Bruce knelt down quickly to help them sit up while simultaneously pulling off the clown mask to reveal blue eyes framed by matted red hair.
As soon as Bruce had ripped off the tape covering her mouth, Rebecca let out a sigh of relief.
"You came." Rebecca breathed.
"Of course." Bruce answered, his gravelly voice but unable to quite hide his relief at finding Rebecca safe even if she wasn't exactly unharmed.
Her lips and the skin of her cheeks were red and chaffed from where she'd apparently been gagged with a rope before she was silenced with the tape. And as Bruce traced down the side of her face to her bound hands, he noticed the blood. Rebecca saw the way his gaze darkened when he saw the deep cut on her hand and she pulled his chin up so he could see her eyes.
"I'm okay." She reassured him. "I'm still here."
Bruce's jaw was tense beneath his mask but he jerked a nod as he cut through her bound wrists and helped her pull off the tape gently so as not to aggravate her wound.
"Gordon is outside." Bruce informed Rebecca as she rubbed her chaffed wrists automatically. He meanwhile tore strips of fabric from the bottom of her shirt and wrapped it carefully around her wounded hand; it was the only available option but thankfully, upon closer inspection, her hand did not seem so severely damaged that she would suffer any long-term repercussions although it was certainly going to leave a horrific scar.
"And SWAT teams are crawling around the building already. There is a group heading up the stairs into an ambush."
"What?" Rebecca looked up from where she'd started pulling off the tape binding her legs. "Do they know the 'clowns' are the hostages?"
Bruce shook his head even as he quickly cut away the tape around Rebecca's ankles. Rebecca's jaw locked with determination.
"Well, leave it to me - I'll handle them. You go after him."
Her tone darkened on the single syllable. Bruce looked back up at her to see fire dancing in Rebecca's eyes. But unlike the wildfire that burned in the Joker's eyes, hers was tempered with restraint and forced down to submit to her will. There was a light where the Joker's was all darkness, and Bruce knew Rebecca would be okay despite the hatred that brewed inside her for her sister's killer.
Bruce pressed a kiss to her temple before he pulled away.
"Use this only if you absolutely must." He said gravely as he handed her one of the dropped guns. She took it with a nod.
"You know I always do."
For a beat, the couple stared at each other. Bruce knew he had to go and she knew she had to let him. But with all the recent chaos, they feared what they would find when they next saw each other. If they next saw each other. Rebecca leaned up and kissed Bruce firmly with every ounce of love she could manage. He returned the sentiment before, as one, they pulled back once more.
"Go." Rebecca whispered. He stared at her for a second longer, his dark eyes fixed on hers.
And with a swirl of his cape, Bruce was gone. Rebecca let out a shaky breath before she cocked the gun she held and quickly made her way to the emergency stairs. Sneaking her way up, she arrived on the floor above right as the SWAT team exited the elevator and started to swarm the 'clowns' who stood in the centre of the abandoned floor.
What the SWAT team missed was the group of so-called hostages that were starting to draw hidden guns, aimed right at the SWAT. Rebecca aimed from her place behind the ambush… and she fired.
The Joker's men yelled in pain as they were forced to drop their guns as bullet after bullet hit each of their hands. The SWAT team swivelled their attention onto the new attacker, but froze when they recognized the red hair and authoritative voice that shouted their way.
"Code blue; the clowns are the hostages! I repeat, it's a trap, the doctors are the targets!"
The Joker's men had started firing at Rebecca's shouts but the SWAT were quick to reciprocate as they understood the situation. General chaos reigned as the SWAT pivoted to protecting the clowns, who tried to shuffle their bound legs and not fall over as they avoided the fighting while the remainder of the Joker's men opened fire. But they were now caught between Rebecca and the SWAT team in a pincer formation with nowhere to go and it wasn't long before they were all detained and unarmed.
"Sergeant Dawes." The head of the SWAT team hurried over to report to her, only to be stopped in his tracks as Rebecca started barking orders.
"Get the floor secured and the stairwells scouted, then get the hostages out of here and to medical attention. Immediately."
The SWAT leader quickly relayed her orders to his team. They bustled about quickly, securing the area while the leader turned back to Rebecca for his next orders. What he wasn't expecting was her verbal lashing.
"You idiots! You attacked without fully analyzing the situation, it was exactly what the Joker wanted! Who gave the order to move in?"
"The… The Commissioner..." The man stuttered.
Rebecca's eyes narrowed and she held out her hand imperiously.
"Give me your comms unit."
"The Commissioner's not there, ma'am." The leader answered hastily although he handed her his comm quickly.
"Then where is he?" Rebecca asked impatiently.
She froze as the other man admitted, "He received an urgent call and had to leave. It seems he might have a lead on Dent."
Rebecca slowly turned her full attention back on the officer who was blissfully unaware of the profundity of his words.
"Where did he go?"
"The burnt warehouse on 52nd where we cleaned up the explosion from the other night." The officer shook his head in disgust. "The Joker's sick to take Dent back there."
But Rebecca was no longer listening.
"Did he go alone?"
"No, he called for a squadron to follow behind him."
Rebecca's mind whirled quickly before she made her decision.
"Lead the hostages out of here and search for any others who might still be left. Don't engage unless you're certain it's one of the Joker's men." She ordered as she turned to leave.
"Ma'am? But what about the Joker-?"
"Someone else is already on that. Get the hostages out of here first, then move in but our priority is the innocent." She shouted back as she raced toward the stairwell.
She had to get to Gordon. He didn't know yet… and neither did Bruce. It was only then that Rebecca realized she hadn't told Bruce about Harvey. She'd been so focused on the Joker above their heads that she'd completely forgotten to warn him.
'No… But there might still be time.' Rebecca tried to rationalize as she streaked down the stairs, almost tripping down the last flight before she caught herself on the railings. 'There might still be a chance to save Harvey… There might still be a way to reach him...'
She kept repeating the words to herself even as she made it out and, ignoring the yells for a medic, shouted for a police car. Because no matter how much she tried to convince herself otherwise, she couldn't ignore the dread pooling in her stomach. Because why would Harvey call Gordon to that warehouse if not to do the unthinkable?
"I said, get me a car!" Rebecca barked, shoving aside the emergency personnel who tried to get her toward an ambulance. "Now, or else I'm arresting everyone here for obstructing justice!"
That got people moving fast. Rebecca pushed her way into the first available squad car, ignoring the worried calls after her. Instead, she stepped on the gas and shot off into the darkened city far above the speed limit.
As she went, she dialed into the emergency phone that was in all the glove compartments of the GPCD police vehicles. Punching in the numbers she'd memorized in case of emergencies like this one, she waited for the other person to pick up. They answered on the first ring.
"Alfred? I have a message for Bruce but ONLY have it relayed when he's done with the Joker."
Meanwhile, Bruce grunted as he was held down by his neck on the ground by the edge of the broken window. The Joker held him down as Bruce struggled, still grinning like a madman even though it took every ounce of his strength to keep Bruce on the ground.
"You know, we really should stop the fighting. Otherwise, we'll miss the fireworks." The Joker said rather conversationally.
"There won't be any fireworks." Bruce growled as he jerked, trying to push the other man off.
The Joker didn't even act like he'd heard Bruce as he lifted his gaze from Bruce to stare out across the harbour where the two escaping ships twinkled like perfect targets on the otherwise black ocean.
"And here… we… go…" The Joker hummed, flicking his fingers in the air like a music conductor as he waited for the explosions to shatter the silence.
Except, it never came. The silence continued and slowly the Joker's smile fell away as he stared out across the way. Unable to believe what all his senses were telling him, he turned and stared at the clock he'd mounted on the steel foundations of the building's floor he'd set up his final lair at. It ticked several seconds past midnight.
"What were you trying to prove?" Bruce rasped, watching as the Joker started to shake with fury. "That, deep down, everyone's as ugly as you?"
The Joker threw aside the pipe he'd been using to hit Bruce earlier in his rage while Bruce continued mercilessly.
The Joker scowled, his lips still twitching. "Can't rely on anyone these days. You gotta do everything yourself. Don't we?"
He reached into his pocket and removed an emergency trigger, like Bruce had known he would have.
"That's okay, I came prepared. It's a funny world we live in. Speaking of which, you know how I got these scars?" He gestured toward the twisted, permanent smile that stretched on either side of his lips.
"No." Bruce answered shortly, uninterested; he had what he wanted. "But I know how you got these."
He released the scallops on his gauntlets, shooting the curved blades right into the Joker's face. The man yelled as he was cut by the sharp metal, and momentarily distracted, he was completely helpless as Bruce kicked up suddenly and threw the Joker over the edge of the building.
Bruce gasped, catching his breath before he turned to lean over the side of the building. The Joker was laughing maniacally as he fell - he really was mad. But Bruce had no intention of giving the Joker the satisfaction he apparently thought he'd earned. Aiming his grapple gun, Bruce fired… and it caught around the Joker's ankle, stopping his fall.
The madman's giggles slowly stopped as he realized what had happened. And, like the true insane creature that he was, he started to whine as Bruce hauled him back up to his level.
The Joker smiled wryly as he hung suspended upside down across from Bruce. He looked almost… admiring.
"You just couldn't let me go, could you?"
Bruce just grunted as he held his injured side with a grimace, and the Joker kept talking with a sigh.
"This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible, aren't you? Hm? You won't kill me, out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won't kill you, because you're just too much fun."
He chuckled, staring at Bruce with those wild, dark eyes.
"I think you and I are destined to do this forever."
"You'll be in a padded cell forever." Bruce retorted and the Joker laughed.
"Maybe we could share one." He suggested gleefully. "You know, they'll be doubling up at the rate this city's inhabitants are losing their minds."
"This city just showed you that it's full of people ready to believe in good." Bruce pointed out.
"Until their spirit breaks completely."
The Joker wagged his finger smugly, and there was an excited twinkle in his eye that made Bruce's heart drop. What had the madman done this time?
"Until they get a good look at the real Harvey Dent, huh? And all the heroic things he's done."
The Joker cackled while Bruce's face slowly filled with dread.
"You didn't think I'd risk losing the battle for Gotham's soul in a fistfight with you?" The Joker smiled, his eyes burning once again. "No… You need an ace in the hole. Mine's Harvey."
"What did you do?" Bruce whispered in horror.
"I took Gotham's White Knight, and I brought him down to our level."
Bruce's lips parted with shock while the Joker continued blithely, "It wasn't hard. See, madness, as you know, is like gravity. All it takes is a little… push!"
The Joker started laughing again, a deranged and ugly sound. But Bruce was done with him; the Joker wasn't going anywhere anymore. The SWATs would take care of him. And Batman had somewhere else he needed to be.
Turning his back on the Joker, Bruce quickly left the cackling man behind as he re-opened his communications unit.
"Lucius. Find Harvey Dent." Bruce growled as he moved swiftly away.
"I already have him, Mr. Wayne. Sergeant Dawes called earlier this evening." Lucius replied grimly.
Bruce's steps stilled and his heart sank into his stomach.
"Where is she, Lucius? Where's Becky?"
Rebecca poked her head carefully around the corner, keeping her eyes peeled just in case of any unpleasant surprises even as she followed the sound of familiar voices from further inside the burnt warehouse.
"God dammit. Will you stop pointing that gun at my family?!"
Gordon's voice pierced the air while Barbara's sobs started to echo more loudly around the cavernous space.
"We have a winner." Harvey's voice was almost too quiet to hear, especially as Barbara's cries continued.
"Jim, stop him! Oh, don't let him!"
Rebecca slunk ever closer in the shadows before she stilled and she peeked carefully around the last metal beam between her and the others in time to see Harvey dragging Jim's youngest child and son away from his mother. Gordon was on the ground not far away, unable to do anything but watch as Harvey kept his gun pressed against the young boy's temple.
"Harvey… Harvey!" Gordon protested.
As Harvey just continued to walk toward the edge of the burnt floor, reaching the point where the raw wood stopped above the basement several floors below, Gordon cried out, "I'm sorry! For everything!"
Harvey stared back at Gordon, looking oddly pleased at Gordon's begging.
Gordon swallowed and he croaked out, "Please don't hurt my son. Please..."
Harvey lifted his pistol but wrapped his hand almost tenderly across the terrified boy's face as James Junior squeezed his eyes shut. But the sound of dogs barking and indistinct shouting from outside alerted Harvey to the fact that Gordon wasn't alone. And they were surrounded.
"You brought your cops?" Harvey demanded and Gordon shook his head.
"All they know is there's a situation. They… They don't know who, or what. They're just creating a perimeter."
Rebecca lifted her gun carefully, waiting for the right moment as Harvey snarled.
"You think I want to escape from this? There is no escape from this!"
He lifted his gun from James and gestured toward his face.
And Rebecca spun out from her hiding place - and she fired.
*A/N As part of my summer special week, updating this old thing for the first time in a very long time! Hope you enjoy this small surprise and happy summer but stay safe!