A subtle glow rose above the horizon.
Night was losing the battle.
In a matter of minutes, day would invade in the unstoppable march of time.
Atop the fifteen storey police precinct, Jim Gordon stood with Gotham’s original vigilante. As of an hour ago, the latest threat to the city had been neutralized. An amicable silence had descended between the men who had known each other for more years than either would care to count.
“So, you’re back for good?” Jim asked.
Batman’s broad shoulders flexed ever so slightly. “In Gotham? Yes.” With that, he turned and walked away, the evening’s business at an end, the topic clearly closed.
Jim set his jaw. He had questions. To date he had held his tongue but… Hell, he felt entitled to answers considering his ‘friend’ had disappeared for twelve months, returning to Gotham a few weeks ago without any explanation. “The other Batman…”
Batman stopped and glanced back over his shoulder. “What about him?”
“He was good.” Jim snorted and shook his head. At what point had he started describing people who could perform miracles as ‘good’? “He was more than we could have hoped for in your absence, “ Jim fumbled. He wasn’t a man who gave compliments easily but felt compelled to say something. “He filled your shoes exceptionally well. I just thought you’d like to know.”
Batman turned around to face Jim and the police commissioner noted the look of pride flash across the other man’s eyes.
“I would expect nothing less of him.”
Jim chuckled. “Some fathers have high expectations of their kids.”
Batman smiled. Jim hadn’t seen the man smile so genuinely in years. “That we do, old friend. That we do,” Batman responded in a hushed voice.
Jim had always suspected the boy was Batman’s own. “He was the first… the original Robin. Nightwing.” Jim had had little face to face contact with Nightwing over the years… since he had shed the Robin costume and left the nest.
Batman’s chin dipped once in acknowledgement.
“So… where does he go now? Now that you’re back? I didn’t really have the chance to thank him.”
“He hasn’t gone far.” At this, there was movement and out of the disappearing darkness stepped Nightwing, the blaze of blue replaced with one of red. The reason Batman had lowered his voice was now evident. No doubt praise from him was rarer than Jim’s.
The younger vigilante winked. Instantly Jim noted the familiar upbeat spring in his demeanour, something which had been tamed while he’d worn the cowl. Despite some early teething problems, he’d taken on his father’s role and persona with ease. However, he certainly appeared more comfortable in his own skin, but then, aren’t we all? The tired police commissioner nodded a welcome.
Nightwing grinned. “Sir.”
Jim returned the smile. About ten months earlier, that single word had changed the commissioner’s attitude toward the new Batman. He’d done his best to hide who he was from Gordon, but that word – “Sir” - had slipped out. The moment the ‘new’ Batman had said it, Jim had put his finger on the feelings of familiarity. While Gordon had had limited dealings with him in recent years, he’d known this boy very well when he was the dashing young daredevil wearing red, green and yellow. Instantly, much of the anxiety the Commissioner had felt had disappeared. The only remaining concern had been if the former Robin could meet the challenges Gotham dished out… and he had.
For years, Jim had worried about what would happen to Gotham when Batman retired. Now he knew when that day arrived, Gotham would be in good hands.
Nightwing joined Batman and the pair strode toward the edge of the building.
“I hope you took note,” Nightwing stated jovially.
“Of what? The fact that you blew your cover?” Batman responded in a deadpan voice.
“I was thinking more of the ‘exceptionally well’, part.”
They stopped walking simultaneously. Batman said something Jim couldn’t hear but the boy burst out laughing and stated, “It’s good to know some things never change, Batman.”
“Amen to that,” Jim whispered. “Amen to that.”