Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers stand. Doesn't belong to me, really.
A/N: Hello, dear readers. After long debates with myself, I've decided to post the story I've been writing for years here on this site. I've had my reasons not to do that before, which has evidently gotten beaten by my apparent longing for appreciation and attention.
The reason why I was hesitant before to bring it out to light was simply this: The main featuring character beside Bruce Wayne is a gender-bender, which is something I'm not still so proud of, and some plots lines, even though words are mostly mine, not quite belong to me, I'm kind of ripping them off, adapting into Nolanverse, I might be not the best being 'creative', but let me assure you, I'm very good at what I'm doing. The reason why this has become a gender-bender is simply that Coleman Reese was having all the bases I wanted to do with this thing, and the temptation was so sweet, I couldn't resist it. Hence, Coleman Reese became 'Cameron' Reese. This will be a Bruce Wayne/semi-canon-semi-OC story but essentially more than anything this will be a Bruce Wayne story. Batman, obviously, will be always around, always, but I'm more interested in the man behind the mask than the mask itself. And you see, it wasn't Batman who saved Coleman Reese in the movie but it was Bruce Wayne, as himself, the first person Bruce helped/saved without the mask.
The main inspiration for my fic is, of course, one of my OTP's of all time, Daniel and Vala from the Stargate SG-1, which I still love with passion, and wanted to give something close to that effect to Bruce Wayne, someone he's very close and again apart like planets, but someone to whom he can place his hopes and beliefs, the thing he will probably the most need after what happened in TDK. And furthmore, a tangled friendship, in which he can be himself, doesn't need to pretend.
The other plot-the killer idea-I said I've ripped off, is a published work of an amazing writer in my country, which something you lot most certainly didn't hear about it, and I do not particularly feel well associating it to anything related to fanfiction on the internet, but if you PM or email me, in case of any curiousity, I'll happily let you know about it more in details. The reason of it more than anything is the theme; death, and losing people you care, and how it affects people, the essential things to Bruce Wayne, imo.
But of course, for the last... My horde of beta-readers; first and foremost, dearest Moonstruck Kitten without whose editing skills and patience, I couldn't get this anything legible(and thanks Kimmae too for brief help); and Progenitus, Godspeed Revolution, Enaskoritsi for their critics, opinions, and generous help. First edit was done by Elusivemuse.
And yes, I need a couple of beta-readers, I'm that bad!
Now, here the story...
"There is no such thing as one-sided coin."
- Destruction of the Endless
One vigilante, one accomplice, one killer, and one city trying to get better; a man of despair, a woman of many faces, a child of vengeance, and a city looking more like a necropolis; in other words-a hell of a lot of problems. Succinctly put; welcome to Gotham.
The dogs had bigger prey to hunt, but she wasn't taking any chances. Even if the Police Commissioner himself could offer her protection, or some sort of negotiation, the woman known as Cameron Reese in one point in her life wouldn't know because she wasn't going to give away her position. She wasn't taking any chances.
The police were obviously out of the question. That much she knew the moment she had heard the latest news of Batman. The safe house where the commissioner had sent her was located on the outskirts of Gotham, gently flirting with the big city. Escape hadn't been as difficult as she'd presumed nor was the police officer that stationed to monitor her. The blonde on TV had been still going on about Batman's last criminal acts when she knocked him out; he sprawled on the floor, hands over his head, one leg crossed over other; unconscious but still breathing.
Yes, the force was out of question, so was the mob. She doubted there was any lost love between them, and even if there was, it wouldn't really matter because she wasn't going to sell him out. Not this time.
Five months ago:
Cameron Reese was a good daughter, a good lawyer, and an even better employee. The youngest of four girls whose father dreamed of having a son, little Cameron had been raised as an obedient daughter who talked little and smiled even less. All her life had been laid out to her even before she had been born since that faithful day at the doctor's office. There had been no surprises in Mr. Reese's life so he didn't see any reason why there should be any in his daughter's.
When Cameron graduated from Harvard with a degree in Law and Accounting, her father held her by shoulders and she was told that he was proud of her, yet the cloud over his eyes didn't go by unnoticed. Cameron knew what it meant, and her father did too; but they didn't talk about it. Discussing feelings wasn't appropriate in the Reese family.
When Cameron told her father that she had been appointed to evaluate the books for Wayne Enterprises, her father smiled and told her he was proud, and she smiled back. But she's still not a son, he must have thought.
On the surface, Ms. Cameron Reese was a cold, calculating, stern woman who talked little and smiled even less. And everyone generally believed what they saw on the surface, as trusting in appearances made life easier, but it was also a one way ticket to being wrong, so dead wrong.
On a sunny day at the top of the ever majestic Wayne Tower, Ms. Reese appeared to be how account lawyers all around the globe were supposed to be; assidious, diligent, and always worried, and she had a very good reason to be worried, because things weren't going she'd planned, not one bit. By now she should already have been gone from Gotham —very rich—, not sitting in the middle of a tedious board meeting.
As uncomfortable as she felt in a conservative suit and fake glasses, Cameron Reese could not simply wander around Wayne Building she would like to. The Chinese suit of LSI was talking about opportunities and such, but the words were meaningless to her. Her gaze flicked toward the man across the table and her hand clenched underneath the table. God damn him to Hell and back! Bruce Wayne, the Prince of Gotham, was snoring loudly, slumped back against his chair, his head lolled over the headrest. This was stupid, she decided, entirely and completely stupid. She should have been gone long ago…
Admittedly, the corporate cons weren't her usual schemes, but a girl always had to look for greener pastures. The plan though was simple, one of the oldest of the game; find a company LSI Holdings was planning to merge with, infiltrate it, find the books, find the bank accounts, transfer comparatively small amount of money to an untraceable Swiss bank account, and then get the hell out. Yes, not exactly delicate, but the famous Casanova way; in and out, fast.
Unfortunately she hadn't calculated in the Bruce Wayne factor. Being a spoiled rich Peter Pan who happened to be handed over an awful lot of money, she could slacking him off on mundane things like his company's business, but falling asleep and snoring in a board meeting was entirely another thing. Not that this was a particularly fascinating meeting; even she had had to pinch herself a few times to keep her attention where it belonged, but still… Her glare returned to his sleeping figure; his back leaned in a posture only bursting bank accounts could supply, his elegant features eased into a peaceful state, his broad chest moving up and down with his steady breaths. She wondered briefly if he was faking it. Even she, of all of people, wasn't sure what he could possibly hope to accomplish with this mockery, but he was very, very rich and rich people were known to be eccentric.
If it had been another time, she wouldn't have minded (after all, who was she to complain about fake personalities?). She would have sat back, amused, and enjoyed the show, as long as it wasn't crossing her path. But this wasn't any other time, and he was definitely crossing her path now.
She sighed inwardly. This corporate business con had proved itself more tiresome than she had expected, and she was getting fed up with playing Good Girlie. She wished she was in her usual circle of friends where she could smack some fine points of business into their heads.
But, she wasn't quite ready to call it quits yet either. She refused to throw in the towel just because of a rich boy, however ridiculously eccentric he might be.
When the meeting came to an end; there was only a few things to be discussed when the supposed chairman kept snoring after all; she stood up and walked toward Wayne Enterprises' CEO Lucius Fox. She held her ground before the man, one foot slightly before the other, arms tight at her sides.
"Mr. Fox—" she started, her tone appropriate for talking to a superior about the big boss and glanced back toward the snoring man, "sir, I know Mr. Wayne is curious about how his trust fund gets replenished, but frankly, this is embarrassing."
Fox followed her gaze to said big boss, aka the fool of the town, and then looked back at her. She felt her stomach clench, and her very being roared in protest. Used to standing on the other side of proverbial line, she hated receiving those kinds of stares, meant only to condescend. "You worry about diligence, Ms. Reese," sneered the arrogant man. "I'll worry about Mr. Wayne."
She half-turned and closed her eyes. Count to ten…just think of all that money … Fortunately that was all the motivation she needed. She had spent months planning this con, on top of the six months enduring the mundane nine-to-six office life. No, she had come here for a reason and she wasn't going back with empty hands. She turned back to face Mr. Fox, and with all the reticence she could gather she muttered, "The numbers are solid."
He gave her another patronizing stare, this time accompanied with an equally adjective smile. "Do them again," he turned to leave. "Wouldn't want the trust fund to run out now, would we?" he added over his shoulder.
She glared at his retreating back and sniffed. This had better be worth it.
She did the numbers again. She couldn't know why; when she thought she was sure about something, she tended to be right about it hence the numbers were solid, much like the first time. Then she did something else. She wasn't sure what urged her to do it, something almost primal, as much as irresistible. If she were lucky enough, she might find something against Fox and turn the tables on him. So she didn't stop with numbers, and searched Wayne Enterprises' other funds as well.
Then she caught something.
It was easy to assume it was a small glitch, easy to overlook; but to her it stood out like a red flag, beckoning to her through the screen. She decided to dive deeper, to search for other such anomalies, but to do that it was necessary to break into the files she didn't have authorization to see. That thought was enough to put her off.
Not with haste, she warned herself. Delicate situations require careful planning. With the proper tools and time she could hack into their systems. It wouldn't be easy but she could pull it off; and if it proved beyond her skills her she could easily hire Jeremy for another job. She wasn't really a fan of team jobs-too many problems to take care of-but Jeremy had proven himself to be a good partner on several different occasions, and he was an even better hacker. He was solid, unemotional, and always down to business. It would be child's play from him to find his way in.
But was it necessary? No, not really. She was there with a goal, as impossible as it seemed, and she had enough problems already; this was no time to chase after ghosts. There likely wasn't any profit to be gained except putting Fox in his place. But that, she had to admit, would be enough payoff at the end.
You shouldn't get personal and childish, chided half of her mind while the other started to list necessary precautions: An untraceable laptop is a must… No, stop, she ordered herself. There must be other ways to get back at Fox without risking her cover identity. No man with his status could have risen to where he stood with clean hands.
With that thought in mind, she started to investigate his background. His ascension to power, fall, and re-ascension was a curious case, and had been the favorite subject of Wayne Enterprises' grapevine for almost a year. Suddenly it hit her, hit her hard. Straightening her back, she checked the dates. They matched. The glitch was the same day as Fox's legendary return from his exile in the basement: the day Fox's former department had merged with Archives; the same day Bruce Wayne had regained his throne from the clutches of William Earle. A definite hostile takeover, but downright illegal too?
She smiled. It seemed so.
She stood up and headed for the elevator to descend into basement. There was something, something in there, she was sure of it. And when the woman known as Cameron Reese at that point of her life was sure about something she also tended to be right about it.
That night, in her tiny flat, she went over her options. Jason had warned her several times about greed. You must have control over your greed before it starts controlling you, she could almost hear his voice in her mind. "People say because of our profession we are greedy," he had said, his cigarette hanging at the corner of his lips out of habit, unlit. He couldn't be counted as a good father according to any social principles but at least he had been trying, in his own way. "to some extent, I must admit, doll, it's true, but I discovered some time ago the easiest way for a first class ticket behind the bars is greed exceeding one's abilities." He had fixed a mocking finger at her, "Know thyself."
When she had seen the designs of that thing that occupied the news every night, jumping from roof to roof, pancaking police cars, she had laughed. The merry sound had ripped through the abrasive silence of Archives, and despite it she had laughed again.
How delightfully unexpected... how very interesting.
Once the shock of her discovery wore off, she pondered what to do. Making sacrifices was part of life for her. If you chose to become a drafter and thief as a profession, you were bound to forsake some things in favor of others, or else you wouldn't last long.
Yes, the con wasn't excellent but it was good enough, and her sources were more than a little sure LSI's income's had been gained in not-quite-legal ways so it wasn't very likely they would call a full investigation. They would surely want to deal with it themselves but she had been very careful not to leave any traces that would lead them to her. She had no partners to worry about and had worked hard to make Cameron Reese's background impeccable. Truthfully though, more than anything she had been trusting that LSI wouldn't want to gets its hands dirty over a couple hundred thousand dollars when they had the opportunity to make billions.
A couple hundred thousand dollars wasn't bad; on the other hand, the secret she had unburied must be worth millions. She felt an urge, a stupid compulsive need to be acknowledged, to amaze them, to make them appreciate her skills. You have fooled everyone, but not me. You are good but I am better.
Greed and pride… Who could resist their call? For that she chose to blame the frailty of humanity. And truthfully, if even the great Morningstar could fall, who was lil' ol' her not to follow anyway?
The following morning she went to see Fox in his office she was dressed how Cameron Reese would dress for such an occasion. It was Ms. Reese who had come through the massive main entrance six months ago and it was crucial that the same Ms. Reese would leave it.
Dressing in the way she would have preferred wouldn't do. The fabricated background of Cameron Reese was different than hers as she'd crafted it to paint her suitable to sit in the board meetings of an intentional corporate empire. Cameron was a stern, always down-to-business woman but then again, a relief in persona must be created as Cameron was going to blackmail her boss. So she wore a simple white shirt and dark, flowing high waist pants instead of the conventional suits, put her glasses on but instead of a professional tight bun, let the dirty blonde hair hang loose down her shoulders in waves. She put faint yet bright nude toned eye shadow on, going with her light green eyes, and the favorite light peach lipstick was gone, but she did go with the darkest pink, something closest to the red that Ms. Reese could wear. Yes, that should do it.
Even though he did notice the difference in her attitude (and he must have done, it was hard to overlook) he didn't show it. She sat back, and crossed her legs in a way Cameron Reese would never do under normal circumstances, mostly to worry him. Fox, however, didn't even bother to lift his head from the reports he was reading. "What can I do for you, Ms. Reese?" he mumbled nonchalantly into his newspaper.
She resisted the urge to grit her teeth and replied in a sweet tone, "You wanted me to do diligence on the LSI Holdings deal again," she said, then paused. "I found some irregularities."
He finally lifted his head up and…that stupid smile again. "Their CEO is in the police custody."
She threw at him the most benign smile she could handle and looked directly into his eyes. "Not with their numbers, with yours. Applied Sciences," she flashed another mocking smile and leaned forward, "a whole division of Wayne Enterprises just disappeared overnight. I went down to Archives and started pulling some old files." She leaned back again and looked at him smugly. "It is amazing what one could find through that mess," she cooed, then stopped to wait for an answer. He stared at her in silence, she continued: "Don't tell me you didn't recognize your baby out there, pancaking cop cars on the evening news. Now you've got the entire R&D Department burning through cash, claiming it's related to cell phones for the Army! What are you building for him now, a rocket ship?"
At that point she had to admit her mouth overran her brain. The slip of Cameron's persona was visible—she had waited so long to gloat—but luckily he didn't seem to be aware of it. He kept looking at her, and defiantly she held his stare. "Ms. Reese," he said shortly, "what do you want?"
"I want…" she halted to cause a dramatic pause. "I've never been a greedy person, Mr. Fox. I want…say…a million dollars a year. For the rest of my life."
Surprised, he straightened back, and smiled. "Let me get this straight. You think that your client, one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the world, is secretly a vigilante…" What? Could it be that she heard him wrong? "...who spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands…" she blinked once, then twice, "…and your plan is to blackmail this person?" Satisfied by her frozen stupor, he leaned back and yet again smiled down at her. "Well, good luck."
She knew that a good fighter should know when to retreat and analyze the situation to strike back again. She stood up, and turned to leave. "Keep that as well," Fox called after her, gesturing at the plans with his head.
"I already have copies," she said through her teeth.
How had she missed it, how had she let appearances fool her to the point where she didn't have any good excuses for her failure was beyond her. But dammit, hadn't it seemed logical. Definitely more logical than believing Bruce Wayne to be personally that rodent man instead of just banking and backing him up.
But, then again, everything really had started with Wayne's coming back from the dead, from his long absence doing only-God-knew what. A young man, merely a teenager who had disappeared off the face of earth the very day his parent's killer had been gunned down by the mob at the courthouse in which he had been set free. How could she have missed such a thing? She glared at the ceiling.
No, she hadn't missed that part. She had assumed that Bruce Wayne's support for the vigilante was for that particular reason. And Bruce Wayne was the most self-absorbed, self-involved person she had ever known—and that was saying a lot. How he could be that thing…it didn't seem logical.
That night in her home, she continued to mull over him at great length. She remembered her doubts about his mannerisms, the times she had thought he was faking it. Some things only made sense only in retrospect, she thought grudgingly, gazing at her ceiling. But stressing over it didn't help anything; especially with Fox thinking she had known the truth. And truth to be told, what would have changed if she had known the secret anyway? She still would have threatened him.
Like she did in all times of crisis, she consulted her best friend: the short round glass in front her on the coffee table. There should still be something she could do with that information.
Would blackmailing Fox and Bruce Wayne for being accomplices have been less dangerous than blackmailing the vigilante directly? No. No, it wouldn't have. Would Fox tell him what she had tried...he would, certainly. Now what would Batman do to her? Threaten her, for starters, she was sure. She was also sure he couldn't harm her in a deathly way, maybe a few bruises and such but not further. He had rules, everyone knew it. She had tried to blackmail him, yes, but as much as he knew she was an opportunistic young woman who was out of her depths. Apart from an attempt for blackmail, Cameron Reese wasn't a criminal. Moral laws, social norms and semantics to be damned for all she cared.
After second glass of scotch, she had categorized the situation as 'not that bad'.' After the third she was truly convinced he couldn't harm her fatally. By the fourth she started to consider that there might still be a way to salvage the situation.
The following night, on T.V she saw Harvey Dent declare himself as Batman.
The two days after Harvey Dent's speech at the press conference passed in no less than a frenzy. The whole word was going crazy over that painted, very hostile psychopath and she had started to get really worried. So far she hadn't really dwelled on the Joker, she hadn't thought she needed to. She had other priorities. But things were quickly getting out of control. And he seemed to be very determined to learn Batman's true identity. Could this back fire on her? Assuming that Fox hadn't yet told Wayne (and she had to for Batman had yet to make an appearance to her) there was no one else who knew what she knew. Still, even that was too much.
In retrospect she knew she should have left Gotham as soon as she saw Harvey Dent's face plastered on the TVs. It would have been the most sensible thing to do. She should have gone back into hiding and found another job somewhere else and forgot all about it. It wouldn't have been easy, leaving behind all her hard work with empty hands, but then again it wouldn't have been life threatening. Despite what she believed, money couldn't buy everything (like a life.)
Yes, it would have been the most sensible thing to but unfortunately there could be a lot of thing said about her but sensibility had never been one of those things.
"Gotham Gazette," a receptionist declared with a chirpy tone. "This is Melinda speaking. How may I direct your call?"
So she had called. She had mulled over it, again, again, and again; regarded it as one of the most stupid plans that had been ever thought of by all humanity but she had called anyway. "I'd like to speak with Mr. Engels, please."
"Who is calling?"
"I am…"She halted for a second, a brief hesitation creeping into her nonchalant tone, "I am in possession of information that will interest him."
"I am sorry," Melinda said with a voice that sounding not sorry at all. "I can't direct anonymous calls to Mr. Engels."
"How very ordinary for someone who calls himself an investigative reporter, wouldn't you agree?" She let out a throaty laugh. "I know who Batman is."
Melinda sighed heavily. "Do you know how many people have called us since this morning, all claiming they know who Batman is?"
"Quite a lot, I presume."
"Look, Melinda. If you hang up on me, I'll call Gotham Times, if they do the same thing, I will call another news source until I find someone who will listen to me. Then, my dear, you will be known as the girl who lost the biggest break-through in our decade for the rest of your life. It's your call."
The receptionist stayed silent for a while then said, "I'll check if Mr. Engels is available."
She nodded, smiling at the phone, "Smart girl."
It took just few hours to sit in front of Engels, sipping a very old Chardonnay. She took another sip from her glass and set it on the table. "Well, that was lovely—"She licked the residue of the wine on her lips with the tip of her tongue and followed Engels's stare toward her lips. "Quite lovely," she repeated. "But I'd really like to state all of our terms right now."
"Always a lawyer, aren't you?"
She laughed, shaking her head. "I prefer to take that as a compliment, Mr. Engels."
He barked out a laugh. "No love for the job, huh?"
Cameron shrugged. "It was my father's dream."
"Ah—"Engels said then cleared his throat. "Well then, are you going to tell me who he is?"
She shook her head again. "I am afraid I can't do that. But as a proof of my good will, I might be willing to stretch the terms of payment a little bit. Half payment in advance in a Swiss bank account, and the rest after the show."
His flirtatious attitude gone, Engels seemed now like as a sharp businessman. "No down payment, and no Swiss accounts. We'll pay after the show, if your intel is good. I'm already taking quite a risk just putting you on air."
"No," she objected tersely. "How can I trust that you will honor your word?"
"How can I trust that what you claim to know is true and that you are not someone who is just after a 'fifteen-minutes' fame?" He leaned back and crossed his arms. "Well, instincts. Mine are telling me that you're good—not quite what you seem, but a girl's gotta have her secrets. Now, tell me, what yours telling you?"
With one finger, she twirled a lock of hair around, and sniffed. "Please, it wouldn't be just fifteen minutes." Then she noticed it. That was it; a lot of her personality was creeping into Cameron's. It was high time to finish this, send Cameron into graveyard, and find some remote place in which no one had even heard of Gotham City and start anew.
"When I appear on TV, it wouldn't be just fifteen minutes." Her lips pulled into a soft grimace as her face puckered as if she had eaten something rotten. "My fa—my father taught me that sometimes in order to reach our goals we have to make sacrifices. He could be very proud now." She stood up, and went to close deal. She offered her hand. "All right, Mr. Engels. I've decided to trust you. I believe you'll honor your word." If they lived in a perfect world, that could have been enough. But they weren't. And even though they had been, they still wouldn't be perfect people. So she held his hand tight in her grasp. "But if you won't—" She looked directly into his eyes, "Then I'll go to 'Times and tell them quite entertaining stories about you. And I guarantee you that unlike this time they won't be all true." Her gaze fell down, toward their tangled hands and fixed on the gold band around his finger. "You are married, Mr. Engels, aren't you?"
And yes, he was married, married to money, she had searched. Engels nodded, fixing her a dirty glare and she lifted her head, broke their tangled hands, and smiled back.
From the camera's small screen, she decided that she looked good. A dark chocolate, high waist pencil skirt, a cream colored, silken blouse, a pair of good imitation Louboutins-soon that would be changing-to match the blouse… She looked classy, alluring, attractive. Yes, it definitely wouldn't just be fifteen minutes; she looked really good on TV.
The assistant started to count down from five. Lifting his head up from his notes, Engels measured her with heavy eyes. Five, four... "Ok, prepare yourself. I'll have callers. Things might get bumpy." Three...
..Two... She gave him a smile. "I'm always prepared, Mr. Engels." One…On air...
"All right—" he barked out, more to her than Gotham, "—Gotham, we are back. And, look, we have already a call."
A crispy voice boomed into studio. "I wanna know how much they're gonna pay you to say who Batman really is."
Ah…first call bringing the love already… "That's not why I'm doing this," she answered directly to camera, widening her eyes just a fraction to give herself an innocent look.
Engels interrupted the caller and took a second. "Caller, you are on air."
"Harvey Dent didn't want us to give in to this maniac—you think you know better than him?"
She wanted to sigh but held her posture placidly. Then Engels played dirty. "You know, guy's got a point." She snapped her head to him, suppressing the urge to narrow her eyes. "Harvey Dent didn't want Batman to give in. Is this the right thing to do?"
She gave him a small tense smile, and tried to look heavy hearted, and rueful. "If we could talk to him now, he might feel differently—"
"And we wish him a speedy recovery. God knows we need him now more than ever," he interrupted her flatly as she momentarily entertained herself with very vivid, very colorful images what to do with him once this was over. "We have another call."
The greasy voice of an old woman filled the studio. "Ms. Reese, what's more valuable: one life, or a hundred?"
Taken aback, she straightened and grinned a little to the cameras. "I guess…that depends…whose life are we talking about?"
"Let's assume it's yours. Is it worth more than the lives of several hundreds of others?"
Her gaze skipped toward Engels, "Is this a trick question?"
"No," the woman answered flatly. "Is it worth more?"
She shook her head seriously this time. "Of course not."
"I'm so glad you feel that way," the woman said, sighing loudly. "Because I've got a bomb in one of the city's hospitals. It's going off in sixty minutes unless someone kills you."
She looked around. "Is this some sort of joke?
A high pitched laugh burst into the studio. "Joke's on you."
"Who is this?" Engels asked finally, getting out of his stupor.
"Just a concerned citizen—"Her voice dropped into a very familiar pitch. "—and a regular guy." She could recognize that voice from everywhere, so could everyone in Gotham nowadays. "I had a dream, Ms. Reese. Of a world without Batman. Mob ground out a little profit and the police tried to shut them down, one block a time—and it was so…boring." She felt herself getting tense and that knowing look on her face was turning to worry.
"I've had a change of heart. I don't want Ms. Reese spoiling everything, but why should I have all fun? Let's give someone else a chance—"
Jesus, she thought.
"If Cameron Reese isn't dead in sixty minutes, then I'll blow up a hospital," he paused just for a millisecond, "Of course, you could always kill yourself, but that would be noble. And you are a lawyer."
Then, God, she thought again.
She had never been much of a God person, Cathleen had it seen that too, among other things, but still she couldn't simply think past those two words. She was accustomed to being disliked and she knew for a fact that more than one person would be really happy to get their hands on her but this…this was different. People were going to take his words seriously. And who wouldn't? He was many things, but a liar he was not.
Not for the first time since she had come to Gotham, she asked herself how she could have gotten into this mess. Unfortunately for that she had no one other but herself to blame. She had brought this on herself, with her greed and pride, she had brought this on herself. She should have been much better than this.
What could she do now? What could be done? Think! She ordered herself, think!
Run. That was expectedly her first reaction. But to where?
Analyze the situation, find some back up.
That was the problem: who could help her now? Police…? It was better to close eyes and ask for a miracle; and probably more effective too. No, the police couldn't help her. The Joker was going to play with them like a cat with a mouse. And that was what she was, a mouse…a pitiful mouse. There was only one person who could help, who would dare to help her against the Joker. The man she had planned to steal from, the man she had blackmailed, the man she had tried to expose to the public just a few seconds ago. For all she knew, Bruce Wayne might just send a fruit basket to the Joker when she was finished.
Her eyes started to burn and she shook her head, get a grip, get a grip. No. She wasn't going to sit there in self-pity, awaiting her death in front of all those people, no, no she was not. It was only then, pulling herself out of shock, worry, and momentary self-pity, she saw that everything around her was in chaos.
Once a small room with a handful number of crew now the studio was full of people, still pouring in from others in the building. She stood up and walked toward Engels.
"You need to get the hell out of here…"He took her elbow and started to drag her toward exit. She pulled her arm out of his grip.
His assistant came toward her, running. "Ms. Reese. It's for you. The Commissioner..."
She took a deep breath and braced herself. "Ca-Cameron Reese." She tried to sound even but her voice faltered.
"This is Commissioner Gordon. Stay put and do not go anywhere. We'll come to get you."
"No. A lot of people are around here. And they keep coming," she talked fast, looking around. "I'm getting out."
"No. Stay put. We've already sealed the doors."
"Is this your phone?"
"I'll call you later." With a flick of her wrist, the phone was closed.
Her face set she started to walk with a decisive pace. "Where are you going?" Engels called after her.
The phone rang but she didn't answer. Coming out in a large corridor, she ran along the wall. The corridor was in uproar much like the studio, people running in every direction. She wondered how many of them had friends, family, acquaintances that were in hospitals, and thought how much they would be panicked now, enough to try the Joker's proposal. She kept her head down, running.
The pencil skirt didn't let her run fast though, legs couldn't get apart much with the tight hem around her knees. She cursed under her breath. God, she really hated skirts going down under her hips.
The phone rang again. "Yes," she barked out.
"Where are you?"
"Second floor, the left corridor. Where are you?"
"Stay put. We're coming for you."
She threw herself into the restroom on her left and locked the door behind her. "I entered the restroom. The hall's really crowded. Can't you run them off?"
"Don't—have time," the Commissioner's voice came out haltingly and she could hear voices in the background.
"Second floor, left corridor, women's restroom. I'm waiting."
She didn't wait, of course. The windows were looking out of the back side of the building but the heightened second floor wasn't a good place to jump from if you didn't have a death wish. Swearing loudly to the idiot that had drawn the plans, she slammed the window closed.
She sighed…then heard voices outside the restroom, and threw herself one of the toilets. Then, she waited. Of course.
When Gordon found her she was crouched on top of the toilet, her knees touching her breasts, arms encircling them, shoes were dangling from her fingers. She knew she looked pitiful, and she didn't care.
"There you are—"the Commissioner pulled her to her feet. "Hurry up. We need to get going."
She nodded, throwing the shoes away, and let him lead her through the building barefoot. She was spent. The adrenaline that had helped her get out was quickly fleeing too. She needed to do something, get herself out of the building, out of this mess, out of Gotham; preferably in one piece. If only she could have reached her stash and retrieved the emergency kit. Inside it were only things she needed to run away. But the way was literally full of roadblocks. She thought with her last bit of humor, that it looked ridiculously like a Mario platformer game. Jesus, she screwed up big this time.
They built a wall from bodies around her as she was dragged out of the building. The first thing she felt was wind, floating through her hair. The next second she noticed the crowd, yelling, screaming, trying to approach her. Then a round of rifle fire silenced all other sounds. She turned toward the sound on reflex, and saw a man, a man that in other times she could have thought nice, was trying to shoot her. A police officer jumped on him before he could get off the second round and Gordon pulled her tighter to his side. He opened the back door of the van and shoved her inside.
"He tried to shoot me," she stated the obvious for reasons she couldn't fathom at the moment.
"Well, maybe Batman can save you," the Commissioner answered ironically and it wasn't lost on her.
She knew he was going to try his chances before the message arrived to the Commissioner. She thought the Commissioner knew it too, but he regarded the message as a bad omen anyway. "Son, I'm going to have to ask for your weapon," he said, reaching for the gun, but the man pointed it at her face. She looked at barrel blankly, wanting to scream at the fool to stop dawdling and jump the guy already.
She was short on luck today though. "Why, because I've got a wife in the hospital?" His voice sounded at the border of breakdown, his grip on the metal shaking.
Her gaze flicked toward outside, judging her chances. The lights were red, she could jump out—then lights turned green. Cursing her luck mentally, she straightened her back, readying her body to leap upon the man, but Gordon beat her to it, finally making his move for the gun, and as she watched the fighting men out of the corner of her eyes she saw a car, a massive SUV approaching them at top speed.
Then at that moment she got it. She was not going to make out from this. Not this time.
She closed her eyes, and waited the end come—
—A crash, the impact threw her to the ground.
A few seconds later, pinned under the Commissioner she realized he was asking her something. "Are you all right?" she registered it the second time.
She stared at him blankly but he seemed to take her lack of response as affirmative because he opened the door, pulled himself and the patrol man out with him. Alone, she poked out her head out of the corner of the door and started to get things into perspective. In a millisecond another car had come in between them.
She got out and looked at the other car. A silver Lamborghini now totaled. She turned left slowly, and barely a few feet away from her, crouching beside his car, she saw Him.
All of the sounds around her gone silent as his gaze found hers across of the hundreds of people. Stuck for an unnamable time, unable to turn her gaze away, unable to move an inch, she just looked back at him.
Edited as 11.03.13: Finally did the last cleaning for the first chap with help of Gilva Lepista.