1. Two Sides of the Same
[December 1, 2014]
Bruce Wayne was rubbing his temples. He had not pictured beginning December in a roadside diner just outside of Gotham City at one-o-clock in the morning. He wearily gazed at Harvey Dent across the table. Harvey was in a better mood than he had ever seen him in, free of both his extreme anger and his looming depression. He was eating a cheeseburger and fries, drinking soda for the second time in twenty-four hours. Bruce wondered where the trim man put it all.
"Do you plan on going home at all tonight?" Bruce asked. "It's already the next day, you know?"
"December already, huh?" Harvey remarked. "How about that?"
"Harvey, are we going to talk?"
"What's there to say?" Harvey shrugged. "It is what it is. Or, if you prefer, it was what it was. Why worry about it?"
"Why worry about it?" Bruce echoed in disbelief. "Why worry about it? Harvey, we—"
Harvey lifted a hand. His eyes shifted around the room, empty as it was.
"No offense, Bruce, but I don't want to go around in public talking about it," he explained. "One cellphone recording of a juicy sound bite, that's all it takes to ruin a man these days."
"You didn't want to talk about it in the car, either," Bruce said under his breath.
"Let's just keep it simple, okay?" Harvey said. "I have enough complications in my life without—" He lowered his voice. "—you makin' a big deal out of a one-night stand in your fancy car."
"All right," Bruce allowed. He watched Harvey. "You're okay?"
"Why? Thought you'd broken me?" Harvey chuckled softly. "It was rough, but it wasn't that rough."
"I meant with the situation," Bruce said, slightly impatient. "No regrets?"
"Ha, ha, no," Harvey said certainly. "Oh no. Definitely no regrets. You?"
Bruce's face warmed. He wanted to regret it. He knew that he should regret it, but …
"I regret what we did, but not what we had."
"Good, so that's that," Harvey grinned. "Now can I finish my burger, please?"
Bruce nodded, and turned to the window. His smile faded. The Bat Signal shone high in the sky, blazing from its spotlight at the Gotham Police Department. He looked at Harvey, back at the symbol. What now?
Fortunately, Alfred had anticipated the problem. He entered the diner. Harvey raised his eyebrows at the driver in full uniform, and gave Bruce a cynical smirk. Bruce ignored him.
"Sir, I'm afraid that there is an emergency with the company," Alfred told Bruce. "Your immediate attention is required."
"I'm sorry, Harvey, I have to see to this," Bruce said, standing. "Do you want me to drop you off at home first?"
"Nah, I'll get a cab," Harvey said, waving him off. "Go, go. I'm fine. I'm … better than fine. I'm good."
Bruce studied him closely, but Harvey really did seem to be content. He briefly squeezed his shoulder, and then left. It would be too much of a risk to give the politician a kiss, even in this dead-end diner.
"Thank you, Alfred," Bruce said outside.
Alfred gave him a look.
"I know," Bruce said. "Out of the frying pan and into the fire."
"Succinctly put, sir."
One week ago, Jim Gordon had been incapacitated by a bullet from the renowned assassin known as 'Deadshot'; Deadshot turned out to be Bruce Wayne's former lover and ex-Marine sniper Floyd Lawton. Batman had tracked the crime to its source: General Walter Halloran, the father of one of Bruce's oldest friends, who had hired Deadshot to assassinate a terrorist-turned-informant known as Kassan Shadid, in an effort to alienate the United States from the Middle East and possibly start another major war.
Bruce had been thrown into emotional turmoil as he tried to stop the scheduled assassination. For a moment, he had doubted that his life had room for both Batman and Bruce Wayne. He had managed to convince General Halloran to end the contract, but only by using his own son, Bruce's childhood friend Robert Halloran, against him. There had been no way of publicly proving Halloran's role in the assassination attempt, and Deadshot had disappeared from Gotham City. It had not been a loss, but it had not been a win, either.
"It was one time, and Harvey is fine with that," Bruce said, more to himself than to Alfred. He stared out the car window at the streets going by. "No one ever has to know."
"Do you honestly believe that it will turn out that way, sir?"
"I have to make it turn out that way," Bruce said firmly. "This has to be my last moment of weakness. I put everything on the line for Floyd Lawton, let him take all of my heart and tear it apart. I can't make that mistake again."
"Haven't you already made it, sir?"
Bruce's lips tightened into a grim line.
"Caring about Harvey Dent isn't a mistake," he said. "He isn't like Lawton, he's not a murderer, not a criminal. He's a good man. We'll be friends, even if we can't be lovers. It's different. It has to be different, even if that's difficult. I can't sacrifice my purpose here anymore. I have to put Bruce Wayne aside. I had lost sight of that, but it's clear now."
"You've always been given to such extremes, sir," Alfred told him. "You do not have to choose between an arduous life or an easy one. Find a man, someone without so many complications attached. What about Mr. Halloran? He's always had a crush on you."
"Bobby?" Bruce said, eyebrows raised. "I had no idea you were shipping us, Alfred."
"I 'ship' you with anyone other than your usual type, sir," Alfred said. "When you were in high school, you used to fret about your sexuality making your life difficult. It is hardly your preference for men that gives you such difficulty, however; it is the sort of man you're inclined towards that is causing you such pain."
"Bobby isn't exactly a better sort, Alfred," Bruce pointed out. "He's a soft boy that's addicted to living hard: partying, drugs, alcohol. Bobby is as complicated as they come."
"Though not nearly so complicated as a sadomasochistic assassin, sir," Alfred pointed out, referencing Floyd Lawton. "Nor as complicated as a married and possibly bipolar District Attorney, I imagine."
"That is true," Bruce said, almost cringing at the blunt descriptions of his recent lovers. "I don't know about Bobby, though. Don't get me wrong, Bobby is very cute, but he's … "
"Not dangerous enough for you?"
Bruce looked at Alfred, and then put the glass dividing the front and back of the car up. Alfred chuckled to himself, cut off from the boss that he had raised. At least the discussion would get Bruce thinking, which was not an activity he had been engaged in recently.
"You're not Gordon."
Edward Nashton whirled around in alarm. He had not seen a single shadow move on the GCPD rooftop, but suddenly Batman was behind him. It was disconcerting for the genius to be taken off guard; such an event rarely occurred. He gathered his temporarily scattered wits quickly, and straightened up.
"Er, no, no, I'm … I'm the head of the GCPD's Information Technologies department." The redhead extended a hand. "Edward Nashton."
Batman glared at him, ignoring the proffered hand. A bit abashed, Edward lowered his arm. He lifted a folder in his other hand. "Gordon thought that I should give you this, and—"
Edward's green eyes flickered, and he narrowed them. How could the Batman have seen through him so easily? He had always prided himself on being an exceptional liar—no, that was too crass, he was an exceptional manipulator of information.
"What? What do you mean? Why would I be lying to you?"
Batman loomed on him. It took all of Edward's strength of will not to take a step back. He looked up at the taller figure steadily, trying to read the fabled crime-fighter. His glasses were wired with a tiny camera, discreetly set into the black frame, and he was recording everything. Though Batman wore a mask, it was molded to his facial structure, and Edward thought he might be able to use the images to make a composite model for facial recognition later.
"Gordon is the only one with access up here," Batman said. "If there is anything he needs me to know, he would tell me himself."
"Er … Well, honestly, I wanted to come up here and give this file to you personally," Edward said, feigning a nervous smile. "I'm a bit of a fan, and—"
"You don't believe me?" Edward asked, temper rising. "Why not? What reason could I possibly have for lying to—Hey!"
Batman took a tight grip on his wrist, and pulled him closer. For the first time, a dash of fear cut through Edward's confidence.
"A fan would be emotional, either impressed or disappointed, nervous, expectant," Batman told him, his thumb on the pulse point of the man's wrist. He could feel his pulse through sensors in his gloves. "You've been collected, confident, and you're not assessing me with any kind of preconceived expectations. Even now, you're relatively calm despite a slight reaction of fear."
Batman released him. Edward did step back this time, rubbing his wrist. He collected himself, and smiled.
"Well, don't expect me to be impressed," he said. "This was an easy test."
"You don't want to test me, Nashton."
"Oh, but I do," Edward said. "I suppose you've figured out who I am by now?"
"The idiot that hijacked the Gotham Tree."
At Gotham City's annual Frost Ball the past evening, someone had manipulated the Gotham Tree's lights during the lighting ceremony to spell out the phrase: "Who Is Batman?". Batman knew by now that Edward Nashton had been hired by dirty detective Harvey Bullock to provide the answer to that mystery.
"I am in no way an 'idiot'," Edward said tightly. "It was a bit of a spectacle, I admit, but I wanted to get your attention. Do I have your attention, Batman?"
In answer to his question, Batman grabbed him by the front of his green jacket. He whirled him to the edge of the roof and held him halfway over it. Edward's feet slipped on the rooftop concrete, held up nearly off the ground by the back of his jacket and his belt. His arms flailed over thin air.
"Y-you wouldn't!" the man exclaimed, his smugness dashed away. "I've researched you! You don't kill people!"
"Do you think anyone really knows everything I do?"
He threw him off the roof. It was a bit cruel, but Batman wanted to scare Nashton off as expediently as possible. Edward was very bright, and having a man like him on the hunt for Batman's identity was dangerous.
Batman swung down on the line of his grappling gun, and caught Nashton in mid-scream, several stories down. He got a firm grip on the man, and swung up to a neighboring rooftop, lower than the GCPD's. He kept his hold on the man, and slammed him against the nearest wall. Edward's green eyes were wide, and he was shaking and pale.
"You were nothing but a thief and a hacker when Gordon caught you, 'eNigma'," Batman growled at the man, using Nashton's online handle. "He could have thrown you in prison, but instead he took pity on you. He offered you a job at the GCPD. He gave you a future. He put his faith and trust in you. This is how you repay him? By going after me for a dirty cop like Bullock?"
"I haven't done anything more illegal than you have!" Edward protested, struggling. "But just because Gordon trusts you doesn't mean that I have to! And I'm not just doing this for Bullock! You're a mystery, a puzzle! A conundrum wrapped in an enigma inside of a Chinese box! I don't care about the money! I want to solve this! I want to solve you, Batman."
Batman was surprised that Edward was not so easily deterred. He slammed him again, holding him a few inches off the floor. Edward squeaked, his hands uselessly gripping Batman's gloves, his feet kicking.
"I will solve the puzzle!" Edward told him. His eyes were defiant, almost manic. "You can use whatever brute tactics you want against me, but I won't stop. I'll find out who's under that mask, Batman, one way or the other!"
Bruce had to stifle the urge to sigh. This was not the kind of problem he needed right now. He threw Edward aside, and the man landed hard on the floor.
"Stay out of my way," Batman told Edward, kneeling beside him. He took the man by his coppery hair. "If you don't want Gordon to know about the blackmail, the hacking, the information you've kept from him, then give this up. You'll lose everything, Edward, and for what?"
"For the ultimate p-prize," Edward said, wincing as he felt his hair being yanked nearly from the roots. "Knowledge is power, isn't it? Imagine having that much power over the Batman!"
To Batman's dismay, Edward actually laughed. Batman really did not know what to do with him, so he only scowled. Nashton was an annoying know-it-all, but not violent. It wouldn't be right to hurt him simply for being a pain in the ass.
"Ha ha ha! Let Gordon fire me!" Edward laughed carelessly. "No one at the GCPD ever appreciated me, anyway. But if I find out who you are, I'll be the most valuable informant in the city. I'll be a legend! And more practically, how many people do you think would gladly name my price to have the answer to Gotham's greatest mystery?"
On second thought, he was very annoying. Batman's fist curled, but then he saw someone over on the GCPD roof. Gordon. He released Edward's hair, dragging him to his feet by the arm.
"There's the Commissioner now," he said. "Why don't we pay him a visit and let him know just how active eNigma really has been on the dark net as of late?"
"That's blackmail," Edward complained, though he looked troubled. "I was expecting something more from you, Batman. I thought you had more brain cells in your belfry. I thought you were more … well, like me."
Batman's eyes narrowed at him, interested by the hurt in his voice. The confidence had faded the moment Batman had threatened to expose him to Gordon. Batman realized that Edward made up for his many insecurities with overconfidence, and had a compulsive need to impress those he admired. He almost felt sorry for him.
Nonetheless, Batman dragged the reluctant man onto the ledge of the roof, and took a tight hold on him. He shot the hook out to the ledge of the GCPD, and swung them both up. Edward tried to bolt once his feet touched the floor, but Batman kept a hold on him by the back of his jacket.
"That you?" Gordon asked, coming around. "I saw the light and—Edward?"
"Someone's idea of a practical joke," Batman explained. He flung Edward in Gordon's direction. "Nashton?"
"I was just curious to meet the famous Dark Knight," Edward said defensively. He straightened his clothing and glasses. "It certainly didn't warrant being thrown off of a roof."
Gordon raised an eyebrow. Batman offered no explanation or apology.
"Well, don't do it again," Gordon told Edward. "As I think you've learned for yourself, Batman doesn't exactly have the best sense of humor."
"Duly noted," Edward said dryly. He glanced between the two men. "Well, I've had enough excitement for one night, I'm calling it. I have things to work on, after all. Puzzles to solve."
With that, he opened the door to the roof and then tromped down the stairs back into the GCPD. Gordon and Batman were silent a minute.
"You don't actually trust that man, do you?" Batman asked.
"Not one bit," Gordon said heavily. "He can be useful, though, and he's not evil. It's better to have the hacker 'eNigma' on your side than against it, believe me. It's his middle name, you know: Nigma. Gives you an idea of what kind of parents he had."
Batman could tell that Gordon had taken Edward under his wing and still wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. He hoped Edward would not disappoint the man too badly. He decided to give Nashton one more chance before he told Gordon what he was really up to.
"Anyway, I'm glad you're here," Gordon said. "Gilda Dent called me. She's worried because Harvey hasn't come home yet. He's a grown man and all, but … Well, I've been trying to call him, and with all the threats he's been getting … "
Bruce felt a wash of guilt.
"I'll find him. Stay here. I think the three of us should talk."
"I've been thinking the same thing lately," Gordon agreed. "Thanks, Batman."
Bruce wondered if Gordon would be so grateful if he knew he was the one that had kept Harvey away from home all night. He somewhat doubted it.
Harvey Dent was loathe to return to Gotham City. He lingered in the diner outside the city limits for a while, and then left on foot. He kept his phone powered off. It was a cold, crisp night, and for the first time in a long time, he was content. The moment he returned home and looked into his wife's beautiful dark eyes, he knew the guilt would come. He knew that he would hate himself for going behind her back—and with Bruce Wayne, no less! He knew that he would look in the mirror and be able to feel nothing but disgust with himself. He knew that he would hate himself. But all that could come later, right now he only wanted to enjoy this detached feeling of rebellion.
It was more than that, Harvey thought. I stepped outside myself.
After all, could that really have been him, making love to billionaire Bruce Wayne in the back of his car? How could he have even kissed him, kissed Bruce Wayne, the prince of Gotham? How could he have given everything over to him, let him so far in?
Yet it had been him, there was no question of that. Harvey still felt the sensation of Bruce's warm, smooth lips on his neck, the surprisingly strong touch of his hands pressed against his chest, wrapped around his waist, squeezing his thigh. He remembered the surprise of tearing open Bruce's shirt, the steel-hard muscles coiled under his hot skin. He remembered putting his lips to them, the shudder of the younger man's body. How old was Bruce, anyway? He had to be considerably younger than Harvey, though Harvey had never particularly thought of him that way. Bruce had a maturity about him, despite his rich background and younger age.
The sound of a powerful engine revving broke Harvey from his drifting thoughts. He looked up, and stopped short as a long, black car drove onto the street in front of him. It looked to be part tank, part jet, and part sports car. His mouth opened, but he did not quite know what to say about this apparition.
The window slid open, and a voice demanded, "Get in."
Harvey blinked. Though Gordon had told him that he sometimes worked with the Batman, though the newspapers told of all his exploits, though he had seen arrests made due to Batman's work, he had never quite believed that the costumed legend was real. It had been two years now, but he could hardly believe his eyes.
The passenger door opened, Harvey's shirt was grabbed, and he was pulled inside. The door shut behind him, and locked. The car the cops cynically dubbed the 'Batmobile' revved again, and zoomed off into the night.
"What's the big idea?" Harvey asked irritably, once he found his tongue. "You running a taxi service now? Crime-fighting business that bad?"
"Gordon sent me to find you," Batman said. He tried not to think that just a few hours ago, he had had Harvey Dent in another car, doing other things. "We need to talk."
"It couldn't wait until I got my phone back on?" Harvey complained. "Ever think a guy might have a reason for being out of touch?"
"Your wife was worried," Batman said, and Bruce instantly regretted it.
Harvey looked surprised, and Bruce could see the guilt creeping over his face. So, he had regrets after all. Bruce's heart tightened.
"Oh," Harvey said. He looked out the window. "Oh. All right."
Batman pressed the side of his mask, over the ear. "Gordon? Yes, I found him. He's with me. Let Mrs. Dent know that we'll be at the GCPD."
Harvey was staring at Batman by the time the call ended. Would he recognize the mouth he had spent the better part of last night kissing? Would he make the connection? Batman did not want to find out.
"What?" Harvey shook himself out of his thoughts. He took the seat belt and fastened it around himself. "Oh, right. So … are you and Gordon letting me into your little club? Is there a secret handshake I need to learn or something?"
Batman ignored him.
"You're not even going to ask where I've been?"
"Gordon trusts you."
"And that's enough for you to trust me?"
Batman looked sidelong at him. "For now."
Message received, jerk, Harvey thought as he settled back in the passenger seat. He looked around the interior of the sleek car, from back to front. The seats were comfortable, perfectly aligned, and made of buttery but tough black leather. Besides the seat belts, there were harness-like straps that reminded Harvey of air carrier safety. The dashboard was a highly complex array of dials, knobs, digital displays, and buttons. Harvey fiddled with them, until Batman noticed and hit his hand away.
"Hey! Jeez, I was just trying to get the radio on," Harvey muttered, though he left the dashboard alone. "You're not a very sociable person, are you?"
Bruce could still smell traces of his cologne on Harvey's skin.
"You're not going to even take off that mask?"
"Does Jim know who you are?"
"Did he ever ask?"
"You ever going to tell him? Or anyone?"
"You say anything other than 'no'?"
"It must be nice, having a second life. I bet you could get away with anything in that mask. Does your family know that you're Batman?"
Batman did not reply.
"Must be nice, being two people," Harvey repeated softly. He looked out the window again, and fell silent.
All Bruce Wayne wanted was to take him in his arms again, and never let him go. Batman was grateful that the car was fast. They arrived at the GCPD not long after. Batman exited the car, and Harvey followed. On the street, Harvey gave the Batmobile a long, impressed look over. He was amused by the fact that he had been in two fancy cars in one night, though the powerful Batmobile was a far cry from Bruce Wayne's considerate little electric car.
"Aren't you worried about someone stealing the—"
The car locked itself down: black plating covered every window, every door locked and then was covered over by an impenetrable panel. Batman looked at Harvey, and then shot his grappling hook and swung upwards and away. Harvey stared after him.
"—car," he finished lamely. "Christ."
Harvey went into the GCPD, and took the elevator up. On the roof, Batman and Gordon were waiting.
"You could have given me a lift up, you know," Harvey told Batman.
Batman had considered it. He had not wanted to hold Harvey so close, for fear of the touch being recognized despite his costume. He did not, of course, explain this to Harvey.
"You could have left your phone on," Gordon chided Harvey. "Where the hell were you all night? Gilda called me, she thought the worst had happened. I had to tell her the truth, that I hadn't seen you since the Frost Ball."
"I drank too much," Harvey said. "I decided to dry out before going home. I was with a friend."
"Who?" Gordon asked suspiciously. "You hardly have any friends, Harvey."
Harvey did not answer the question. He turned to Batman.
"What did we have to talk about?"
"I think we should let Batman in on the Holiday case," Gordon answered. "We're nowhere closer to catching this killer, and we have another holiday coming up: Christmas."
"Of all the cases to solve, you want to focus on that one?" Harvey muttered. "Holiday is doing us a favor. I don't see why … "
Gordon was glaring at Harvey. Harvey cleared his throat and shut up.
"Holiday?" Batman inquired. "You mean the recent spate of Falcone organization murders?"
"Yes," Gordon replied. "On Halloween this year, someone took out Carmine Falcone's nephew and suspected hitman, Johnny Viti. He was shot twice with a .22 caliber pistol, silenced with a baby bottle nipple. We thought it was a one-time hit, but on Thanksgiving, several of Falcone's top lieutenants were all shot in the same fashion."
"And I'm telling you, it's a favor," Harvey interjected. He had suffered a beating at Johnny Viti's wedding the previous summer. "Couldn't happen to nicer people. Let this guy blow through the Falcone empire one holiday at a time. Who cares?"
"Damn it, Harvey, I'm sick of hearing things like that come out of your mouth! We'll all care when these hits ignite a mob war!" Gordon snapped. "There's already been talk in the Falcone organization about retaliation against the one they suspect to be behind it all, Salvatore Maroni. This boils over, and a lot of people will be hurt, including innocent people, Harvey."
"Or not," Harvey shot back.
"Gordon is right," Batman said. "Besides, I don't think taking a closer look at the mob families in Gotham will do any harm."
"You got a point there, I guess," Harvey said, his temper cooling as quickly as it had been roused. His hands slid smoothly into his pockets. "Chain of evidence be damned, if you find anything on those animals, I'll take it."
"I'll see what I can learn."
"But if you do find this Holiday killer," Harvey said, "shake their hand for me, would you?"
Gordon shut his eyes, squeezing the bridge of his nose beneath his glasses.
"Harvey … That mouth of yours is going to be the death of me, and your career, if you're not careful."
Batman jumped off the roof, and was gone. Harvey turned on his heels to leave, but Gordon opened his eyes just then. He lunged and took his friend by the arm.
"You're not going to get on me for defending Holiday, are you?" Harvey asked. "What can I say? That I'm sorry there's a few less mob scumbags in the world? I'm not!"
"Never mind that for now," Gordon said impatiently. "Where were you tonight? You know how worried Gilda gets. I was worried. With all the enemies you have, do you really think it's a good idea to be wandering around Gotham alone and out of reach?"
"So I'll leave my phone on next time," Harvey said, snatching his arm away. "I don't see the big deal, dad."
"I'm just worried about you," Gordon said. "You haven't been the same since winning the election. Gilda was frantic. Who were you with tonight, Harvey?"
"None of your business."
"Don't give me that crap!" Gordon said, more tired than angry. "I gave you all of my support to get you into the DA's office. I fought like hell for you. You're thirty-three and the youngest District Attorney the city has had in years. Don't tell me you've come this far just to screw everything up now?"
"I'm not screwing anything up," Harvey assured him. "I needed to get away for a minute, that's all. I'm fine now. Really. The goddamn holidays will be over soon, and we're going to be back to working on what matters. Fighting the good fight, yeah?"
Gordon did not look convinced. Harvey hit his shoulder reassuringly. Gordon looked down, lifted his head, then looked down again.
"Where's your wedding band?"
"I … I dropped it," Harvey said, sliding his hands into his pockets to hide his ring-less finger. "At the Frost Ball. I told you, I had too much to drink."
"Here, borrow mine." He took it off and handed it to Harvey. "Should be about the same size. Gilda has enough to worry about without … Just get yourself a new one tomorrow, okay?"
"Okay. Thanks, Jim."
"Just don't disappear like that again, all right?"
Harvey blushed faintly.
"I won't. Sorry, Jim. I really am sorry."
"All right." Gordon squeezed his shoulder. "Go home now. Get some sleep."
"You too. Night, Jim."
"Good night, Harvey."
Harvey did not go straight home. The GCPD locker rooms were empty, and so he used them to shower. He kept a spare set of clothing in his briefcase, and changed into them. He was very aware of Gordon's ring on his finger, cold and alien despite being the same kind of plain gold band that he usually wore. He could feel his infidelity burning through it, and he almost took it off.
He would have done anything to escape going home that night, but there was nothing to be done. Gilda was awake, and she threw herself into his arms right at the door. The familiar soft, thin weight in his arms and the smell of love and home almost broke him. He held her close, forcing everything else out of his mind.
"I was so worried," Gilda said quietly. She kept a hold on her husband's arm as he shut the door and walked further into the living room. "You didn't call me back, and I thought … It's so silly of me, I know. I'm sorry."
"No, you have nothing to apologize for," Harvey said. "It was stupid to turn my phone off. I won't do it again. I promise."
Harvey tipped her face up to look at her. She kissed him, and he kissed her back forcefully. They sat on the sofa, she almost on his lap, he smelling her hair.
"Have you been up all this time?" Harvey asked. "Did you do all this packing?"
"I didn't know what else to do," Gilda said sheepishly. "Is it too early to pack? You said you were going to buy a house if you won the election, but I know that was just—"
"I meant it," Harvey said firmly. "No, I meant that. We're going to have a house and a family, just like I always told you we would, honey."
Gilda smiled, kissed the side of his mouth. He held her knee in his hand, and was relieved to see that he really was forgetting about the interlude with Bruce. It was almost as if it were something that had happened to another person.
"Oh, I almost forgot."
Gilda slid off the sofa and went to an open box. She searched around a bit, and then picked something out of it. She came over to Harvey, the item on the palm of her hand.
"I remember you said this was your father's. I was putting away some of the stuff in the basement and I found it. I thought you might want to hold onto it so it doesn't get lost in the move."
Harvey's smile froze in place, looking like the last expression of a corpse now in rigor mortis. The smile faded, and he covered his mouth with a hand. His dark blue eyes remained on the memento, as he sat back on the sofa away from it. Gilda frowned quizzically.
"Don't you want it?"
Harvey folded his hand over her palm, hiding the keepsake.
"Of course." He forced a smile, and slid the coin into his own hand. The metal was very cold. "Yeah, dad's old double-sided coin. I'll … I'll keep it."
Harvey stood, his face expressionless.
"Listen, it's been a long day," he said mechanically. "We should get to bed. I got to be up early again tomorrow. No rest for the … wicked, right?"
"You're not wicked, darling." Gilda stood on tiptoe to kiss him, and took his hand into her own. "But come on. Let's get you to bed. You look exhausted."
Harvey felt as if he might drop. He held his wife's hand in one hand, the Liberty Dollar in the other, and headed up to bed. He did not sleep very well that night.