|What: Gotham's District Attorney pays a visit to Commissioner Gordon, who is surprisingly back at work and seemingly healthy after his affair with the Joker.|
The lunch hour has just passed, and GCPD Headquarters at Precinct 1 is bustling with activity. The main operations floor, where most of the ranking officers have their offices strewn in a perimeter around a bullpen of Detectives, Sergeants and Beat Lieutenants, is where most of the action is happening today.
Jim Gordon has just concluded an afternoon briefing with the second shifters, who have all been called in early today. He's walking away from a visible position near a wall that is covered by a series of large bulletin boards, upon which are strewn mugshots, maps, and old-fashioned plot tracking machinations of criminal movements throughout Gotham City.
"I want Selina Kyle found, and I want her found immediately," Gordon is saying as he walks alongside the Captains of Precincts Two, Three, and Detective Charleston from the Major Crimes Unit. "This is to be considered our top priority, because the Joker has her, and it just might be easier to sniff -her- out than it will be him."
There's really no such thing as a quiet day in Gotham. There are days when fewer people have been kidnapped and less is blowing up. That's about as good as it gets. GCPD is predictably abuzz with activity, and that's hardly a surprise to the woman who comes striding into the building.
Janet, when inquiring as to the Commissioner's location, finds him in the bullpen with a fair number of the boys and girls in blue. She has a schedule. /They/ have a schedule, or at least a rough one. Janet (well, her assistant) brings boxes of bagels and a takeaway box of good hot coffee. Janet herself carries two hot cups from the local and fantastic shop on the corner. One's doctored just the way Jim likes it.
She doesn't interrupt, though. She listens with a faint frown, but she hovers at the edge of the meeting and waits rather than interrupting. Her assistant, a curly-haired and lanky young man with an eternal edge of nervousness about him, sets out the snacks for the officers on a mostly-disused desk.
"How would it be easier to sniff out Selina Kyle, when she's obviously in a madman's grasp?" asks one of the Captains.
"Use her friends, acquaintances, people she's stepped over on the social ladder." The voice of reason comes from Detective Charleston. "Find out which of them have enough influence to catch the Joker's attention."
Gordon slows, turning to eye Charleston surreptitiously. "Okay, I can go along with that." He points a warning finger toward the Detective, paired with a stern look. "But you make damned sure these people are tracked and protected. He had enough blood on his hands at Arkham, let's not be the ones who deliver more to him."
Noticing Janet, Gordon gestures dismissively with his hands. "Get me your initial reports by 3:45 sharp." Then he walks away from them, taking a few steps to close the distance between himself and an old friend. "Janet Van Dorn. Don't tell me you're here to demand I go back to the hospital. I don't need it." A smile forms beneath his mustache and he adopts a more personal demeanor. "How are you?"
A sharp cop. Always interesting. Might not be a bad thing, but it's worth wondering why. Sometimes people are just smart. Sometimes they have inside information. Janet's eyebrow arches just slightly and she makes a mental note.
As her assistant steps up to her, Janet turns quickly toward him: "All right; you know what to do. Head back to the office, and if anything dire happens, I've got my cell." He acknowledges this, gives Jim a quick and nervous smile, and hustles back to the door.
As the police disperse and Jim comes stepping up to her, Janet shakes her head and gives the Commissioner one of her rare warm smiles. Smiles from the DA are rare in general. Warm, friendly ones are rare as hen's teeth for anyone but her family and the Gordons. She reaches out to offer Jim one of the cups of coffee; when he takes it, assuming he does, she clasps his shoulder gently. "Apparently not," she says. "How on Earth did you come out of all that without a scratch on you? And I'm as well as I ever am. Gotham rumbles along as well as ever. It's actually been slightly /more/ interesting lately than usual. Care for a chat?"
Rare it is that Jim Gordon turns down coffee, especially free coffee, and today is not one of those days. "Oh good, I am getting so sick of Folgers," he remarks, while lifting the cup in a gesture of thanks. "I was going to try to schedule an appointment with you on Thursday," he notes. "But this is better. Come on."
Gordon leads her through the bullpen and right into his office, where the long, vertical blinds are left partly open. He makes a point to close the door behind her before saying another word.
"Yeah, about that. You know the 'masks', the ones Mayor Klass wants my cops to arrest in full? One of them showed up at the delivery scene in Chinatown. I don't know what he did to me, but whatever it was, it kept me from needing to go back to the hospital."
"You know, we don't get any better in City Hall. At least I have an assistant I can send out." It's an old sinecure position: traditionally, it was given to whatever son of a lawyer planned to be DA next. It's not the worst internship for a law student, anyway.
Janet follows Jim to his office, remaining quite silent until the door is closed. She walks to one of the chairs opposite the desk and settles herself as he begins. "We're usually of one mind on that," she says. Her opinions on arresting vigilantes are well known: they're just more gang members. Often, the ones in Gotham are just as violent as the ones who carry guns -- regardless of weapons.
As Jim goes on, though, her eyebrows perk: "Very public-spirited of him. I'm impressed. I'd be happier if he took off the tights and worked for Gotham General, but when it comes to you, I'll take what I can get."
The remark about tights earns a snort from Jim as he takes his proper seat. "He had the audacity to walk into this precinct, before the Arkham incident, only to deliver two thugs who'd mugged an old lady at gunpoint." He throw his hands up in dissatisfaction. "I don't know what to do about them, Janet. Honestly, I don't. Guys like this one, he calls himself Sentinel. Far as I can tell, he's not doing anyone any harm except people we should be arresting, and he's not arresting them with bullets and TASERs. But, he's a criminal, if not in moral code, than in the eyes of State, Federal, and Gotham law."
He leans back, reaching for his coffee while releasing a sigh from his chest. "My problem is, I can't justify wasting valuable resources trying to take down a man like -Sentinel-, who apparently can come to no harm from conventional firearms, when we've got real madmen like this Joker out there, blowing up asylums and murdering more cops than we've lost year to date in one incident."
Gordon is clearly not pleased with current events.
"Only if he commits crimes," Janet reasons. She takes a sip of her tea, nodding to the door: "I think it may actually be a crime to walk into the precinct with your face covered. And assaulting people, even criminals, is one of those laws everyone seems to agree on. And I'm with you on the resources. We can't afford to pull people off tracking down the Joker or any of the other clowns that run around our city."
She settles back, idly rubbing her temple and closing her eyes. "The problem is? Some of them are really hard to distinguish from the crazies. I don't think they'd be honest citizens if they weren't 'provoked' by vigilante violence, but there's a certain sense of upping the stakes. Making the fight more dangerous. Where they would have used guns, now they use bombs and poison gas and -- I'm preaching to the choir. I know."
Her voice softens then: "You make the decisions on police resources. I'll see if I can get Klass's mind on something else. I don't think it's exactly politically expedient right now for him to be suggesting shifting focus /from/ criminals like the Joker. Of course, my luck in getting him to care about things like neighborhood revitalization projects goes about as well as you might expect."
"You know," reasons Jim, leaning forward again after setting his cup of coffee down. "In the State of Kentucky, law protects a citizen using -lethal force- in making a citizens arrest, if the person being arrested is convicted of certain felonies. Murder, violent assault, armed robbery, things of that nature. Only the thing is, if the person arrested is found innocent, then the person making the citizens arrest is found guilty."
Again, this was something Janet probably already knew, but it was worth making that point verbally. "I understand those laws have been around for well over a century, but the point is, nobody ever overturned them."
Jim settles back and listens to the rest of what his trusted friend has to say, sitting with arms draped lazily over the armrests of his chair while his eyes look attentively from behind rimmed spectacles. "I can't say what exactly it is in the case of the Batman, but, you know, and it feels silly to even talk about it, but we are living in a world with mutants and freaks of nature like Pamela Isley. Hell, if you woke up one day and found out you could walk through walls, how would -you- respond?" He shakes his head. "The political community isn't interested in human -or- mutant rights, mental health, fairness and equality. It's interested in getting the upper hand and everyone else be damned."
He has a point to make, and the tone of his voice suggests that he's getting there, though he pauses to take a drink from his coffee. "My point is, we can't just arbitrarily wipe these people out. They need help, whether it be social services, legal protection from these crazy bigots like Sometimes out in Arizona, or mental health services like Isley. The real problem is, how the hell do my cops protect Gotham from these crazy people, -without- the help of a guy like Batman?" He shakes his head. "If only I could get him to work with me -directly-."
Careful, Jim. You almost already do.
Gordon's tone softens again, as if remembering just who it was who is sitting on the other side of his desk. "Sorry, Janet. Been a lot on my mind lately, and I haven't had a smoke since Arkham." He focuses again, this time folding his hands together in his lap. "You really think you can get Klass to cool it on this Batman hunting, let me free up my cops to handle the -real- problems for a while?"
These are some of the reasons she loves these meetings with Jim. It really is in some ways a meeting of the minds: for a couple of working-class kids, they're not slackers when it comes to brainpower and they're dedicated -- even devoted -- to a city that has seemed on the brink of collapse for years. Together, they make as much of a difference as they can. In Gotham, sometimes it's not a lot. Nevertheless, their dedication is unquestioned.
Frankly, that's what gets them into so much trouble.
Janet starts smiling again when Jim brings up Kentucky. It's an argument she's heard before. It's an argument she even likes. A simpler way to run things? Absolutely. Brutally simple. "Nobody ever overturned them /yet/," she murmurs. But she concedes the point with a little nod nevertheless.
As he goes on, Janet leans forward and gestures with her free hand: "I don't mean to say, and I certainly don't want you to think, that I'm a bigot. Mutants. Genetic experiments. Chemistry and biology accidents gone totally awry. Heck, even aliens. They're all people, Jim. That's the thing. People governed by the same laws and rules as the rest of us. I can sympathize. I do, especially every time I look across the aisle and see some smirking mob boss who gets off because he threatened a juror or bribed a judge. But dressing up in tights isn't the answer. Going into the community with your own face and making a difference without breaking the law. Volunteering. Organizing their communities. Joining the police force and making a difference."
She takes another long drink from her coffee, gazing out the windows behind Jim's head for a moment. For a moment she's silent. Pondering. Considering. "I can try," she says. "It would have been easier six months ago. After the election, he feels pretty safe. Still, I have a few people I can talk to. There's a fundraiser coming up for a community center in one of the border neighborhoods. Some of the organizers were campaign contributors, so if I can convince him that he'd like them to be contributors /next/ election cycle..."
When the thought of having a man like Sentinel on his police force crosses Gordon's mind, his lips curl into an almost predatory grin. "You know I'd hire them in a heartbeat," he points out, before settling back with his coffee and letting Janet have the floor for a few moments.
"Hey, I'll leave the politics up to you," he remarks, clearly having no taste for that game. "In the meanwhile, here's the deal. Target number one is the Joker. We're gonna have to keep our eyes on guys like Falcone, in case he tries to pull any of his stunts through them. Then there's this masked fellow, the one who bought me from Joker."
Surely she had read those reports. The elusive man, not necessarily one of the 'masks' per say, but still a criminal, who had purchased Gordon from Joker only to taunt him and string him up on that damnable spotlight.
"Frankly, Janet, I think I'm going to need to lean on a bit more 'external' support." There seems to be more he has to reveal on that subject.
"I know you would," Janet replies with a light grin. "If they applied, which they haven't -- or not openly, anyway. And if they survived the court battles determining whether or not they were technically human, because you know some waste of skin would try to contest that... Jim, can you imagine having a Metacrimes Division? I mean a real, state-supported team of specialists who could deal with these things without having to hope for vigilante justice?" She sniffs at the thought of Jim Gordon being bought and sold like a pair of shoes. "I guess we can add human trafficking to the Joker's bingo card. But this is exactly my point. You were used as an object lesson to someone who..."
Janet trails off at that point. It's an old argument, and one she doesn't feel like resurrecting. Besides, there's something more presently pressing on the table. She leans forward with a nod: "I talked to someone who said he'd spoken to you. 'External' support. And for once, without a mask."
It isn't often that Jim Gordon experiences something like a boyhood fantasy. Janet's mention of a Metacrimes Division comes close. His eyes widen a bit, and he has to sit back into his chair, it's aged leather and old legs creaking a bit. "Metacrimes Division," he muses aloud. "I'd name the first building after your father," he points out, allowing a grin to form.
Sadly, the grin fades, as do most of those kind of subjects in these days.
Folding his hands together, Jim lets her second observation die silently, for it was one he wouldn't exactly disagree with her on. Was the Batman necessary? Jury's still out on that one.
"Did you, now?" he asks, eyebrows rising slowly upward. "You know, I had a similar incident not long ago." A half-knit expression lying somewhere between suspicion and denial forms on the Commissioner's aging face.
It makes her smile to see the man grin. More so to grin at that beautiful thought: "Dad would have approved. He always had a lot to say about the Rights of Man. Wherever that man happened to come from."
But reality still waits outside in the freezing rain and the missing Miss Kyle. And the curious incident of the agent in the nighttime. Janet inclines her head slightly in assent, draining the last of her coffee and setting it aside. "A concerned citizen," she says. "Who wasn't afraid of showing off. I'm a little concerned about his jurisdiction, but his bona fides were hard to contest. And the sandwich was fantastic."
"I know," is all the Commissioner has to say for acknowledging Janet's father and his way with people. It was why they became good friends.
Gordon had a way with hunches, however, and so he leans forward and gambles upon one. "Did this man happen to go by the nickname 'Geiger'?" he asks, quizzically.
Janet's brow wrinkles and she shakes her head slightly. "Not to me," she says, "but that's not saying he might not to someone. I talked to a man with a SHIELD ID. He /said/ he'd talked to you, but I didn't catch a codename." Her mouth quirks up at the corner: "I think he knew how unlikely it was that I'd call him by it. Or talk to him unless I had a proper name."
"Well, that would be him," Gordon confirms. "Unless there's another SHIELD agent who spoke with me that I don't know about." He sits back again, hand curling around the styrofoam mug of coffee. "I have to admit, even though I've made some good connections with the FBI and DEA, having a connection with this SHIELD organization could be just what Gotham needs. In fact..."
This was exactly what Gordon had wanted to bring up.
"... I plan to begin sending them information updates from the MCU."
Janet sucks in a deep breath and leans back, resting her hands on the arms of her chair. "SHIELD has, as far as I can tell, legitimate jurisdiction in the United States on issues that could have an effect on the global stage. I think we also have a special deal with them where they can act within federal, state, and local jurisdictions with the understanding that they'll be held responsible for their actions if anything goes wrong. And would you tell Captain America he wasn't welcome in Gotham?" Janet sure wouldn't. Her grandfather had been a World War Two veteran. There was actually a picture in her office of him shaking hands with the good Captain in 1943.
"I plan to cooperate. Of course I plan to cooperate. And he hasn't asked more of me just yet apart from the ability to meet with me when something comes up that requires special attention. Jim, you realize you /could/ get into trouble for this. Their jurisdiction really is... debateable."
Following a few nods of agreement and arbitrary sips of coffee, Gordon nearly spits a response. "Hell no! Man like that's welcome in Gotham any time. As long as everything is cleared and accountability is held? No complaints from me."
It's a sobering comment, of course, and one that has kept Jim up at night, if not working late. "If it's debateable, then that means it's still under debate." He raises a hand, finger extended. "Not outlawed. I won't let some Washington bureaucrat with his hand halfway up Hammer Industries' ass dictate consequences to me until -after- SHIELD is shut down, or proof is granted to me that it's a sham. Until then?" A little smile forms on Gordon's face. "Plausible deniability, Janet."
Janet's grin broadened. "If he ever came, I'd be at the front of the line of people organizing a ticker-tape parade. D'you think it's /possible/ to give someone a ticker-tape parade anymore?" Her eyes are actually twinkling at the idea.
She clears her throat then, though, and nods her agreement. "It doesn't go outside our offices. Yours and mine. Most any information they can get from us could just as easily be intel they got from anywhere else. Some smart detective gets a brilliant idea. Smart deduction. Just let's make sure nothing happens that a sneaky defense lawyer can't hang an overturn on."
"Hey, you know," answers Gordon, "Maybe we'll live to see the day it happens right here in Gotham."
When the conversation turns back to their elusive SHIELD contact, Gordon nods his head slowly, pausing to take a final sip of his coffee. "That sounds like a plan," he murmurs. He never enjoyed treading on shaky ground like that, but had come to accept that it was a necessary evil. One cannot fight the corruption in Gotham without getting his hands a little dirty, he'd learned that the hard way.
Suddenly, there is a rapping of knuckles against the glass door into Gordon's office. He looks up only to see Detective Benson of Homicide, one of his most trusted. "Listen, I'll stop by your office before the week's over, give you a debrief on the Joker hunt, among any other things that turn up okay?"
It was one of the things she sincerely hated about her job. She had to make deals. Sometimes the deals were rotten ones. She's always stayed on the sunny side of the law, or at least as far as she could tell. Any time she crossed? Well. It was like this. She wasn't breaking the law because the law didn't exist yet to cover it.
As Jim looks up, though, Janet rises and extends her hand. "I'll see you then. Your turn to buy the coffee," she adds, flashing one last smile. But then it's back to business: paperwork. Cases. Maintaining as best as they can. Rowing, as the Dutch say, with the oars they have.