Hello! It's been a while since I have posted anything (shame on me, I'm well aware) and I'm fully aware that there are still some fics in-progress that I should really update in the not-so-distant future (I promise that I'll try to work on that)... but this is the story that's currently coming along really well and as long as there is anything that helps me get back to writing, I'm welcoming it ;) This story was inspired by this beautiful AU picture of Dick and Babs as fellow police officer by tumblr artist avataraandy: avataraandy. tumblr post/153774855472/ dickbabs-week-day-2- au-please- reblog-do-not
I haven't really written lots of DickBabs fanfic, so I would love to hear you guys thoughts on this story! :)
Oh, and check out the notes at the end of the chapter for comic book issues I referenced ^^
A New Partner
In a police station in the rather infamous city of Blüdhaven a young police officer had just finished her shift and was now looking at the precinct's large wall clock with an uneasy air about her. Her name was Barbara Gordon.
Barbara, a very clever and committed police officer, was easily distinguishable with her vibrant red hair and bright blue eyes that always held the look of pure determination in them - and with good reason: Barbara had big plans and was determined to see them fulfilled.
As the daughter of Gotham City's Police Commissioner James Gordon, she had seen her Dad fighting tooth and nail to clean up the GCPD from the bottom up, ever since her childhood- and after many, many years, James Gordon had succeeded in making the Gotham City Police Department a better and much more honest police force.
Barbara was incredibly proud of her father's accomplishment and aspired to do the same. And she would let nothing get in the way of that, least of all some new partner she just got assigned to and was about to meet any minute now.
First Meeting *1
Barbara wasn't exactly giddy at the prospect of getting a new partner. This was Blüdhaven, after all, a city that had more Big Belly Burgers than honest cops. She was not looking forward to having to look the other way whenever her new partner was accepting a bribe or something of that sorts (Blüdhaven PD did not take well to rats), while simultaneously having to keep an eye on them to stop them from crossing a line (she'd heard locker room talk from fellow officers who bragged about beating the shit out of petty criminals like it was something to be proud of). Her last partner, Officer Crowne, had been lazy and old, practically just waiting to go into retirement; he had let Barbara do her job in peace, as long as he got some undeserved recognition for some of their cases and didn't have to do anything that involved getting up from his ass.
It hadn't been a dream partnership, but in contrast to alternatives such as trigger-happy Officer Richter, misogynistic pig Penham or a ruthless brawler like Officer Hannity, Crowne had been the lesser evil by far.
Barbara's eyes wandered to the wristwatch her father had given her for her college graduation: her new partner was already 5 minutes late. Great.
"Gordon!" The unmistakable, authoritative voice of Captain Mercklesone let Barbara know that the moment of truth was here; in his tow the captain had a dark-haired young man, who exuded a strange mixture of calm confidence and puppy-dog-like excitement.
Mercklesone just barely waited until the newbie had completely caught up with him, barked "Meet your new partner, Officer Richard Grayson," towards Barbara and, without any further words, stormed off in direction of his office.
Taken aback by this sudden exit, Grayson stared after Mercklesone's retreating figure with a disbelieving look on his face, which gave Barbara an opportunity to take her new partner in more closely: She would guess that he was a little younger than her (so he probably was a complete rookie, oh boy), was about her height and looked pretty fit (he'd probably just left the academy, Barbara supposed), so he'd hopefully not drag her down too much.
Grayson turned around to face her and Barbara could see that he had pretty dark blue eyes and an easy smile, which he was now flashing at her. Barbara couldn't help but notice that her new partner was ridiculously handsome. But he also looked strangely familiar.
"So, um, hi. I'm sorry for being late, took a little longer to get my uniform and gun," Grayson explained apologetically, holding out a hand that Barbara grabbed for a short, but firm shake.
"Officer Barbara Gordon," she properly introduced herself, "welcome to the Blüdhaven PD."
Upon hearing her name, the newbie squinted his eyes, "Are you by any chance related to Gotham City's Police Commissioner James Gordon?"
'A Gothamite', Barbara realized, surprised. You didn't meet many Gothamites in Blüdhaven. Gotham City on its own already wasn't really the nicest place to live in; people who lived there usually didn't feel the need to migrate to their even worse-off sister city...
"If you think being his daughter counts as a relation, then, sure," Barbara joked, affirming the newbie's question. While the words were leaving her lips, the penny finally dropped and she suddenly realized why her new partner looked familiar: he was the Richard Grayson, adopted son and heir to billionaire Bruce Wayne, or the "Prince of Gotham", as the tabloids liked to call the man who owned half the city!
"Well, the apple obviously didn't fall far from the tree," Grayson said warmly, unaware of Barbara's sudden epiphany, "I'm really looking forward to working with you."
Barbara gave her new partner a scrutinizing look, trying to read him - Why would someone with roots in Gotham's high society come to rotten Blüdhaven to work as an underpaid cop?!
She couldn't shake the feeling that it was no coincidence that he got partnered up with the only Gothamite in their precinct; surely some strings had been pulled to make sure his partner knew that they had someone from Gotham's 'royalty' before them...
"What are you doing here?" Barbara asked brusquely, not liking the idea of being some sort of piece in the game Blüdhaven's corrupt higher-ups were playing.
Grayson looked at her with wide eyes, clearly taken aback by her sudden change in demeanor.
"I suppose the same thing as you?" he said haltingly, confusion evident on his face, "just wanting to help where I can. 'Serve and protect', right?"
That sounded sincere enough, if mightily naive. Maybe he really just wanted to do some good, though her superiors probably thought he needed babysitting. And Barbara had just proven with her prior partner that she could work around her partner's lack of input. Great.
"Our shift starts tomorrow at four. Be here by three. And don't be late."
The Observation *²
The next day, her new partner was at the precinct at three o'clock sharp, looking both nervous and excited. Barbara took him with her to the briefing room, where he listened to Mendelsohn's rambling briefing with intense concentration. Well, Grayson was definitely putting effort into this. For now at least.
She and her new partner were assigned the observation of 2741 Bowline Street. Apparently the apartment complex was the residence of the girlfriend of Digby Carnes, a robber with a long rap sheet of holdups going back to grade school, and Detective Division was hoping their perp would show up there. It wasn't the most promising lead, but a lead nonetheless.
Barbara reasoned that there wasn't much that her new partner could screw up during the observation. Plus, this could be the perfect opportunity to figure Grayson out.
Half an hour into the observation and Barbara had found out one important thing about her new partner: he just couldn't sit still. He had started with occasionally shifting in his seat while asking some questions about their perp and then some about his new fellow officers. Barbara had barely noticed it then. It was after Barbara had answered all of his questions and a silence had fallen over them, when it caught her attention: the wiggling of his foot, the squirming in his seat, the erratic rhythm his fingers tapped against his thigh - it was driving Barbara up the wall.
"Would you please stop that?"
"Stop what?" Grayson asked confused, completely unaware of the restlessness he was exhibiting.
"That," Barbara said, pointing to his left leg, which he was currently bouncing up and down. "You've been fidgeting the entire time since we've started our surveillance and it drives me crazy."
"Oh," Grayson said sheepishly, stopping his wiggling at once. "Sorry."
For a few minutes, both cops continued their observation in complete silence and stillness.
But all too soon the finger tapping started up again. Barbara let out a deep sigh.
"You hungry?" Grayson said half an hour later, gesturing towards a food cart one block down the street.
She didn't feel particularly hungry, but Barbara figured that a quick snack couldn't hurt (especially if that meant a few minutes of calm), so she said: "Sure."
"What would you like?" Grayson asked, an intent look on his face when he took her order.
Just as Barbara was about to pull out some money, her new partner waved it aside, telling her he "got it."
That almost made Barbara feel bad for being so annoyed with him (or rather, his fidgetiness). When the bouncing in his leg returned ten minutes into their stakeout snack, she felt a lot less bad, though. She did notice him stopping his wiggling whenever he became aware of it - the following stillness lasted maybe about five minutes, but Barbara appreciated the effort.
Instead of blowing a fuse as she normally would have by now, she just ground her teeth together, praying for their perp to make an appearance.
It took Carnes two excruciating hours before he finally strolled down the street.
Barbara was pretty sure that her teeth were completely ruined by then.
The Bar *³
It had been two weeks after the rocky start of their partnership and they had just apprehended a car burglar. Grayson hadn't been such a hindrance after all and even helped her at some point. Barbara was finally starting to warm up to her new partner and she felt in a celebratory mood - so she decided to invite him for a drink at Hogan's Alley, a popular cop bar in Melville Section.
Her new partner looked positively elated. Poor guy, after all the crap she had given him, he apparently was now over the moon for something as simple as regular after-work-bonding. Maybe she had been too hard on him.
"Welcome to Hogan's Alley," Barbara said, leading Grayson inside the familiar and always crowded place, "it's kind of the hangout for Blüdhaven cops."
Grayson surprised her with his reply: "Oh, I know. I know this place well."
Grayson didn't necessarily strike Barbara as the kind of person that would spend a lot of time drinking in bars...
But as if to confirm his claim, Barbara's partner easily navigated the crammed room to find them two empty seats at the end of the bar, where he was cordially greeted by the owner himself:
"Grayson! So you've finally found your way back here, huh?"
"Hello, Mr. Hogan, it's nice to see you again. How's Michael?" *
"He's doing really well… Does his homework like a good boy, helps me out sometimes on the weekends… I think he has settled in just fine."
"That's great to hear." Grayson now turned his attention back to Barbara, who had observed the exchange with puzzlement, "Mr. Hogan, meet my partner, -"
"Gordon, if I recall correctly," Hogan said, eyeing Barbara intently, "you used to come here with Crowne occasionally, right?"
"That's right," Barbara nodded, impressed by the man's memory. She must have been here maybe six times over the span of her two years on the force.
"And now you're partnered up with this one, huh?" Hogan said amused, nodding in Grayson's direction. "How's he doing so far?"
Grayson suddenly looked a little nervous. Poor soul.
"Not half bad, I'd say," Barbara answered nonchalantly, a smile tugging at her lips.
Barbara noticed the tenseness in her partner's shoulders disappear and saw that he was sporting a much more relaxed expression on his face now. She hadn't realized that he would be this worried about her judgement.
Hogan seemed to have noticed, too; the bar owner let out a chuckle before taking their orders and serving the two cops their drinks, while chatting with them companionably. He then turned his attention back to his other customers.
Barbara looked expectantly at Grayson, who was now sipping on his drink, oblivious to her stare.
"So," she said, unable to ignore the curiosity that had been sparked after watching the unaffected interaction between her partner and the bar owner, "how come you know Hogan so well?"
"Well, I worked here until I finally got into the BPD."
Barbara couldn't help the disbelief she felt seep into her words: "You worked here?!"
"Yeah," Grayson affirmed casually before giving her a very piercing look: "Despite what you might think, I'm no stranger to work."
Barbara felt her cheeks redden. This had been the first thought on her mind.
Grayson shifted on his stool, now fully facing her, a solemn expression on his face. Barbara felt herself leaning towards him.
"Look, Barbara, you're smart and a Gothamite - I'm sure you know whose adoptive son I am."
Barbara couldn't help but be surprised that Grayson was openly addressing his connections now; he had made no allusions whatsoever to his high society ties these past two weeks - despite her harsh treatment of him throughout all this time.
"But I can assure you that I'm not one of these spoiled rich kids who think that they are edgy for mingling with the 'plebs' until they get bored and then return home where everything is ready to fall into their laps, that's just not who I am nor who I want to be. Heck, that's the whole reason why I left Gotham for Blüdhaven in the first place: to get out of Bruce's shadow and forge my own path."
"And your path leads you to Blüdhaven's rotten police force?" Barbara asked, genuinely curious.
"Yeah, I think so…" Grayson said quietly, his voice now barely above a whisper, causing Barbara to lean in closer, "I told you that I just wanna help where I can, and if there is any city in desperate need of good, honest cops, it's the 'haven, isn't it? I mean, isn't that exactly why you're here, too?"
Grayson locked eyes with Barbara and the intensity and honesty she was met with made her wonder how she could have ever believed him to be a spoiled airhead.
"I guess so," Barbara admitted in an equally hushed tone.
Her response was greeted with a quick, faint smile.
"You see, you and I, we both know why we need good cops."
Barbara immediately thought of her dad, who had seen a city worth saving in Gotham, just as she was seeing now in Blüdhaven, and she thought of a young boy who had lost his parents through a most violent tragedy, orchestrated by mob boss Zucco, and who had been adopted by Gotham's most famous billionaire and was now looking right at her.
"Yeah, we both do…" Barbara said earnestly, causing Grayson to flash her a warm smile and reassume his relaxed position from before; the tension that had surrounded them dissipated immediately.
Barbara couldn't help feeling bad for assuming the worst when she'd found out who her new partner was.
"I'm sorry I have been so hard on you the past two weeks," she apologized, while nervously fiddling with her drink, "I couldn't help but be suspicious that you were partnered up with the only other Gothamite in the precinct..."
"Yeah, I get it; it took me by surprise, too - kinda undermined the whole reason why I relocated..."
"Tired of being treated like Gotham royalty, 'Richie Grayson'?" Barbara said teasingly.
"You have no idea," Grayson said, shuddering at the use of the name the tabloids were fond of calling him,"just hearing that name makes me feel phony."
"So what else should I call you, Grayson? Richard?"
"Actually, my friends call me Dick."
Barbara raised an eyebrow, unable to hide her smirk, "Are you sure they are your friends?"
Grayson just rolled his eyes.
"Ha-ha, very funny," he said dryly, before giving her an curious look, "What about you? What do your friends call you? 'Babs'?"
"Not really; plain old "Barbara" usually does the trick…" Barbara said, not bothering to mention that there hadn't been that many friends to call her nicknames in the first place.
"Shame... Now that I said it, I feel like Babs would actually suit you…"
"Well, knock yourself out; I don't think I'll mind you using it, Dick," Barbara said, shrugging.
Grayson gave her a delighted smile, "If you say so, Babs ."
Barbara couldn't help but let out a snort.
"This is so weird," she felt the need to point out, all of a sudden acutely aware of how bizarre her life has become, "three weeks ago, I never would have thought that I would sit in a bar, chatting with the Richard Grayson, discussing nicknames…"
Dick scrunched up his nose when Barbara stressed his name that way, clearly not comfortable with its underlying connotation.
"Please don't have any illusions that I actually fit in that high society world; I was born and raised in a traveling circus... I suffered from a complete culture shock when I attended my first Wayne Gala - apparently it's not proper etiquette to hang from a chandelier while the hors d'oeuvres are being served."
The vivid picture her imagination provided her with made Barbara laugh.
Dick grinned, then continued: "And all things considered, I think I grew up very normally - I even went to public school and all that."
"Really? Why that?"
Dick leaned closer to his partner in a conspirative manner. Now really intrigued, Barbara found herself mirroring his movement.
"You don't get to hang around girls much when you're being home-schooled, you know," he said, a mischievous twinkle in his eye.
Barbara rolled her eyes but couldn't help laughing, playfully swatting his arm, "Ugh, and just when I was starting to like you."
Looking positively gleeful, Dick gave a dramatic gasp: "Oh, so it's happening? I'm finally winning you over?"
"Sorry buddy, but that comment just set you back another two weeks."
Nightwing #48: Mercklesone is the person that calls Dick to tell him that there is a position free at the BPD - he is not a police captain, but since I wasn't sure who actually was the captain of Dick's precinct, I decided to go with that name; it's also the issue when Dick starts his job at the BPD; his partner, Amy Rohrbach, is not especially happy to work with him, because she thinks that he is "buds" with some of the corrupt higher-ups (she is not completely wrong - seems like the shifty Inspector Mac Arnot character arranged for Dick to be hired… I don't remember if there was a specific reason why; he and Dick went to the academy at the same time - although Arnot rarely every attended the classes… he had his "connections")
Nightwing #61: Richter is another officer at the BPD; he's a douchebag and we're gonna meet him in the next chapter
Nightwing #64: Hannity is another of Dick's fellow officers; Dick has seen him "beat a suspect raw"
Nightwing #64: Mendelsohn is one of Dick's fellow officers in this issue.
Nightwing Secret Files and Origins #1: Bowline Street is a real street in Blüdhaven; at least according to a map in this issue
Nightwing #49: Dick and Amy observe the apartment of Digby Carnes in this issue. Dick does not fidget during that observation (he's been trained to be a detective since the age of nine in the comics, he can sit through a boring observation; plus, he's sleep-deprived in that scene in the comic because he's also a friggin' superhero), but you can tell that he's bored and dying for some action
Nightwing #4: Dick gets a job as a bartender at Hogan's Alley; the owner, Hank Hogan, is a former cop
Nightwing #12: the "Michael" (sometimes also called "Mike") Dick is referring to is the street kid "Mutt", who tries to break into Dick's apartment; when Dick realizes that the kid has nowhere to go, he arranges for Hogan to take the boy in, giving Michael a home :) Michael make is helping out at the bar in Nightwing #42, when Dick celebrates his graduation from the academy with Clancy, his landlady
Nightwing Secret Files and Origins #1: according to another map from this issue, Melville Section is an actual district of Blüdhaven, although I have no idea if Hogan's Alley is located there ^^;
Robin: Year One #1: Dick's joke about girls being a perk of going to public school is something I burrowed from that issue ;)