Another dark, vaguely threatening morning, although the roiling clouds over the city made it almost impossible to tell what time of day it really was.
At an ungodly hour, Jim Gordon forced his body to get up from the uncomfortable bed he had managed to drag himself to the previous night. His head swam from the mixture of hard alcohol and pain killers still circling in his blood stream. This wasn’t such an uncommon occurrence anymore, nor a sign of things getting off to a bad start.
The detective knew why he did it, knew he couldn’t hold it together any other way. The city was killing him slowly, like a toxin. He may as well swallow toxins to stand it.
Jim sighed as he buttoned up his discarded shirt from the night before. It was presentable enough. In any case, he’d forgotten to put on the washing machine in time, so he didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. His apartment was a shambles. Wordlessly, Jim strapped on his gun holster, secured his badge and left for work, shrugging into his coat at the door tiredly. All in all, it was a fairly normal morning, or so it seemed.
He might have reconsidered that outlook when, on the way to work, he was suddenly confronted with a man pulling a gun and attempting to rob the whole car of the subway. It wasn’t even 7 o’clock in the morning. Jim cursed inwardly at this bout of bad luck. His head throbbed, but the world expected him to handle the situation anyway. So, he handled it. He had to freaking handle it, didn’t he?
Jim watched the fiasco unfold for a moment, sitting near the end of the train car, blue eyes bright. He took in the old woman struggling to take off her gold watch while keeping her ridiculous lap dog from jumping at the guy. He studied the way business men and women around him were trembling and shrieking as the man waved the gun around, throwing out outrageous threats. Jim didn’t feel a thing, just the slow calculated beating of his heart.
He was sick of this. Not of the job per se. But it put him on edge, the sheer capacity of the city to spit in the face of every good person on a near constant basis. He was sick of the very thing happening in front of him. In the last few weeks Jim had noticed a growing part deep inside becoming so enraged, he would almost be willing to cross that line once more. But he had sworn to himself not to cross it again. Still, that simmering part beckoned to shoot the guy in the head, right between the eyes. At least that way he would be sure the guy wouldn’t come back later to haunt him. The option seemed less messy. It would be so easy, too. He knew he could take him.
In situations like these, Jim asked himself if it would be better or worse if he didn’t still have a conscience. Although that thing he called a conscience seemed gritty enough nowadays, somewhere in the middle of a gray zone, lost in a sea of crime.
He knew full well that Barnes wasn’t wrong, that there were good reasons why the justice system worked with such things as rules and regulations. It was still very clear in his mind, the moment when the Police Captain had said it was the only thing that kept them from being animals. Later however, after everything, that hadn’t mattered. His stuttering spark of hope for justice had been quenched. In that moment he had pulled the trigger, allowing himself to take justice into his own hands. It had been a mistake. The enormity of what he had become still hung over his soul, a dark moon in a starless sky.
Jim stood up then, subtly shifting to stand on the balls of his feet, an eerie battle calm settling over him. From a long way away, he heard himself speak, saw the man with the gun turn to him instantly, angrily, hazel eyes narrowing.
“GCPD. Sir, I want you to calm down. We can resolve this without bloodshed,” Jim said, holding one hand up in a placating gesture as he moved forward, putting his body between the man and some of the passengers.
The man looked at him. Then he laughed, a touch crazily, pulling his thin lips into a sneer.
“Oh, you’ve gotta be kidding me. A policeman. What are the chances, huh?”
Jim didn’t rise to the bait and took a careful step closer. It was hot in the train car. He felt the first beads of sweat slip down his lower back. He had this. Everything was under control. Jim just needed to keep his face impassive, to not let the dangerous part inside him spill out.
“Sir. It’s alright. Look at me. What do you need?”
He wouldn’t cross the line, not again. He was past that. Jim wanted to be a better man again, like before all this madness had started.
So, being as non-threatening as possible, Jim tried to talk sense to the armed thief. Standard procedure. Keep the threat as low as possible. He tried to keep him talking, while getting close enough to overwhelm him, or at least to keep him busy and prevent him from doing more stupid things.
The man sneered and shot the detective at point blank range from a distance of less than six feet.
Jim had put on the tight-fitting, bulletproof vest under his blue dress shirt before going out. When the assailant suddenly pulled the trigger, Jim felt a short burst of gratitude he hadn’t forgotten the damn thing for once.
Nevertheless, being shot hurt. It hurt a lot.
The sound of the revolver in the enclosed space of the moving train was incredibly loud. Everyone shrieked in horror.
The impact made him go rigid with shock, the vest pushing into his ribcage as its structure deflected the pressure of the bullet across the right side of his chest, a concentric circle of pain. For a second, his lungs couldn’t pull air properly. Jim staggered, gripping the wall of the train car with a grunt as searing agony bloomed outwards from his chest.
Shooting him didn’t have the desired effect, but Jim let the man think whatever he wanted. Pointedly playing up his own wheezing and using the searing pain to his advantage, Jim pretended to lose his balance further, half slumping against the wall and doubling over so that the guy couldn’t see there weren’t any bloodstains seeping through his shirt, suit jacket and overcoat. The shooter surveyed him coldly and laughed, drunk on unexpected victory.
“Pig. Hope that taught you a lesson, yessir, a fucking lesson!” He raised his gun once more.
“So, as I was saying- , “
The second Jim felt the attention of the assailant shifting away from him, he made his move. The other’s eyes widened comically as Jim charged him, knocking the gun out of his hand with a sharp movement. Jim followed up with a resounding right hook straight under the chin, sending the guy reeling. Grabbing hold of him roughly, Jim managed to cuff the would-be-thief to one of the seats. The commuters continued shrieking unnecessarily as Jim allowed himself a few seconds to get his breathing back under control and prevent his hands from shaking any worse.
Shit, he had been slow. It was the painkillers, he was sure of it.
“It’s under control! Please, ladies, gentlemen, everyone. It’s over. No reason to panic,” Jim called out.
He sounded so calm, so in control, so professional. It was laughable. What he might have liked to say was more along the lines of: Shut up, you spoiled brats, all of you!
Instead, he forced himself to smile politely, not grimace, as some of the people gave a few tentative claps, like they had been to an avant-garde play and didn’t know how to react just yet. As if he hadn’t just saved their lives and their gold watches. The commuters appeared to be almost afraid of him, some shying back from his gaze.
Jim felt so very tired. And he hadn’t even made it to work yet.
What the fuck was wrong with his city.
After the situation had been resolved, backup on site and the train car emptied of witnesses and bystanders, the detective found himself standing on the platform. A young sergeant looked away with a slight frown as Jim twisted the arm of the assailant a little too hard, unable to let him get off so easily. The guy was pleading for him to stop, to not break his arm when he finally allowed the sergeant to lead him away.
The other officer, an older man, grunted nonchalantly as his younger colleague marched away and looked at Jim.
“Did he shoot you?” he asked in an almost bored tone as he chewed his bubblegum.
“Well, damn,” The officer drawled. “Not a great start, huh, Detective Gordon?”
“No.” Jim said shortly, feeling his dislike for this particular colleague grow.
Each breath was getting a little more painful, and he knew the bruising under the vest must be extensive.
“Want to get that looked at?” the officer asked and smiled faintly when Jim sighed in an exasperated tone.
“No, thanks. I’m heading to the precinct anyway. I can get it looked at there. No need to drop me someplace.”
The man just looked at him expressionlessly. “As you say, Detective,” he said, popping a bubble. “If you could just sign this, then.”
Jim signed the report he had already dictated to the younger officer. He ignored the pain in his chest and the still throbbing headache as best he could. “Thanks for wrapping up here. Appreciate it,” he said, giving a brief nod. Grim expression not showing a glimpse of the glaring pain he felt, Jim said goodbye and turned away.
Fine, so he needed a few more painkillers today. Not a big deal. What annoyed him most was that he was late for work, now. Not to forget he already had such a backlog of paperwork to do, probably already doubling due to the incident. No way would it be over with that report. He just knew it.
But Jim never arrived at the precinct that day.
Somewhere between declining the offer of a lift and taking the next subway out, now only two stations away from work, James Gordon disappeared entirely.
The moment he realized he was being followed in the tunnel of the subway station he knew it wasn’t a normal morning, even for the especially low standards Gotham had set, but the weird type of a morning. The weird ones he hated most, if he was honest.
Eyes narrowing slightly, Jim continued walking as he weighed his options.
There were two men behind him, their long flowing robes of faded blue probably hiding weapons. With that kind of outfit, they couldn’t go unnoticed for long, even in Gotham, but they really didn’t seem to give a damn. Their eyes tracked his every movement as Jim continued to pretend he hadn’t noticed them. Briefly letting his eyes drop down and to the side, he watched their reflections catch in the glass casings of advertisements lining the crowded corridor as he strode forward briskly. Jim hoped to lose them in the crowd without betraying himself by running. If he had been at full strength, perhaps he could have outpaced them or outwitted them. Maybe he could have openly, stupidly, confronted them. Right now, though, his whole right side was a throbbing mess of pain and lights that didn’t belong there flickered along the edges of his vision.
He stayed subtly focused on the men behind him, as focused as he could, considering the sharp pain it caused him to breathe and the way his poor head was still throbbing. Jim gritted his teeth and weaved through the masses, noticing his hand couldn’t even seem to find his holster or his gun.
That was bad.
At least he was nearing the stairs to ground level, only a short distance from the precinct. Whatever this was set out to be, Jim knew he could make it out into the open in time and take care of the situation there. They wouldn’t follow him beyond his own doorstep, surely.
He was too focused what was going on behind him, in the end.
The weary detective didn’t notice the third man, dressed completely casually, until it was too late – until, at the brink of the stairs, his arms were suddenly being twisted behind his back painfully. Jim felt the prick of a syringe at the side of his neck.
He struggled, opening his mouth to call for help, feeling the first spark of panic when nothing came out, only a strangled gasp. The stuff was working quickly. He stumbled forward, trying to free his arms to turn around and finally pull his weapon, but not managing it. No one stopped or even looked at him in the crowd of stressed workers when he sagged against the third man, groaning faintly as the world started tilting and reeling beyond his control. One harried-looking commuter gave him a glare as he passed by, muttering something about drunks that should take it elsewhere. No one saw what was going on. Jim’s vision started turning black. His tongue was unable to move, a useless weight.
He felt an arm go around his waist and someone lean in close.
“You’re perfect,” the voice said, and then something else. Jim couldn’t make sense of it, but something in the tone made the hairs rise up on the back of his neck.
Then his legs gave way. He felt the dirty cool tiles of the flooring against his cheek as his consciousness flickered, dissolving, finally free-falling into a dark void.
This was an especially bad morning, even for Gotham standards.