Disclaimer: Batman does not belong to me, nor does any character mentioned therein. Buffy: the Vampire Slayer does not belong to me, nor does any character mentioned therein. No shows mentioned belong to me. Copyright infringement is *not* intended.
A/N: Insert Richard “Dick” Grayson, Edward Nigma (The Riddler).
Summary: 2nd in the Chess Series. “After it rains, the sky is blue. That’s Gotham now; the rain. So I have faith in a blue tomorrow,” Mercia said. Faith is believing without a reason to believe. BtVS x-over, AU.
“People say they believe in God,” he read, “but that’s not enough. You can believe that your God (s) or Goddess (es) exist(s) without ever truly believing in them. There has to be more; you have to *give* more. I know that it’s hard to trust nowadays; muggings, rape, murder, all on the news like they’re nothing particularly special… I won’t let those people be the afterthought. They’re something special to me. I have two damn walls dedicated to the Gotham obituary pages, from as far back as when I was six. I’m starting a new wall today. People dying is a fact of life; it’s why and *how* they died that really matters. Some people move on; some people don’t. Some are only pretending to care in the first place. Call me a bleeding heart, but I won’t let these people be forgotten.
Kids at school say that I’m weird, that I’m made of stone. That’s okay; they can think that. I don’t want them to get too close. Everyone who loves me leaves in some way and I don’t want to get hurt. I don’t want them to see the monster within.
I may have faith in God, but I don’t have faith in people.”
Bruce sipped his coffee thoughtfully. He started slightly as Alfred picked up the telephone.
“It’s Commissioner Gordon, sir. There’s been an accident, at Wayne Enterprises.”
“Holy shit,” she whispered. She’d seen dead bodies – she only had one cop friend *left* – but never like this. The body was in so many pieces that it was like blood splatter.
“Bruce, thank God!” she called, hurrying up to him and Commissioner Gordon. “Have you – don’t look at the body, okay? I’ve been to autopsies that were prettier.” Mostly for her friends, unfortunately; she’d had to identify the bodies.
“She’s right, I’m afraid. In any event, this looks cut-and-dried. Suicide.”
“Thank you Commissioner Gordon,” he said, shaking the man’s hand.
“Just doing my job.”
He and Mercia walked silently, side-by-side, through her department. He paused at Edward Nigma’s mostly empty cubicle. Maybe after this disaster was over he could take the man aside. His ideas were odd, true, but that sort of passion channeled properly could accomplish miracles. That was something he knew firsthand… but the cubicle was nearly empty. He stared at it for a long time, and then he and Mercia headed separately to their offices. She closed her door, which was unusual but understandable. Marshall Stanley had been her second, the bad cop to her good cop.
Maggie, his new and far more intelligent secretary, followed him into his office, scribbling on a notepad.
“Make sure Stanley’s family is taken care of. Full benefits.”
“He wasn’t on the corporate life insurance policy.”
“Do it anyway.”
Maggie wasn’t about to disagree.
“The society columnists have called a record thirty-nine times. They want to know who you’re taking to the charity circus.”
“I’ll ask Mercy… what’s this?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t see anyone.”
It was a plain, unmarked envelope. He pulled out the piece of paper, first looking for a name but, not finding one, reading it.
“Feed me and I Live; Give me Drink and I Die. What am I?” he paused, then said, “Fire.”
“Who would send you riddles, sir?” she asked in confusion.
“Maggie, *that’s* the riddle.”
Looking into the eyes of a young Bruce Wayne, years ago in the newspaper, Edward Nigma had seen a peer. Obviously, Bruce Wayne had looked into the eyes of an adult Edward Nigma and seen only an adversary.
“Too many questions, Mister Wayne? Well now I’m the one with all the answers.”
Gotham Calls Out For the Batman!
Ten Years Later, Gotham Admits Its Faults
Gotham is seeing some of it’s darkest times since the Joker. That’s a sad, solid fact. With men like Two-Face on the loose, some find it hard to sleep at night. Yet, we still have hope.
“The Batman was exonerated today in the deaths of six people, one of them the formerly presumed dead Harvey Dent. Mr. Dent is now known to be alive, working as the criminal Two-Face,” said Commissioner Jim Gordon, who once spoke out at Dent’s funeral.
“I was shocked, I’ll admit,” said Officer Bobby Whitman. “It’s not every day that a man comes back to life. Actually, the deaths attributed to Batman are now being attributed to him. This looks like Dent’s MO, and there was some previously overlooked evidence in that trying time. We screwed up.”
Well, at least someone’s admitting it. The public was no less at fault. People like to forget those years, but back then they called out to have the Batman unmask himself in light of the Joker’s terrorist actions. It has only brought more tragedy among us. Good police in Gotham are outnumbered by the corrupt. Crime runs rampant. Every day, in this very paper, the obituary section gets longer. Back when Dent was a good man, he said that the citizens of Gotham city were the only people that could clean up Gotham itself, and we have done everything but that. There are no more Night Watchmen Groups; no one can depend on their neighbors to know when they don’t come home for days on end, and no one calls the police when there’s a scream. We, the citizens of Gotham, have ignored the dirt of our city past our doors. We let one person do the work for us and when they were gone we didn’t step up to do things ourselves.
“First we wanted Batman to be our hero; then we wanted Dent. When Dent was there, we no longer wanted The Batman. We *wanted* him to be the villain. So he played the part, took the fall so that we could have a hero. Dent fell from grace, but he wanted him to be our martyr, so Batman let him. *He* took the fall instead,” says Barbara Gordon, sixteen, daughter of Commissioner Jim Gordon.
“I kept the papers from those days,” Commissioner Gordon’s son, eighteen, admitted. “I have to say that there was a drastic change once Dent stepped up to the plate. They had someone with a face; they no longer wanted someone with a mask.”
Dent is no longer the hero we thought he was. Since we won’t clean up our streets ourselves, the city cries out for The Batman.
It wasn’t a black dress.
It was a dark red satin, gathered in the back. Still, it was more than enough, and it made her look even more beautiful than normal. Of course, it had only made Bruce just now notice her missing ring. She hadn’t said anything, and he’d never thought to look, but her ring finger seemed… naked, somehow. He filed it away for future reference. He was wearing a tux, himself, and they were in the third row center at Gotham City Circus for this charity event. The reporters for the gossip columns *had* noticed the lack of ring, and they were talking. Mercy noticed it, but ignored, well used to the *media* circus involved in being Bruce Wayne’s friend.
“I hope you don’t mind if, a week from now, it’s reported that you’re carrying Big Foot’s baby?” Bruce joked.
“As long as the baby’s not ugly,” she deadpanned.
The name “Grayson” immediately rang a bell with Mercy. A week before, a man had been trying to make off with her purse. She’d had a knife, he’d had a gun. She was the better fighter, and was going to try make a play for it anyway, until Dick – Richard, she thought it was – had interrupted. She remembered thinking that he was brave; now she knew why. It must take a lot of courage to do something like that, no matter *how* well trained you were. She said nothing, though, continuing to watch the show.
The ringmaster was announcing, “Tonight’s charity benefit has raised $425,000 dollars for Gotham Women and Children’s hospital, so let’s give it up for our most generous donor: Bruce Wayne.” The spotlight was on them, so he stood up and took a quick bow.
The Flying Graysons did one more routine and then made their way back to the platforms, all of them taking a bow, although one of them had sat this act out.
“Listen, I’m heading out skydiving this weekend. What do you say?”
“All right. I have done it *once* before; I’ll admit, it’s a rush.”
“That it is,” Bruce agreed.
Mercia smiled slightly at the frenzied buzzing from the crowd as people standing on horses came out, apparently ready to do some tricks.
“A land of light and shadow where beasts dance and freaks are kings.”
“Could you repeat that?”
She did. “It’s a description of a circus. Not many people are aware of it, I –”
“We have to get out of here,” Bruce interrupted, standing up abruptly.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, please prepare for an act of chaos and madness, an act that should outdo any you have seen before,” the ringmaster said nervously. “This is an act of anarchy and justice; which, dear viewers, are two sides of the same coin. We call it Death in the Big Top.”
The newly arrived clowns shed their outfits, pulling enormous machine guns out from under their oversized clothes. People were still laughing somewhat nervously, until the thugs began shooting into the air. Then there were screams.
“*Shut up or die!” Two-Face shouted through the mounting disorder.
There was absolute silence.