Commissioner James Gordon (lastgoodcop) wrote in gotham_lights,
Commissioner James Gordon
lastgoodcop
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November 29th - Noonish

James Gordon rides the elevated train through the center of Gotham, the sleek rail design vivisecting its way past towering office buildings done in both New and Old World motifs. He prefers this mode of transportation to a standard car for many reasons. The train was not belabored by traffic jams (though the occasional delay has caused many a wrinkle in his brow), and it offered him an unobstructed view of the great city in ways that ground transport could not. Gordon loves Gotham; for all of its pitfalls and shady dealings, there was nothing like the heartbeat of Gotham Square, its people and presence. He's seen Chicago; bided his time in Metropolis. But this -- the great mecca of the modern and civilized era -- could not barter for a fonder place in the old guy's heart.

He disembarks on Fleet Street, hands shoved into the pockets of his wool coat, steps sure and directional on the cracked pavement. The discovery of the body in the Harbor troubles him. The ME had volunteered his best estimate as to the cause and manner of death, but they wouldn't know anything definitive until the toxicology screen came back. Which could take another couple of hours. Jim supposes that the science isn't as expedient as, say, a one-hour photo kiosk, but his department thrives on results.

The brownstone he shares with his daughter is among the nicer flats on this particular block. A fine, wrought iron gate stands sentry at the hedge of a modest lawn, a paved sidewalk leading up to a short three-step porch. Barbara's bike leans against the interior fence, the chrome glinting brightly in the midday sun. Jim smiles. It was fortunate that his daughter's rigorous academic schedule and his bustling day at the precinct coincided in a shared hour-and-a-half lunch. Sometimes Jim wouldn't get home until the wee hours of the morning, and by that time his daughter would already be in bed. This was a golden opportunity for the two of them to catch up; for Jim to make good on his "diligent dad" duties.

He steps up the walk and turns his key in the door, calling out to the spacious foyer: "Babs? You home?"

(open to dojobookworm)
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"In the office, Dad!" Barbara beamed, turning off the computer monitor and spinning around in the office chair. The chair itself had been one of the town's few gifts to her father for his merits, and she'd insisted on his putting it in a place where it would be used, rather than sitting in a corner gathering dust.

"I didn't think I'd see you today...!"
Jim pawns his coat off onto the rack and removes his hat, knuckling the part in his ginger hair. He tracks his daughter's voice to the office, leaning in the doorframe with a cheshire grin. "I broke the chains of servitude and thought I'd celebrate by catching you before you headed off to your next class."

He advances into the office, thunking the large police folio onto one corner of the desk. "What about you? Did you finish your reading for English? I know you said you had a lot of other stuff to do before tomorrow." He props a hip to the corner of the mahogany monstrosity, peering down at his daughter with a fond smile. Barbara was one of the few things in his cluttered life that he knew he'd gotten right.
"Almost. It's just the summarizing now, and I can do that off the cuff tomorrow." Barbara got to her feet, wrapping her arms around her father's waist in a daughter's version of a bear-hug. "Everything else, I need to do at the library, and that's where I'm headed after math this afternoon." She paused, then sniffed. "Dad.... you smell like you fell in the city's biggest mud pud--" Her voice trailed off as she stepped back and looked him over.

"Ew. You look like it, too. ... Why don't you go change. I'll get you some lunch. And some fresh coffee."
Jim doesn' comprehend his daughter's mild teasing until he glances down at the stained kneecaps of his Dockers. Oh. Right. He grins sheepishly, effecting a light pat to those muddied knees.

"Thanks, Babs. You wouldn't believe what kind of morning I've had." He steps off into the bedroom, shucking his grass-and-mud stained trousers in exchange for a fresh pair. Barbara, in a moment of odd clairvoyance, had left them neatly pressed at the foot of his bed. His shirt is relatively undamaged (save for a few streaks of bright green on his elbows), and he's not exactly parading the runway later on this afternoon, so he leaves it be.

He emerges into their shared kitchen and rattles around, inhaling the aromatic perfume of percolating coffee. "I had an encounter with Batman and Robin down at Heights Harbor," he says offhandedly, sliding a sly gaze in his daughter's direction. He knew of Barbara's mild interest in the pair; especially the younger caped crusader. He removes two coffee mugs from the wall rack and cups them loosely in his narrow palms.

"They've taken an interest in our latest case."
Barbara whirled around, butter knife still in hand, narrowly missing a hip-check to the cutting board where her half-finished grilled cheese sandwiches lay. "Batman? And Robin, too? ... Must be some case. Is that the one you got toned out on this morning?"

So, maybe it was more than mild interest. Maybe she was fascinated with the costumed pair ... not because of most of Gotham's usual reasons, but because of all the help they gave her father. They had to be some kind of people to be willing to stand behind one of the few remaining clean policemen in the city, and Barbara had caught herself wishing more than once that she could find a way to show them her gratitude.
Jim, as a rule, did not like to bring his work home with him. He'd made that mistake when he was still with his wife: crime scene photos strewn upon the kitchen table, holding court beside bowls of peas and chicken piccata; coroner's reports getting mixed up with Barbara's fingerpaint creations; lauding relatives at holiday time with gruesome homicide statistics.

He'd been checked one Fall when Barbara was in fifth grade. At a parent-teacher conference her instructor had passed him a neatly-typed book report regailing John Douglas' treatise on violent crime. Jim can still hear the tacit disdain in the woman's voice: "This is not the kind of behavior we expect to see in a tweleve year old, Mister Gordon."

After that, Jim had made sure he kept his home life and his work life in opposite corners of the ring. Still. His daughter's innate tenacity hadn't stopped her from asking questions about his work, even when he was loath to give them. So he plays to her curiosity now, running two fingers across his brow as he watches her slather the bread with (what he hopes is) fattening butter.

"It's a difficult scenario. Body in the harbor; even the medical examiner was flummoxed." He retreats to the fridge to draw out a jar of dill pickle slices. "I think Batman and Robin can give us a leg-up, as crazy as that sounds."
"Doesn't sound crazy at all, Dad," she shrugged, dropping two thick slices of yellow cheese carefully onto each sandwich. "Batman's been a big help to you. To us - the city. Even if we might still be the only ones who think so."

Kneeling down, she pulled the well-worn skillet out from the kitchen cupboard, checking to make sure that the handle wasn't getting loose again. "Do they know something we don't?"
"Don't they always?" Jim's smile was a fond one, albeit muddied by frustration. It seemed that being Gotham City's acting police commissioner was only a superficial grace: when it came down to it (or, at least after the bureaucrats had their say), the force was understaffed and drastically underfunded. The previous Christmas he'd had to reneg on his promise to take Babs to the Carribean on holiday, instead purging his seasonal bonus on a new version of the VICAP software for the haggard boys down in violent crimes.

Head still tucked within the refrigerator, Jim withdraws a gallon of skim milk and quarters out two glasses. "They vanished before I could get a bead on their opinions, but I don't doubt that they're cooking something." He leans in over Babs' shoulder and plucks a slice of cheese from the stack. "Those look great," he says between mouthfuls of processed dairy, "you've got your mother's flair for the cullinary." This accompanied by a teasing wink; they both knew that Barbara the Elder's forrays into cooking usually met with charred something-or-other...or the arrival of the Gotham Fire Department.
"Dad..." Barbara shoots him a Look, patent pending, and drops the sandwiches down onto the skillet before turning up the stove. She knows he's only teasing, and yet something about the remark ruffles her. Maybe it's only a passing comparison, but ...

She sighs, shaking her head to purge the thought. "Well, maybe whatever Batman and Robin are cooking will come out better than my sandwiches."

Not as idly as she'd like, Barbara finds herself thinking - and not for the first time - that she wishes she could be as much of a help to her father as those two were.

But, she reminds herself, at least I stayed to help.
Jim wrangles some plates from the overhead cabinets, rattling Pyrex bowls and chipped china cups aside. The cabinet door -- courteously ajar -- gives the man a moment to nurture that pained expression: an amalgamation of niggling guilt and evident shame that he was indeed able to hold Gotham City in some kind of relative peace, but unable to extend that same sentiment to his own marriage.

He shuts the cabinet, butting his palm against the edge to facilitate a sure stick (he's been tinkering with the idea of replacing these niches for years) and drops the plates onto the table, doling out two printed napkins. Sliding into a chair, he lends his speculation to his daughter:

"They've come to our rescue in the past. Sometimes it takes an outside force to reveal what this old gumshoe can't." He shrugs absently.
"Kind of like having a spare set of eyes read a midterm essay, right?" She shrugs a little, her brief moment of rancor come and gone, water under the bridge. "Sometimes, I gotta wonder just what he does, you know? To be able to help you so much."

She takes the lifting spatula out of the utensil drawer and presses down on the sandwiches so they'll cook faster. "How much time have you got? You must not have a full break before you have to go back, with all this going on ..."
On cue, the pager clipped to his belt chimes in with a series of disruptive chirps. Jim removes it, checks the printed message, and grunts. "M.E.'s finished his autopsy. He wants me down at the hospital ASAP."

He glances up, face writ with apology. "Can you make that sandwich to-go?"

He'll make it up to her over the weekend. Maybe take her out to a nice restaurant before the crunch of finals time sets in.
She sighs, lifting one of the sandwiches with the spatula to check, then flips it over. "Sure, Dad. It'll just be another minute ... you can tell the M.E. it's my fault because I wouldn't let you out the door until you'd eaten."
Jim chuckles, rubbing his abdomen with a clutch of self-conscious fingers. "A man can't live on day-old donuts alone, huh?"

He rises from his chair, wincing as the familiar ache of his knee (an old football injury, he's proud to say) gives protest.

"Are you going to be late at the library tonight, hon?" He checks his pager again to make sure that he's read the message correctly, squinting at the tiny assemblage of digits. Clipping the device back on his belt, he looks to her.

"This thing at the precinct might take me a while. I don't want you coming home at night by yourself."
"I might," Barbara replied, pushing her hair back behind one ear as she waits for the sandwiches to finish cooking. "But don't worry about it, dad. I can take care of myself."
"Well, you know I worry," he says with a faint upquirk of his lips. He knows all-too-well that his daughter can fend for herself: there wasn't a villain in the city who knew what he or she was getting into when they happened to cross paths with his black belt progeny.

"Oh! Before I forget. Be careful with the thermostat, huh? It's been tempermental lately. I keep meaning to call someone about coming out to fix it, but you know how that goes." Yes, it was written within every Dad's rulebook to carefully monitor and mitigate the jurisdiction of the household thermostat. He steps over to the wall and twirls the dial, grunting at the thing's clack of a response.

"This whole house is falling apart," he observes wanly, "I should really take a day off and play Handyman." Jim Gordon in a toolbelt weilding a belt sander? Well, stranger things have happened...
"I'll have to sell tickets," she joked, slipping his finished sandwich first into wax paper, then tin foil, then a paper bag. "Here you go, Dad." Padding over, she stood on her toes slightly to give him a kiss. "Be safe, huh?"

She decides not to bother telling him that once he's out the door, she'll trek out to the laundry room and give the heating unit a few sound kicks to cajole it into starting.