon tipped his own head up a little and kissed him.

Gordon took a deep breath through his nose as his lips met the Batman's. The kiss he got in return wasn't gentle. It was carefully controlled strength, and Batman moved forward, forcing Gordon to take a step back and clutch the man's sides to keep from losing his balance. He felt overwhelmed with sensation--the tang of sweat in his nostrils, the hard armor beneath his hands, the slight give of the flesh underneath, surprisingly soft lips insistent on his own. He let out a breath when his back met the wall, and suddenly he tasted Batman as the man's tongue swept into his mouth.

He ignored the misgivings that tried to creep up from the back of his mind. He wanted this--wanted the release and the connection with someone who understood. Someone who wouldn't fault him for his inability to give up on Gotham despite all of the evidence that said he should. Someone who seemed just as alone as he felt.

"Fuck," he breathed, and opened his stance further as the Batman crushed into him, armor-covered thigh a hard pressure against his erection. Then, "Bed."

Batman continued to kiss him for a long moment, then stepped back. Gordon groaned at the loss of contact and closed his eyes for a moment, struggling to regain enough composure to move. After a last shaky breath, he began to walk toward the back of the apartment, down the hallway, past the vacant rooms where his children used to sleep, and finally, into his bedroom.

The room was dark, with meager light coming through the doorway from the hall and from a street lamp bleeding in through the window. He didn't turn on the light. He'd already packed most of the bedclothes, spending the hot nights sleeping in boxers and t-shirt on top of the sheets covering the futon now serving as his bed. He dropped to the edge of the mattress and looked up to see Batman hesitating in the doorway, a backlit silhouette. He watched as the man pulled off his gloves and forearm armor and dropped them with careful deliberation to the floor. The Batman raised his hands slowly toward his own head, and Gordon could see a tremor in the fingers, pale against the armor. Gordon held his breath as the cowl joined the gloves. In the dim light, the man's face was still shadowed. Then the Batman stepped forward, and he could make out a face he recognized, eyes ringed in smudged black, head framed by messy hair.

Gordon didn't say anything, shocked. Now that he knew, it made sense, all of the details falling into place. Bruce Wayne. He had the resources, and it hadn't been long after Wayne's return to Gotham that the Batman had first appeared. But Wayne covered his tracks well--had put the right face forward to deflect suspicion. The few times Gordon had indulged in conjecture, Wayne hadn't even been a candidate.

He had questions, of course, and he saw that Wayne was bracing for the onslaught. Instead, Gordon stood to pull him into another kiss, closing his eyes and savoring the contact when Wayne's newly bared hand stroked through his hair. There would be time for answers later. Gordon owed this man too much--his secret was safe.

Wayne pushed Gordon back onto the bed, then followed his body down, still pushing, until Gordon was flat on his back. Wayne's body was solid, human and real next to him, his eyes full of relief and silent gratitude that gleamed in the reflection of the streetlights. Wayne didn't speak, but kissed him again and threw a leg over Gordon's. Gordon slid a hand firmly up Wayne's ribs, slipping to his back, fingers tracing the seams of the armor, exploring. Wayne slid his free hand between their bodies and down to the fly of Gordon's jeans, pressing gently through the denim before pulling them open. Wayne drew his hand away to lick his palm, then slid the hand back down into Gordon's boxers. Gordon gasped and bucked into the touch when Wayne slipped the warm palm around his cock and began to stroke.

This wasn't a solution to any of their problems: Gordon's family was still gone, Batman was still a hunted man, and Gordon was still complicit in false accusations against him. But it was what they both needed--something close to solace. The city they were willing to die for would give them no quarter. For as long as it lasted, he'd take what he could.