A/N: And here we go again! Part three of this mammoth series continues, this time Gar's getting himself into trouble that not even this Irishman could expect... But perhaps another Irishman can help with that?
The Watchman III: The City of Blinding Lights
"And you're sure about this?"
Clack-clack, clack-clack, the steel heartbeat of a metal snake, careening down the wood-enforced vein towards destination unknown...
Each impact of iron wheel on steel beam like a nail driving into the boxwood of a wild west coffin...
"So you're running away then."
Flash of sunlight through passing trees bounces effortlessly off emerald-colored glass...
"That implies I'm giving up. I'm not."
Class ring fitted tight on the ring finger of a man with fair, white skin. Hands are weathered with age but the green jewel inside shines radiantly...
"You're full of shit! You say you aren't running but you're leaving Jump City for that place? They're going to run this place once you leave!"
Black leather coat, ominous and showing the beginnings of fraying ends. No light reflects off the fabric, just like a black hole...
"If I stay here they'll still run it. I can't stop them in this condition."
Though the light entering the steel snake is faint and fading into orange, it still has enough energy to bring life to long locks of blonde hair...
"Condition? What's wrong with you that you can't stop them?"
At this point in the memory, the green glasses are pulled off. Staring at the front with deep recesses of cold, hauntingly forest eyes, the memory continues.
"I'm not strong enough to stop them. That's why I heading East."
Looking out of his window, the forests and neighborhoods that had been his sight for days gives way to a new breed of both. Telephone poles replace the trees and homes replace the forests, their animals replaced with steel, four-wheeled beasts...
"But why there? What can they do for you that this city can't?"
Darkening, menacingly, the lips of the man pull back, revealing a pair of fangs just below the upper lip. Giant skyscrapers, zeppelins, and a red sky awaits him.
"Any city in the world that can take a man and turn him into a monster, its Gotham."
"Gotham Central Terminal!" The sound of the conductor's voice over the intercomm sounds exceptionally bored. Perhaps he's justified, its been a long ride out of Metropolis afterall. Of course, boredom is one of the few words that "Watchman" Garfield Logan would choose to describe this feeling. All around the train car are hundreds of souls, moving to and fro about the station, some entering the adjacent, steam-billowing trains or escaping the mass to their own devices. Grabbing the tall, shoulder-strapped travel bag around slinging it across his right-side back, Gar stands taller than the others in the compartment. The looks of children gazing in awe at his size, coupled with the cautious stares of parents, brings a wry smile to his face. Innocence and fear.. terrible combination. Its the wrong crowd to scare though.. that prey isn't found on this train.
Out into a rush of noise, steam, conversation, announcements, engines, departures, arrivals... Its all a bit much to take in for him. Unlike his previous visit, the arrival had been made by plane. At the very least, the airport gave some measure of adjustment to the new environment. No such luck here in Gotham Central. Stepping off the platform, Gar's nose becomes filled with the smell of pizza...New York pizza was so much better than Jump's! Pretzels from that vendor, nachos from that shop next to the coffee house.. If only there were time..
Picking up a map of the city from one of the information kiosks, Gar opens up the paper and comes to a somewhat depressing fact. The area in question isn't just far from here but the price to get him there via taxi would be most distressing indeed. Without the League paying for expenses anymore.. Agh! Forget them! Steeling his resolve, after a quick sigh that is, Gar resigns himself to his fate. How far of a walk could it be?
And Gar thought Jump City had a lot of cars... From the back seat of a taxi, one might not be able to comprehend the sheer size of Gotham City's motorists. This time around, however, Gar gets a full view from his place on the sidewalk, waiting to cross the street. For once, it seems Gar doesn't stand out in the middle of the crowd. His black coat and gruff exterior blend in well with the rest of the early 20th century style favored by the older residents of the city. Of course, some signs of progress appear to be filtering in as the occasional sight of low-cut jeans or baggy clothes are sighted. For now, however, Gar finds solace in being one with the older crowd. Blending in easier can save your life..
Then again though, a casual glance towards a local Starbucks or dining establishment could reveal the trends coming faster. Despite being on his own now for little more than a week, Gar himself finds those green eyes glancing towards several of the woman around the city. The West Coast might be known for good looking people but it would appear that Gotham might have something to say about that.
Especially when it comes to the size of the skyscrapers, casting Gar in nearly perpetual shade. Towering far above the sea level like the pillars of creation itself, they stand as iron watchtowers, servicing the citizens of the city and the county silently, painstakingly still. Gotham State Building especially looms in the distance, reminding Gar that no matter how tall he stands over those around him, he's still nothing but an ant to the steel behemoth. Enough time contemplating zen in the city, time to get a move.. the light has turned green and not even good intentions can stop a speeding car should he lag behind.
With the sun now far below the towering buildings, Gar finds himself cursing not just the city already but also himself. Damn the city for being so big... And damn himself for not realizing, until a block and a half away, that he could've just FLOWN here as a bird! Screw Batman and who else might be watching, it would've made this trip a hell of a lot easier! No time to bitch now though, a familiar sight isn't that far away. Kids run by, their parents yelling at them from the windows far above. Night isn't the best time for kids to be out but given the neighborhood, the criminal element might actually be the least-troubling thing to consider.
Mugs are slammed down with the ferocity of a blacksmith bringing his hammer down onto a glowing, super-heated piece of steel. Not as hot as steel, mind you, but the contents of the emptied mugs surely fill their drinkers with both warmth and humorous intentions. Each mug, while repeatedly emptied, seems to find itself being refilled within minutes, much to the delight of the residents of the establishment. A pint in the stomach is worth a loaf from the bakery or so the owner might say. Clanking along with the band, playing feverishly into the night with its chorus of violins, drums, and pipes, the glasses might as well be snares and cymbals to their percussion and beats..
Add another sound to the vacuum: the sound of a door swinging open and conversation coming to a stand-still.
For a brief moment, the bar falls silent at the sight of the beastly man standing in the doorway. Eyes hidden by glasses, coat flapping at his ankles, bag draped to his shoulder, he clearly doesn't look like the bar's many residents. Looks, however, can be misleading. To one man in particular behind the bar, this visitation might turn out to be a very entertaining sight.
The thunderous roar of the Mad Irishman's owner, nearly as full of energy as he is of whisky, comes running over to the entrance with arms wide open. Stopping Gar's avoiding motions in their tracks, Someone wraps him up in a tight bearhug, lifting him into the air. For a man nearly a seven inches shorter than Gar, he certainly hasn't lost a bit of strength in his body. Judging by the smell on Someone's shirt, it might be from the booze however.
"Ah missed ya y'wee bit'a madman ya! Wha t'ok ya so long, aye?!"
Gar pulls his face away from Someone's wide-mouthed one, the smell of potent whisky and cabbage doesn't make for a pleasant combination. How his wife puts up with it is a question best left to Q.
"What took me so long? I had to walk you damn Irish bastard!"
Letting go of the hug, Someone smacks Gar hard on the back, bringing a twitch to his friend's face. "Oi! Now t'ats not a'reason me t'be hearin' from ya, Gar'fiel! Ah, come'n from t'at draft bit'a air an' prop yerself up on'a stool!"
"Sounds like you've been on the stool too damn long, Someone! How long have you been drinking tonight?" Gar does, however, take the seat as requested. Countless blocks on the feet can be murder and the (forced) open stool next to Someone seems like a last-minute pardon.
"He's been at it since four o'clock." Another old sight announces, leaning on the bar before the two men.
"Four t'irty an' ye b'knowin why!" Someone warns, wagging his finger at Damon.
"Let me guess. He's throwing a party because he knew I was coming?" Gar asks, though smiling a bit at the sane compatriot of Someone's company.
Wiping a newly emptied mug clean, Damon admits "That and he got some good news. It seems that one of our customers is free for good behavior."
Eyes rolling behind green glass, Watchman glances at Someone and asks sarcastically "Gee, wouldn't happen to be someone I know, would it?"
Faking a hurt look, Someone lifts a full shotglass to Gar and asks innocently... well, for him... "Me? D'unah know w'at y'mean."
Replying with a look of suspicion, Gar eventually accepts the glass in hand. "Fine, I'll have fun with you tonight. Tomorrow though, business."
Snapping a two-finger salute to his brow, Someone replies back joyfully. "Aye! MACKEY! Git in'a on'tis! T'ree m'ackies in t'house, n'er b'moved again!"
Reluctantly, Damon fills up a shotglass for both Someone and himself. Looking at Gar, Damon offers a brave smile, knowing its only going to make Someone louder.
"Cheers?" Gar offers.
"Cheers." Damon replies.
"DOWN T'WINDPIPEY I'GO!" Someone shouts as the three pound their drinks, hard and fast.
(For the sake of understanding, the following conversation is written in understandable English)
With the party finally getting revved up to full-gear, evidenced by the pub nearly bursting with all the people inside, the music and beer flows like a burst dam of water on the atmosphere. Guinness and whiskey, along with the roar of clapping, cheering, and hooting, brings the general strangeness up a few more notches. Just ask the owner and his invited guest sitting at the bar, bottles strewn across the wood.
"Look, I told you once, I'll tell you possibly a third time, there ain't anything wrong with killing people!"
Gar, shaking the effects of the whiskey off in his head, or so he tries, argues back. "I know, I know! But still, even though I want to kill these fuckers, something keeps holding me back!"
Swishing about a half-full bottle of beer, Someone suggests "Doubt its that lass you had with you. She looked ready to kill before you!"
Tipping his half-empty black glass of stout, Gar counters "Or the others I had to hang with these past three years!"
Taking a sip from his beer, Someone asks "Then why do you wanna do it? You're scary enough as is."
Finishing the rest of his own drink, Watchman replies "That's just it, I'm not scary enough it seems. Everytime I try and terrorize those...ugh, that didn't feel good... everytime I try and scare these fucks, they come back stronger... Need to shut them up for good."
Holding onto the bar for a second, ready to fall off the stool, Someone catches his balance before reminding Gar. "Kill one fucker, they send someone stronger after you the next time."
"Speaking from experience?"
Damon, a little bit red in the face himself but still coherent (and not needing the subtitles), informs Gar. "Don't let him fill your head with bullshit, Gar. We've all killed somebody on our way here but the way he says it you'd think he'd kill the pope himself."
"I'd keep the gun from your hand, honestly Gar. You don't want to live with that guilt on your soul."
Watchman finds his eyes gazing down for a moment as those words echo in his blurry mind. Guilt? Could he actually feel sorry if he kept the world from dealing with Desade again, or Baptist... or even Ripper?
"But maybe we could offer him something else, eh mackey?" Someone offers, looking at Damon. With a wry wink and a slick grin, he turns back to a questioning Gar. "You might not actually want to kill someone... but who says our kind can't make you into a juggernaut?"
Damon shakes his head. "Someone, you get them involved, they're going to kill us. Remember the last time you dealt with the freaks?"
"Yeah yeah, ol' Two-face nearly killed us, big deal!" If the slurring wasn't bad enough, even his brewery breath forces Gar to back away, waving his hand to clear the air.
"You guys trying to get me killed or something?" Gar asks, looking queasy at the smell of toxic Irish fumes.
"Yes and no." Damon answers. "The only way you could honestly get "stronger" out here is to learn from the experts. You say you aren't in the League anymore so that means you can start dealing with some of Gotham's... less than savory characters."
"I haven't seen ol' Riddly in a long while!" Someone points out, tapping the green bowler on his head, trying not to spill beer on it.
"Of course, some of them might still have a grudge against us.." Damon informs, glaring at the pretending-to-be-innocent Someone.
"I have absolutely NO idea what you're yappin' about, mackey."
Gar glares at the Irishman too. "Something tells me you tried pulling a fast one on a few of them, didn't you?"
"Scarecrow doesn't need guns... at least good quality ones..." Someone mutters, trying not to be heard. Tell that to a guy with powerful hearing.
"You tried to rip off Scarecrow? You're lucky the bastard didn't gas your ass for it!"
Damon slaps the top of Someone's head, bringing a yelp from the owner's mouth. "He almost did! We had to give him some of our better stock for half price just to shut up that corpse. Good job, boss."
"It was worth a try..."
Hand to his chin, Gar finally asks. "So what do you guys have in mind?"
Up the long, hollow steps. Each one a drummer's note, each one a heartbeat of a building spanning three centuries. Booze-filled synapses register nothing on the walls but a brown haze and darker floorboards. Why couldn't Someone build a guest room on the ground floor?
Entering the room with a stagger, Gar sees the walls aren't as sparse as they once were. Granted, the Irish graffiti remains, added to in fact, but now it seems Someone's wife has started to make it feel more homely. Metal shades replaced with cloth, pictures on the walls instead of posters of Irish Nationalism, and a rug! This might all be appreciated if not for the fact that a now half-naked Watchman was about to collapse hard on a bed that would challenge him for mutual hardness. Drunken body wins, however, as he falls onto the well-worn mattress. After a full day walking and on the rails, not to mention copious amounts of Irish drinking and talking, some sleep is desperately desired.
But not even his alcohol-induced euphoria can hide one simple fact from his mind: Nostalgia. Three years since this bed... Deep blue eyes, staring into the depths of darker green orbs? Wasn't it this bed that last time, in this same drunken state, that instead of a pillow, he held a woman?
Regret... Wonder what she's doing now? Sleeping probably.. Its getting late in Salem, Fate probably has a sleeping schedule set up by now. She'll be happy not having to worry about me everynight... C'mon, now you're starting to sound emo Garfield... Can't have that. How are you going to make these freaks fear you if you can't accept...
"Seriously, I need to sleep... just be quiet..."
... face buried into the pillow, blanket unnecessary at the moment from the alcohol's heat, Gar finds himself drifting into an uneasy sleep, unsure of what tomorrow might bring. With luck, it'll bring him one step closer to facing Desade's Gang again rather than another night of drinking. This ain't gonna feel good in the morning..
A/N2: Someone was bound to make some trouble in this series again sometime... Poor Gar, this is gonna hurt in the morning. Only question is can Gar work with some of Gotham's freaks or is he going to have to learn the hard way that Gotham isn't Jump City? ... Gar better not fucking turn Emo on me either, I like his madman side!
- Since the Gotham arc of "Watchman I" was named after a U2 song, I'm keeping the trend. "City of Blinding Lights" is about New York and being overwhelmed by it at first.
Question: If anyone lives in the Manhattan region, can you drop me a few suggestions for local bars, cafes, restuaraunts that you'd know? I'm a Philadelphia native through and through but New York always facinated me. Suggestions will result in favoritism and possible entries in your name.