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Woven

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This story is No. 6 in the series "Midnight City". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: The two kids, they aren't strange, not really. One of them, however, looks like John Blake and that's very strange indeed.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
DC Universe > BatmanVashtiFR1312,392021,1903 Jan 133 Jan 13Yes
Title: Woven
Fandom: BtVS/The Dark Knight Rises
Character(s): Commissioner James Gordon, John Blake, Sarah the OC Slayer
Rating: PG
Summary: The two kids, they aren’t strange, not really. One of them, however, looks like John Blake, and that’s very strange indeed.
Length: ~2350 words
Disclaimer: Only the words are mine, and that’s probably up for philosophical debate.

§§§

Walking down a nice street at an odd hour on a Wednesday afternoon, Commissioner James Gordon has a strange vision. A young man and younger woman in t-shirts and tank tops, long shorts and short-shorts are trying to wrangle one of those as-is couches into a doorway that’s probably too narrow for it. It’s a small, shabbily trendy area of Gotham usually full of students and twenty-somethings trying to make it in a city that, if it doesn’t kill them, will either burn off all their dross or forge them into something new.

So the two kids, they aren’t strange, not really. And because of the hour, it’s not so odd that it seems to be just them and Gordon on the street, their voices loud in the relative silence.

One of them, however, looks like John Blake and that’s very strange indeed.

They’ve made it inside the building before he can look over his shoulder again.

***

“Message for you, sir.”

Gordon took the yellow slip as he passed. “You actually take these, Pete?”

The officer in question snorted. “My wife’s trained me well.”

Ignoring the familiar stab in the gut, Gordon rolled his eyes. “Oh yeah, they’re good at that. Find Hollinsworth. Tell him I want him in my office with that report in ten.”

“Yes, sir.”

He wasn’t inside his office more than a minute before his phone was ringing, and while it was ringing someone was knocking on the door. Looking up, he gave Detective Montoya something that might be a smile and waved her in.

A second person—some rookie paper pusher too itchy to be on the street and too well-connected to kick off the force, whose name Gordon can never make stick for more than a moment—popped his head in the door. “Hey, Commish, you got a second to go over these?” He held up a battered folder.

Gordon held his hand up before Montoya could put the kid off. He had caught sight of case number. This was something he knew he wanted to see.

“Yeah," he said into the phone, "hold on for a sec Morris.” Putting the phone against his shoulder, Gordon gestured with his chin. “Hand that over this way?” Montoya relayed the file to him as the kid stepped inside. Gordon stuffed the yellow slip into the pocket of his coat so he could take the file. Then the coat came off and the rookie was hanging it up and another detective, seeing him in, was sticking his head in the door…and the note was forgotten.

***

Sighing, Gordon emptied his pockets, coat then trousers, into the shallow dish he’d been using for that purpose since Elaine’s mother had given them the ugly thing. They’d agreed it was atrocious, but hadn’t wanted to hurt her mother’s feelings—a sweet woman with questionable taste—so they’d compromised. Elaine could genuinely exclaim over how wonderful the dish was without lying, and her mother didn’t feel the need to replace it with something “better.”

Elaine had taken the kids and left the dish. Figured.

After a shower and a dinner of leftovers from the lunch one of the dispatchers had made for her department and had very generously shared with him, Gordon wandered back to the dish to redeem the spare change. First Jimmy and then Barbara had “created” giant penny jars, donated from whoever on the job had finished their pretzels first. They had held everything from pirate treasure, to the monopoly money that was inevitably lost on game night, to the wedding ring Ken had given to Barbie’s kid sister. Those things were still in there, buried under innumerable quarters, pennies, nickels and dimes rescued from their parents’ pockets. The occasional Canadian coinage had its own jar, to be used when they finally went to see the Gotham Nighthawks play the Toronto Maple Leafs. Gordon had kept up the habit, splitting his change between the two jars.

The keys stayed. The gum wrappers went. The change would take a ride. The little odd things that couldn’t be identified in a glance stayed (it had been a long day). Except the yellow slip. The yellow slip got a raised eyebrow—“Oh that’s right”—and a trip to the living room.

Carefully spilling the change onto a small end table, Gordon uncurled the slip and tried to decipher Pete’s scrawl. Which was nearly impossible. There was a reason he generally liked to handle these things right away—he could grill Pete about what he’d written. The number, though…the number was familiar. Frowning, Gordon reached for his cell phone, which was never far away, and searched for a number. He was almost positive but didn’t want to be wrong.

“Well, what do you know.”

***

“Blake.”

“It’s not too late is it?”

“Not at all, sir. I know the kind of hours you keep. You still on the clock?” Gordon could hear the goodwill on the other side.

“Nah, been home for an hour or so. I would have called you earlier but, well, you know how these go.”

“That I do, sir.” Gordon heard him take a deep breath, but didn’t hear him let it out. “It’s good to hear from you, sir.”

Gordon smiled. “Likewise. You been home long, son?”

“About a week or so. I’ve been gone a while and needed to settle in.” Gordon nodded, before remembering that Blake couldn’t see him. Before he could speak, however, Blake said, “The reason I was calling, sir, is, uh, I’d like to invite you to dinner.”

Gordon’s eyebrows went up. “Not tonight I hope.”

Blake laughed and Gordon found himself smiling. It wasn’t a sound he’d heard often during his brief connection to the young officer. He wasn’t more than 30 years old, Gordon reminded himself.

“No, sir. Whatever day works for you. My, uh, my schedule’s loosened up since we last saw each other.”

Gordon huffed. “I’ll say. How about I call you back in the morning. We’ll figure something out.”

“Thank you, sir. That sounds good.”

“Have a good night, son.”

“You, too, sir. It’s…it’s good hearing your voice.”

Not sure what to do with the surprise lacing Blake’s words, Gordon agrees, says good night again, and hangs up. Then he sorts the day’s change.

***

"Who is this? She’s fun... Ugh, no, never mind. Change the song, please."

"No."

"Jo-ohn."

"It gets better."

"Ugh. Old people and their weird tastes."

"I’m only 31."

"...You’re kidding me."
Standing outside the door, Gordon could hear more shuffling, but it seemed as good a time as any to knock.

"Wait, how old is Buffy?"

"About the same age. Maybe older."

"You’re kidding me. That is not possible."


Smiling, Gordon rapped on the door.

"Sarah, wait for me. I’ll help you with that pot."

"Um, hello, slayer strength."


A curious statement that Gordon tucked into his mental coat pockets, not wanting to forget it entirely, but not wanting Blake to see curiosity written on his face when he opened the door.

"Sarah, we talked about this. Let me help you."

"Ya ya ya. Fine. But hurry up before it burns something, like the counter. Or me."


The door opened and Blake was on the other side smiling at him. He stepped aside to let Gordon in, reaching for his coat. "It’s a little warm out for the trench, don’t you think, sir?"

"Eh...habits. It’s a convenient place to lose things."

Blake chuckled. It was still a nice sound. "So this is your place."

"Yeah. I mean, yes, sir. I know it’s not much--"

"Son, you don’t work for the city anymore. You can drop the ‘sir’. And it’s a fine place for a bachelor."

Smiling, Blake looked around as if really seeing it himself. "I guess so. Thank you, sir."

"Now, Blake--"

"Sorry..."

Both men turned at the new voice.

"But I don’t think you’re gonna win that one." She cut her eyes at Blake. "Sir."

Gordon groaned, good-natured. "Not you, too."

She grinned. "Gotta keep the guardian happy. Speaking of guardian, John, remember when I said come back before something burns? Yeah, well, if you ever want to get the security deposit back on this place I need your help. Now." She was already turning away when she said, "Unless you like scorch marks on your Formica!"

"Excuse me, sir." Blake frowned down at the coat in his hands. Gordon took it back from him, saying, "Go handle that before we have to order take-out."

***

Watching Blake and his...whoever she was to him...work around him, Gordon felt like a distant, elderly uncle seen once every few years, catered to and coddled. It was frankly weird. Especially when Blake’s young Asian friend—she’d called him her "guardian"; had she meant it literally so that she was his ward, or figuratively so that he was her...sugar-daddy?—remained a mystery.

Finally they were seated around the small table, with almost too much food for their plates and drinking glasses ready to fall off the edge. "This is quite some spread for an old man."

Blake snorted.

The girl chuffed. "The only old man here is that guy," she said, pointing with her fork. "You’re too cool to be old." Shrugging, she tucked into her meal.

This time Gordon snorted. "One thing, my dear."

Her eyebrows perked as she hurried to swallow. "Mmhmm? If it tastes funny, I told John the milk was off."

Gordon smiled. "No, no. Everything’s fine. I just wanted to know your name."

Blake swore. The girl, still unnamed, covered her face, muttering, "My mother would kill me."

Standing, Blake introduced them. Subdued, the girl Sarah, shook his hand. "Hi," she muttered.

Gordon laughed, feeling even more like the uncle with special familial privilege when Sarah beamed at him. "So how’d you two meet?" Leaning toward, Sarah, he said, "John doesn’t seem like your type."

Sarah rolled her eyes. "So not."

"She only obsesses over musicians."

"Yeah, cops don’t do it for me. Too square. Not enough nail polish."

Gordon let them bicker. He’d missed bickering that didn’t end in news conferences, bomb threats, and a tidal flood of emails. His kids had been pros it—probably still were. The details weren’t going anywhere. He hadn’t been able to help looking around the apartment, it genuinely was small, while John and Sarah had set everything up. From what he could tell, Blake had every intention of staying. There was time.

"Where do you live, Sarah?" Gordon asked. He hadn’t meant to interrupt them, but it seemed important to know.

"Um, downtown, I think? I’m still not used to the city. Wayne Enterprises is putting me up. John helped me move the other day."

"Yeah, that was fun," Blake muttered, rubbing a bicep.

Gordon frowned. "You seem a little young to work for Wayne Enterprises."

"She’s an intern."

"I can speak for myself," Sarah shot back. "I won an internship," she said to Gordon.

"I see. Just moved in?"

She nodded. "Last Wednesday."

"Hmm."

"Commissioner..."

Something about the way John said it and Gordon knew he was suspicious. But of what? And why? Had lying about Dent and the Batman still cost him so much? Gordon hadn’t thought so when Blake had left Gotham more than a year ago and, seeing him now, sun-brown and lighter somehow, Gordon found it hard to believe.

"...tell me what’s been going on in Gotham since I’ve been gone. There’s been a lot of cleanup. The bridges are all back?"

So they talked about that for a while: what had been repaired. What had been razed and redone. What had been converted. What had been left to rot. (Blake snorted. "Because Gotham wouldn’t be Gotham if something wasn’t rotting in the sun.") He was surprised by how much attention Sarah gave to the conversation, which became full of the minutia and inside information only a native could care about. But she followed along as if she’d be tested on it later.

"And crime?" she asked. Her voice was a welcome change.

"Surprisingly low. Well..." He smiled at Blake’s raised eyebrows. "Low for Gotham at any rate."

"The Batman?" she asked.

Gordon glanced at Blake. He put a hand on Sarah’s on the table. "I’m sorry, my dear, but he died saving Gotham."

She hopped up from the table and dashed into the kitchen.

Gordon turned to Blake. "She doesn’t know?"

Before he could answer, however, Sarah was slapping a newspaper on the table. She didn’t sit. The headline screamed BATFAMILY SPOTTED LEAVING DIAMOND DISTRICT HEIST "First of all, you guys have a diamond district? With your history? Amazing. Second, how do you explain that?"

"Copycats."

She snorted, moving around the table and collecting plates. "They keeping crime down?"

"The Batman worked alone."

She kicked Blake’s leg when he tried to get up and help. "But don’t get used to it. I’m just feeling restless and need to move. I am so not cleaning these by myself. And," she directed herself to Gordon, "whose to say he hasn’t picked up a sidekick or three?"

"Four."

Blake’s eyes widened. "Four?"

"That’s the most we’ve ever spotted at one time."

Sarah stopped. "You’ve seen them?"

Gordon shook his head. "No one ever gets close enough. They’re faster, even, than he was."

Blake grunted. Sarah rolled her eyes and took the dirty dishes into the kitchen. "So what if he’s called for help while he was recuperating?" she called out. "It can’t be easy getting blown up."

Gordon leaned forward, and Blake met him halfway. "She’s been working on this theory for a while, hasn’t she?"

John smiled. "Since Tibet."

"Is that where you met?" Gordon asked, sitting back and speaking normally.

"Prague. I got between her and her sisters and a mugger."

Sarah popped her head out of the kitchen. "Our hero!" Then she was gone.

Gordon chuckled. Blake, when he looked, was shaking his head and smiling. Gordon gestured toward the kitchen. "Looks like you picked up a kid sister."

"Trust me, I tried to give her back."

"Ha!"

Fin[ite]

The End

You have reached the end of "Woven". This story is complete.

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