Warnings: death!fic as per the prompt. My apologies in advance.
Summary: Leaving things unsaid in a city that shows no mercy will only lead to heartbreak and regret.
A/N: Written for this prompt over at thck_as_thieves . This prompt was a challenge to myself as I've never written tragedy successfully (I'm a sucker for happy-ending angst). That said, any thoughts would be welcome and appreciated.
The turnout for Commissioner Gordon’s memorial is tremendous. Most of Gotham lines the streets for the procession, faces somber as the air is filled with the sounds of weeping. Garcia speaks first, the sorrow in his face and his words genuine. Harvey and Renee both speak as well, bringing more tears to the people in the crowd. There are mutters of surprise as Bruce Wayne approaches the microphone, but everyone is silent when Gotham’s Prince begins to speak.
His appeal to speak at Gordon’s memorial had been solemn and honest, and Garcia had taken a long moment to assess the sentiment behind the supposed playboy’s request before nodding in the affirmative.
“Most of you knew the Commissioner as one of the finest cops Gotham City has ever seen,” Bruce began, calling upon every technique he knew to maintain composure. “Some of you also knew him as a good friend and a good father. I knew him as the man who knelt in front of a frightened, grief-stricken little boy on the worst night of his life, and told him that everything was going to be okay.
Jim Gordon was a man of the highest character, a man that saw this city as worth protecting at any cost, no matter how bad things got. He gave his life in the line of duty because he believed that we were worth saving. He was a man I respected above all others for his kind heart and dedication, and I know that I speak for everyone here when I say that he will be sorely missed.”
Bruce stepped down from the podium to join Alfred in the crowd as Stephens gave the final speech. He couldn’t stop the flinch as the honor guard fired the first shots. Only Alfred’s comforting hand on his shoulder kept the tears at bay.
Inside, he felt himself slipping.
The actual funeral service is a closed ceremony. Stephens, Montoya, and Bullock are all there, with Barbara and the kids standing huddled together beside the grave, a few others standing further back. They all weep freely as the casket is lowered into the ground. All present step forward, tossing white lilies into the ground one by one. Jim’s grave is beside one of the few willow trees left in the city, the cemetery one of the only places where they can grow.
Most people leave after that as rain begins to fall, until only Jim’s family and three closest friends remain. As the six finally turn to leave, Batman emerges from his position beneath the bows of the tree. The white rose he holds stands in stark contrast against his black garb, and he stares mournfully at the grave before him. Jim’s grave. Partner, friend, lover…
“I love you,” Bruce whispers hoarsely into the rain. He watches his hands shake as he tosses the rose into the grave. Another love, lost to him forever.
He feels himself falling further and further.
A small cry is his only warning before a small body slams into his side and latches on. Heart wrenching sobs fill the air as Bruce looks down to where Jimmy is pressed against him, crying into his side. Bruce is at a loss, and he looks up to where he’d seen Barbara and the kids leaving.
Out of the four adults watching, Barbara is the one who locks eyes with Gotham’s dark knight. Bruce is surprised to see not hatred or blame in her eyes, but profound sorrow and a spark of understanding that he tries desperately to ignore. He looks back down at Jimmy as the boy shifts to look up at him.
“It wasn’t your fault,” Jim’s son sniffles, and Bruce can’t help the hitch in his own breathing. It was a statement, not an attempt at self-assurance.
Bruce kneels before the boy. “I’m sorry,” he rasps, and Jimmy just shakes his head as the tears start anew. Instead of pulling away Jimmy leans forward and wraps his arms around Bruce’s neck, burying his face in his idol’s shoulder.
“He wouldn’t want you to be,” Jimmy whispers, and the only response Bruce can give is to wrap his own arms around the boy in a return embrace.
He visits the roof of the MCU almost every night after the funeral, driven by the chaos swirling within him. There is an abyss calling out to him, and Bruce knows that something is finally going to snap sooner rather than later. Just one little nudge…
Renee is waiting on the roof two weeks after Jim’s burial with a troubled look on her face. She only hands him a sealed envelope and says, “Jim’s will said to give you this.” Then she walks away.
He reads it later that night in the bedroom he once shared with Jim…and feels himself slip over the edge and plummet into the waiting despair.
If you’re reading this, I want you to know that I love you. I’m sorry things have turned out as they have, that I wasn’t able to remain with you. You were one of the best things to ever happen to me, and I don’t regret one moment. Please don’t give up on Gotham, on what we helped rebuild. You are the best man I have ever known, and I hope you don’t lose sight of the good in life and in people. I hope that this last act will help to ease some of your burden, now that I no longer can.
I love you forever.
Alfred enters to find Bruce on his knees in the middle of the floor, harsh sobs wracking his frame. The old man simply kneels in front of his grieving ward, gathers him into his embrace, and sits with him carding fingers through his hair as the young man weeps long after the sun has risen.
The following day, the press releases the shocking revelation. Alongside familial matters and inheritance items, Jim Gordon’s will contained conclusive pieces of evidence and signed witness statements exonerating Batman of the crimes he was accused of the night Joker’s reign of terror ended.
Bruce feels only pain as he continues to weep tears of anguish and hollow regret.