A/N: Yes, I'm doing a rewrite of Redux 2. Why? I hated the last version, I really did. Gar was too violent, too soon. Not to mention he was a bit of an all-knowing prick. No, he's not there yet. Those who've read Watchman (Draft One) will recognize the titles. This story takes some themes from Watchman: City of Blinding Lights as well as Watchman's "Under a blood red sky" arc. And unlike the last Redux 2, I ACTUALLY KNOW WHERE THIS IS GOING. I'm not just winging this one, I have a plot done up for this so it should be finished. Besides, this story will have the big arc that I've been begging to write since 2008. Gar's still Gar, he's not a zombie, but you'll notice he's a little different. Details will be explained in the coming chapters so bare with me.
Under a Blood Red Sky...
"It almost felt real, talking to him there in my kitchen. I could see the tired look in his eyes, the pain of seeing so much misery pulling at his face. Garfield Logan, a man I've only known for a little over a year, seemed as though he was at the end of his rope and just waiting for the final push over the edge to end it all… But he wasn't really there, not even on this side of the country. I only had him on the brain because of the news that day, talking about the big headline coming out of Gotham City…"
January 3, 2008
"So you've never been to Gotham, huh?" asks a man in his middle years, face sporting a thick, gray beard and mustache.
The rusting walls and damp corridors might as well be heaven compared to the hell his companion's been through. "No. Been to the Hub once but never Gotham."
"Well my friend, you're in for quite a treat." Through a bulkhead, the two emerge into the open air of a ship's deck, looking towards the lights in the distance. The smell of salt wraps around the men even as the cold, wintry breeze threatens to freeze them to their core. "It's a city unlike anything I've seen in the world. Trust me, I've been all over on these tin cans and let me tell you, Gotham's the place to be. Sure it's run down, crime-ridden, a bit too 1930s, and filled with lunatics but hey, what place isn't, huh?"
Looking over the railing, they can see the docks approaching despite the ship's slow speed coming into port. An island city, cut off from the mainland, that looks more like a steel monument to Hell than an American city.
"What is?" the eager man replies, curious at his mate's expression.
"The sky. It's so red but it's not even sunset yet."
"Yeah, creepy isn't it? I've heard some rumors that it might be the blood of all the people who've died here over the years. Though it's probably because of all that pollution those factories keep pumping out."
Only silence for a reply from this mystery man, his green eyes staring intently forward. This city's pollution is the least of his worries; the people who live there fit that role.
"You know…" the man starts this time, turning away from the city. "You never did tell me just how you got onto this ship. You've been with us since December but we left port back in October."
Eyebrow raising at the reply, the elder asks simply "You swam here? You're kidding, right? We crossed the Pacific straight for Panama, didn't even come back to land until the Canal. Where the hell would you swim from?"
Taking his eyes off the city, he turns it now to the man beside him. Perhaps it's his taller size but more likely the iron look in his eyes that makes his shipmate unconsciously wince at his gaze. "I swam from North to South. Good thing you found me before I drowned, hmm?"
"Yeah, I suppose…" As his mate turns back to the city, he ventures an opinion "You must've swam a long way then for us to find you out so far."
Around the ship are announcements to prepare for landing, several of the crew moving about as they move about their duties. Rising off the rail, the tall man tells the elder "Far enough where no one will find me. Looks like you can still find freedom out on the sea."
A duffel bag around their shoulders, the two men start to depart their ship along with the rest of the freighter's crew. Conversation abounds from topics ranging from women, a good night of drinking, and what kind of weirdoes will they run into on this stop.
"So what are your plans?"
Pushing aside a strand of black hair, the solemn man answers simply "Not sure. Think I'll take a walk into town, see what's to do around here."
"A city this big should have something for everyone, even someone as quiet as you." The wry grin on his face doesn't bring the intended expression from his companion.
Stone faced as ever, a simply "Maybe" is all he gets.
"I'm sure you'll find something to do. Women, booze, gambling, it's got it all. Maybe you'll get lucky and run into the Bat or something, that cold look of your's might even scare him."
"I hope to stay as far away from him as possible… A drink wouldn't be a bad idea though seeing as I haven't had once since October."
"There you go. Go on out, have a good time. We've been at sea too long now not to."
"And what about you? Gonna follow the boys into town for a "show?""
A quick chuckle from the older man says it all. "Might just do that. It's not like I have an old bag at home waiting for me to pull into port. Women just get you into trouble."
Jinx… Kristine… Red… Raven… "Yeah, they do, don't they?"
Outside the two men walk down the steps then move to the side.
"Well kid, I hope you find what you're looking for. Are you sure you won't be coming back to the ship?"
A shake of the head, the man seems intent on his goal. "I'm sure. You've been generous enough to let me stowaway until we got here. I wouldn't want to push the ship's generosity any further."
A guffaw from the old sailor, slapping the man on the back, he retorts "I'm no old salt, boy, I know what you're saying. You're tired of being around a bunch of dicks and no pussy. Hey, a life at sea's not for everyone."
"Definitely not for me." Offering his hand, the stranger offers a final farewell. "Until we meet again?"
A broad smile on his aging face, the sailor offers his hand as well in a hearty handshake. "Yup, until we meet again. See ya around, stranger."
My time on the ship had come to end and not a day too soon. The old man on the ship was right, I'm not cut out for a life on the ocean. Not that I didn't mind being out on the sea but being on a freighter with a bunch of homesick, raunchy, salty bunch like that was beginning to get on my nerves. They didn't even seem to mind too much that I just so happened to pop out of the ocean one day and flop onto the deck like a dead fish. Barely able to talk, barely able to move much less, they just accepted it like it was a common occurrence. Then again the life of a sailor's as close to eccentricity as you get.
How I found the ship, I'm still not too sure. Just a voice in my head one day, telling me to swim South instead of the West route I was following. Over a month spent out at sea, my escape from it all coming to an end as I flopped onto the metal hull. The Lazarus Pit did it's job alright but the side effects haven't been pretty to deal with… neither have they helped my nightmares each time I fall asleep…
Gotham wasn't my favorite choice but I couldn't return to Jump City, not yet. I escaped with a bunch of Middle Eastern terrorists, apparently committed some horrible crime on an island after the pit, and probably put every friend of mine back in Jump City in mortal danger because of those bastard gangs. Can't return, not yet… Let the Watchman stay dead for awhile longer, until the time's right to come back.
… after I've dealt with Jinx's murderer. Deadshot operates out of Gotham City and I've ignored his crime for far too long.
One thing was clear: After spending over two months out at sea, I wasn't really prepared for how confining a city would feel. Especially a city like Gotham where the buildings just seem to crowd in on you, lean in on your shoulder, and press down on you like a hydraulic press. Not that the city wasn't chilling enough with it's hundred-year old buildings but that wind pounding in from the ocean just seemed to make the environment more unpleasant.
The people weren't much to look at neither but thanks to Q's holoring, they'd never think twice about a man my height, a light pale skin, and a full head of black hair. He wasn't kidding either when he said this city had a 30s feel to it, especially with all the older looking vehicles, the residents in suits and dresses, and more fedoras than your average college frat party. It almost made me feel normal, considering everyone in Jump seemed to eye me suspiciously for wearing a trench coat. Still, I'd need new clothes to blend into this urban time machine... and a safe haven. That's when I decided to make a phone call to a person I never thought I'd be calling.
Three rings of the phone in his ear, Gar leans inside the booth, wary of any passersby. It's bad enough the city can make you feel caged in but the looks on it's residents makes him feel he's caged in with people ready to blow at any minute. The articles about Gotham being one of most crime-filled and paranoid cities in America could be true after all.
"Hello?" a woman's voice asks in the receiver, slightly irritable from the start.
"Is this Detective Montoya?"
"This is my number, isn't it? Who is this?"
Rather demanding, isn't she? "A friend of a mutual friend. Who that friend is the question, isn't it?"
A brief pause seems to tell him his contact information was accurate after all. "If you're his friend, you better be more specific. Prove it."
"Remember when the Hindenburg was shot down because they were actually carrying secrets of the Illuminati?"
"Yeah, that's him. Who is this and what do you need?"
"He told me I could rely on you if I ever found myself in Gotham. I'll save the names for when we meet later this evening." Damn, even in this phone booth that icy wind still gets to you. That collapsible door doesn't do anything for heat, does it?
"I take it you're not from around here?"
"No. Where should I meet you?"
"There's a coffee shop on Market Street and 3rd. Be there at seven and we'll talk."
"I don't know why but that sky just keeps bugging me no matter how much I try to avoid it. Living in Jump for nearly eight full years must have made me used to blue skies and thin clouds. Here in Gotham it's just red sky with black clouds in the sky and more steam clouds from the factories. It's a no brainer people would go crazy in this city; it feels like bizarre world here. Old cars, Depression-era clothing, even those blimps that keep floating over the city, you'd think we were a few years away from the Nazis starting the war.
Didn't take long to find a 7-11 and a few maps of the city. Maps make things easier because people can't track you like a GPS or internet connection. The one thing I glad Talia's men did was deactivate the GPS in my holoring, I never did like being followed by a computer, even if it was by Q. Found the coffee shop with time to spare and even enough time to visit a thrift store and buy some fresh clothes. Try living in the same jeans, t-shirt, and coat for the past two months and you'll see just how crazy YOU get."
Gar sits at the end of the counter, sipping on a cup of tea as he waits for his guest. Not many people in the joint, most of them seem to be on the other side of the room which suits him just fine. The culture shock continues for the wayward vigilante as this coffee house seems fitting for a rendezvous in the 40s rather than a 21st century meeting. No fluorescent tubes in the ceilings, just low-priced chandeliers that would look better with just a little bit of cleaning. No bright, shiny colors for décor neither, just the brown oaks and red brick designs of a generation long passed. Nodding to himself, he resigns himself to another cup while trying to push aside the criticism in his mind.
"You're the one I spoke on the phone with, aren't you?"
Turning to the speaker, his curiosity is marked with surprise for a brief second before returning to his usual, neutral expression. "Detective Montoya I presume?"
A hand to stop him at her rank, she advises him "Renee will do for now."
"How'd you know I called you?"
Sitting on the stool next to him, she asks for a coffee while informing him "It's my job as a Detective to notice these things. Most of the people Q tends to work with are people you'd usually see standing out of the crowd."
"Referring to why I'm not over by the rest of the people on the other end?"
"That and you have that same pensive stare Q tends to have, even when he's hiding behind that mask."
A sip of the hot liquid for his nerves, Gar has to mentally give her credit. So it's time for the most obvious question of all. "You sound just like him. I take it he's worked with you as well?"
"Usually when he's working on a case involving Gotham, otherwise he's a bit harder to get in contact with."
An ironic, though hushed laugh from Gar rises from his chest. "Funny, he always seemed to be listening in on me when I was back home."
"Ju.. I mean the West Coast, right? That's where you came from?" The coffee arrives just in time, the cold air seeps in as another customer makes his way in.
"Yes. And before we get too acquainted, let's make sure Q doesn't know I'm here." The cold has Gar sipping on his drink as well, trying to force that chill away. "As far as everyone knows back home, I'm either dead or I've been missing for a few months."
"On the run from the law or your past?" she asks honestly, a sense of knowing in her own eyes.
"A temporary escape while I get some focus back into my life. Gotham wasn't my first choice but here I am."
"Everyone has their secrets, we can leave it at that." Clearing her throat, the business returning at hand. "So, what do you need exactly?"
"I don't have any money at the moment, I didn't have time to get it before I left home. For the time being I need a place to sleep. Normally I'd sleep in abandoned buildings but Gotham's much colder this time of year than back home."
"As long as you don't do anything stupid, you can use my couch." Noticing the look on his face, she warns him "But don't get the wrong idea. You might be a friend of Q's but if you do anything stupid…"
The look of seriousness on his face seems just a bit more intense than her own, a fact she notes in her mind quite clearly. "You're a Gotham officer as well as a mutual friend. Trust me, after spending the last 8 weeks or so on a freighter, I'd be glad if you told me to sleep in a closet as long as I had a pillow."
That last comment brings a small laugh on her own part. "Yeah, you're definitely one of his friends. You have that same dry humor he has."
A smile on his own face, even a small one, he offers "I just lack his eccentric charm as he'd say."
To his relief, she doesn't make him sleep in the confines of a tiny closet. Even more to his relief was she even offered him use of her shower, a pleasure denied to him since the day prior to his beating at Baptist's hand. So what if the apartment was small compared with her detective's salary, it certainly beats living in a broken down gas station or a dirty clinic any day. A stiff couch beats a sleeping bag on rocks or a beaten, dusty sofa in a stale, weary garage.
Even as he lies on the couch, staring at the ceiling, he finds his thoughts drifting to his life over the past few months. The popcorn-spackled ceiling with faint traces of glitter shining in the window light outside seem like sparkles of stares he once stared out from the decks of the ship. The mighty Pacific giving way to the famed Atlantic, still doesn't take away the awkward feeling of being rocked to sleep each night by an unpredictable sea. The couch doesn't roll like his bunk, for good or ill, he can't be too sure…
"Maybe tonight I won't have nightmares. Maybe this city will treat me better than North Jump…"
… how very wrong he finds his hopes as he drifts off into sleep on this cold night in Gotham City.
A/N2: First chapter done, only took 2 hours to write. Before you ask (despite it being in the beginning), this is prior to the final arc of Redux 1. Gar's arrival in Gotham is four months before the end of that story. And before you ask me this one too, Jake didn't see Gar for real in his kitchen. Why did he dream about him? That's for later in this story. I like the idea that Question has more than one confidant, especially one that's rooted in the DC comics history. And yes, Gar will be going after Deadshot in this arc... but he's going to need some help from more than just Montoya, eh Mackie?
- Story title is "The City of Blinding Lights" ref. from U2's song of the same title.
- Arc title is "Under a Blood Red Sky" from the lyrics of U2's "New Year's Day", ironic considering I didn't realize the title's only 2 days off from the date of this chapter until just now.
- Yes, I'm including Detective Montoya from the Batman cartoons (but with more comics influence in this version, you'll see in the next chapter what I mean).
- The opening scene with the boat was influenced from the first scene in Grand Theft Auto IV with Niko coming to Liberty City.
Rhetorical: It's amazing how stories in your head just won't die, even if you try to kill them. But from here on out, this story's entirely new territory for me. After all, the original Watchman 3 only went halfway into it's plot, so this is gonna be new for to write and new for all of you (legit new, not just a new draft).