Lawndales Finest

 

Detective Stories

 

Issue Three: The Line of Duty

“A friend is, as it were, a second self.”
- Marcus Tullius Cicero




Harvey Dent, Assistant DA, parked his car a few houses away from the crime scene. He stared around for a moment. He wondered how a place so peaceful could be where a crime of this nature had been committed. He opened the door of his car and strode towards the crime scene, nodding his way at all the uniformed men that surrounded the house.

“Where's the body?” He asked the female officer standing by the door.

The woman drew a single breath and stirred, “Second door to the right, sir. You can't miss it.”

He prepared to get inside but stopped himself for a second, “that bad?”

“Wouldn't know about it sir, didn't see the body.”

He nodded and walked his way into the house. He noted that the whole place was perfectly clean, like an army of maids had gone through the place. But there was one exception there, one mirror had something written in blood. One of the CSU guys was taking pictures of it.

Dent looked at the writing and frowned, “‘I baked a cake once, but it fell and killed the cat.’ What does that even mean?”

The CSU guy lowered his camera and frowned at Dent, “I'm pretty sure I heard it somewhere sir, but it probably has something to do with the body over there.”

Dent blinked, “Heard it before? Never mind.” He walked into the crime scene and made a face. There was a distinctive smell of... burnt chocolate along with something else, something more sinister.

The second he saw the corpse on the bed, chocolate and birthday cake candles all around him and a smile carved on his face, he had the intense need to throw up all his lunch. But he controlled himself and forced himself to look, to really look, at the scene.

“Who found the boy?” He asked one of the CSU guys that had been taking pictures of the scene.

“We put him over there.” The CSU guy pointed at the door directly opposite from the one with the body. “Pizza Delivery guy. He's the one who found the body. Needs an ambulance or something, it's like he never saw a dead body before.” The man smirked and resumed his work.

Dent shook his head. “This is not my first murder scene and I want to be catatonic.” He told himself, and decided to talk to the boy. “Hey, there, can you tell me your name?”

The pizza delivery boy blinked a few times. “Artie, I'm just a delivery guy.” He said, and immediately munched a cookie from a paper bag that Dent was sure hadn't been there a second ago.

“Artie, who called for Pizza, do you know that?”

“The dead guy, I think.” The redheaded teenager said, pointing at the room with the corpse.

“Right.”

“Artie here arrived twenty minutes after the call was made, that puts the murder sometime after ten,” Said a gruff voice all too familiar to Dent. He turned around and gave out a small smile at his friend, Captain James Gordon. “I already talked with the kid, an ambulance is waiting for him.”

Artie's face fell a little. “It is?”

Dent gave a look at the kid. “You don't want to go?”

“I thought I could be of some help.” He took another cookie from the paper bag and ate it voraciously.

“We're going to get a full, formal interview from him later.” Gordon nodded and then frowned at the bag, “One last thing before that, how did you find the body anyway?”

“No one answered the door when I got here, but it was open. I thought it was aliens so I decided to take a look. Imagine my surprise when I found out that this was the work of Gotham's newest serial killer.” He replied, and put another cookie in his mouth. He noticed the captain looking and extended the bag at him, “Want one? It's the last one!”

Gordon seemed to be about to bark at him, but instead accepted the paper bag. “You're out of cookies now, leave. We don't want you to go crazy or something.”

“Right! Well, it was a pleasure to be of help!” He got up with unusual ease and ran to the door like there was no tomorrow.

Dent scowled at the boy. “Are you sure he's just a witness?”

“I have a hunch he's not involved.” He narrowed his eyes at the paper bag and carefully put it in a evidence one. “I will ask the lab guys to check this for prints.”

“Prints? Didn't you just tell me you don't think he's involved?”

“A hunch is not something you use as evidence, you should know that.”

Dent shook his head. “You're over-thinking this way too much.” He seemed to realize something. “Why are you here anyway? Aren't you too busy with the Batgirl task force?”

Gordon turned to stare at the body. “This is part of the Batgirl case, Dent.”

“Funny of you to say that, this being the fourth victim and you being here for the first time.” He followed Gordon back to the murder scene, and forced himself to look at the victim. “Or you know who this poor fellow is?”

“I haven't got a clue. The Commissioner didn't want me to snoop around the Joker Killer's case-files. But you know what, I found a connection with my case, so this one is now mine.” He approached the body and carefully picked up something stuck in the chocolate. He raised his hand to the light and frowned.

Dent blinked. “A green hair?”

“Maybe.” Gordon replied and put the hair in another evidence bag. “Anyway, so far all the Joker's victims have something to do with Ace Chemicals.”

“And Batgirl was spotted snooping around there.” Harvey shook his head, “That's the connection?” He waved at the body, “This is not Batgirl's doing, and you know it.”

“No, it isn't. She's a vigilante, but she doesn't kill. Or at least not so far. But have you ever heard about the word 'escalation'?”

“Meaning...?”

“She thinks she's helping the city, but all she's doing is attracting loons that make it worse. First Manson with her Scarecrow act and now this Joker Killer.” He turned to face Dent with a dead serious expression. “I'm telling you, this is only the beginning.”

“Maybe she's doing more good than bad, you know this city could do without all the vermin going around running things.” Dent almost whispered at his friend. “And I honestly don't see how Scarecrow and Joker are her fault.”

“Either way, I'm going to use my unit catch the murderers that arise because of her.” Gordon continued examining the body, angering the CSU but never even bothering to apologize to him. “I'm not saying it's directly her fault. I'm saying she's probably biting off more than she can chew.”

Dent looked down, not really able to reply to that. “So, you don't know who this man is.”

“The house was on sale, no one was living here. I checked with the real estate broker. She's actually furious because this will devalue the price of the house.” He chuckled. “So whoever called the Pizza Delivery guy-”

“-was the killer.” Dent finished for him. “But I thought you had determined the time of death because of the call.”

Gordon found a few more green hairs and put them all in an evidence bag. He got up and sighed. “He was killed here. He didn't die instantly, we know he was tortured. And the neighbors assure me that they saw an ice-cream truck about five minutes before the call was made.”

Dent nodded and realized he was again feeling like throwing up, “Hence, he was alive before the call.”

Gordon grunted in reply.

They left the scene, not seeing any more reason to be there. “So, really. You just happened to find the connection, even with the higher-ups wanting you not to find it?” Dent smirked at the man. “How did you find out this has something to do with Batgirl?”

Gordon grinned and shook his head. “Funny thing, that. I found the files on the first murder on my desk, along with a list of people working on Ace Chemicals and Patrick, our first victim's name, underlined.”

Dent stopped walking, “You- her-”

“Yes, I'm sure it was her way of saying we're on the same team,” Gordon smirked, “and truthfully, I thank her for this, real police work at last.”

 

Dent whistled as he followed Gordon inside his task force's HQ. Not because it was impressive in any way, but because of the opposite. It was a dump. “So this is the rock they hid you under.”

Gordon rolled his eyes and put his coat on a chair. “At least it's close to a Starbucks.” He took one of the paper cups that Dent was carrying and took a sip from it.

Dent grinned and looked around, it was a small office, filled with dirt and old police equipment he was sure belonged to the eighties, maybe the seventies. The main attraction was an old blackboard that had all the information the task force had acquired since its creation.

He chuckled at the only Batgirl photograph in there. It was dark, blurry and you could barely see her glowing red eyes. It came to no surprise to him that there was a crossed out caption under it that read 'Bat-man'. It had been only recently replaced with one that read 'Batgirl'.

“Any suspects?”

Gordon massaged his eyes and turned his head to look at the board, “At first I thought it was you.”

“Really?”

“Then we found out we weren't dealing with a Bat-man, but a Batgirl.” Gordon took a sip from his coffee and narrowed his eyes.

Dent kept looking at the board. “Batgirl, why ‘girl’ and not ‘woman’?”

“Have you seen her? I will call her Batwoman when she is old enough to drink.”

Dent nodded. “I haven't really met her,” He said, carefully evading Gordon's line of sight so his friend could not tell this was a lie.

Gordon smirked and rolled his eyes. “I'm sure you will meet her sometime, I got suspects.”

“You do?”

“Whoever is going around doing what she's doing must obviously be filthy rich, there are not many of those around here that fit her profile.”

“She could be stealing the equipment she uses, or maybe she's got superpowers like that Supergirl.”

“Her being a meta-human was one of my first thoughts, I got to admit,” Gordon pursed his lips and shook his head, “but no, I'm sure she's a regular human being.”

Dent raised an eyebrow. “I don't know any girl that can beat the crap out of a gang.”

“You could be surprised.”

The ADA nodded and read some more from the board, there was a mug shot of the woman formerly known as Manson -now Scarecrow- along with a few lines of text that read 'appeared on the scene before the police. Student of Lawndale High?'

Before Harvey could even pronounce a word, Gordon was already answering. “I already ruled that out.”

“Not a student, then?”

“Not from that school at least, but the fact remains she was at the scene before anyone else.” He took another sip from his coffee and made a face. “She was there before it happened. Some of my men think she had something to do with it.”

“What, she was part of Scarecrow's crew and decided to cross her for some ulterior motive?” Dent shook his head, “They gave you crap-cops or what?”

“Hey! That's no way of talking to the cap you piece of ****! Take that back!” a voice said from behind them.

Dent cocked his head in surprise at the newcomer and blinked. “Excuse me?” He was now staring at a young detective he didn't know. The man looked like he had some sort of military training, but his fedora hat and coat made him look like an idiot.

Gordon face-palmed and shook his head in dismay. “Bullock, that's the ADA you just called a piece of ****.”

Detective Bullock widened his eyes for a second, then snorted, feigning indifference. “So, another dirt-bag politician. What's new?”

Dent was almost laughing at the detective's obvious nervousness. “Gordon, where did you get this one from?”

“Harvey Dent, meet Harvey Bullock. A loyalist.”

Bullock seemed to realize that Dent was a friend of Gordon's and extended his hand, looking friendly for a change. “Uh, sorry, sir.”

They shook hands and Dent seemed to remember something. “Bullock. Of course. You're the only officer in the force that helped Gordon save those kids from Flass and his idiotic men.”

Gordon nodded. “You told me before that I was the only good cop in this city, well, here's the proof that you were wrong.”

Dent smiled. “Good to know.”

“But he can be a bit too rough at times when dealing with suspects.” Gordon added, leveling a glare at Bullock, who looked like he was having the time of his life for a second.

“Sir, I told you, he called my mom a-”

“I don't want to hear a word about it,” Gordon raised his hand to shut him up, “Anyway, what did you get from Ace Chemicals?”

Bullock closed the door behind him and put a heavy, dusty file on top of the table. “Everything we got on Ruttheimer and his associates. Nothing can be traced to criminal activity.”

“Yet.” The ADA said and took the folder, carefully examining it.

Gordon took a cigar and carefully put it between his teeth, “What about the Morgendorffer girl?” he lit a match and held it up to the cigar.

“Montoya and Driver are with her, she hasn't woken up yet.” Bullock scratched the back of his head, looking ashamed that he had been working all night and had nothing to show for it. He blinked, remembering something that he had put on the back of his mind hours ago. “Oh, right. There's the thing about Ruttheimer's son. He was supposed to do some sort of magic show with his uncle. Never showed up.”

The captain furrowed his brow at him and pushed his glasses up his nose. “I've seen the kid before. Quinn Morgendorffer's boyfriend.”

Dent raised an eyebrow. “And how would you know that?”

“She came by my office a few times last month following some sort of lead on a story for the paper. He was her ride and I can read body language.” He massaged his chin and blinked. “He was there.”

“There?” The two Harvey's said in stereo.

Gordon abruptly stood up and hurried to his office, less than twenty seconds later he came back with a photograph and put it on the board. “This is the ambulance where the Morgendorffer girl was found. We know there was someone else there, someone that had been strapped on the second gurney.”

Bullock bit his thumb, “A magician would have no problem getting rid of the straps.”

“Right,” Gordon said as he put a few more photographs on the board, showing the three dead paramedics. “Victims number One, Two and Three. They saw him, so they had to die,” Gordon said and realized what he had deduced, “We're looking for a kid.”

Bullock forced himself to look away from the board, “Are you sure, boss? It could've been the father. No one knows where he is and-”

Dent glared at Gordon. “Three more vics? You already knew there was a connection with your case before Batgirl dropped you that hint, didn't you?”

Gordon waved his hand, “Of course I knew, that paramedic's grin is not something you can just skip over.”

“Right.” Dent stood up. “I will try to get a manhunt on the kid.” He nodded at Gordon and then stared at Bullock for a brief moment, “You go to Lawndale High and get me a yearbook picture of him.”

“But I have-”

Gordon nodded, “Go and do as the man says.” The detective nodded and left the office without saying another word.

Dent slowly followed the other man but stopped by the door. “James, why didn't you tell me about those paramedics before?”

“You're the ADA, you shouldn't need a Captain to tell you what's going on around here.” Gordon put his cigar away and closed his eyes. “I needed to know if you knew about it, but I couldn't tell you directly.” He took a drag from his cigar, “I never thought you were dirty or anything like that. I just wanted to know if the people above you were involved in any way.”

“And now we know they somehow are.” Dent realized and took another glance at the dead paramedics. “Damn, a serial killer. What could drive a kid to do something like that?”

“I expect Morgendorffer to be able to shed us some light on that matter,” the Captain explained, “but that's not important right now, go do your thing. Hopefully this Joker Killer will be behind bars before nighttime.”

“Or he may kill another one,” muttered Dent to himself before leaving.

Gordon stared at the spot where his friend had been until only a minute before and then his cell-phone rang. He let it ring two more times before picking it up. “Gordon speaking.” He nodded to himself, “I will be right there.” The officer on the other end of the line screamed something at him. “Don't worry about her sister, she just needs a familiar face.” He stood up, holding the cell phone to his ear with his shoulder. “Yes, we know each other, we go way back.” He put the phone away, looked at it for a moment and decided it was better to tell Dent about it.

 

The ADA was just about to open the door to his car when his phone rang, he looked at the caller ID and wondered why Gordon would call him less than a minute after his departure. “You forgot something?”

“Quinn Morgendorffer is awake. I'm going to Cedars of Lawndale to speak with her.” Came his friend's voice from the other end of the line.

Dent paused, “That's actually good news. Has she told your men anything about Ruttheimer's son?”

“Her sister doesn't want her to speak with anyone on the force she doesn't trust.” Dent could hear him walking, “See you later.”

Dent nodded and opened the door to his car. “Right, crazy world never gives us a break. Good luck then.” He pressed the red button ending the call and shook his head.

Suddenly, he felt something pointy pressing on his side. “Sometimes the only sane answer to an insane world is insanity, isn't it, Dent?”

He froze. “Charles Ruttheimer the Third?”

“Joker would be a more appropriate nickname, all things considered, don't you agree?” Joker pushed him inside the car, all the way to the passenger's seat.

“Now, aren't you that Two-Faced lawyer everyone is talking about?” Joker grinned wildly, handling the knife like it was a baton. “I just came from your boss' place. He sang like a bird.”

Dent swallowed hard under the gaze of the maniac. The younger man's maniac grin, his eyes that seemed like they were about to pop any moment, his chalk-white skin and his insane green hair made him look more like a monster than anything he had seen in his entire life. And he had thought as a kid that 'It' was a scary clown.

There was a pause, and then: “You killed the DA?”

Joker looked at him with puppy-eyes, “Maybe?”

“Maybe?”

“Oh, he's still alive. But not for long.”

Dent glared hard. “Where are you holding him?”

Joker seemed to think for a second and then replied, “What's the time?”

“What difference does that make?”

He gave out a Glasgow smile. “Well, depending on the time, he may in one spot, or several.”

Joker started driving like there was nothing wrong with the situation. He was humming something under his breath that made Dent remember an old Bond movie. It was like he was waiting for him to react.

“What do you want?” he finally said, always staring at the knife pointing at him.

“Well, for one thing, my face on the one dollar bill.”

“You must be joking.”

“Do I look like I'm joking?”

“You are the Joker.”

“Right in one.”

“What do you want?”

“Now that you ask, it would be wicked feisty if I was suddenly a Dictator. Why, he makes love to beautiful women, drinks champagne, enjoys life and never works. He makes speeches to the people promising them plenty, gives them nothing, then takes everything!”

Dent only growled at him.

“From what I can tell you were never directly involved in the Ace Chemicals circus, but you also know names and a few things I'm deeply interested in, one in particular I want to know ASAP.” Joker made a left turn, not caring about a red light. A bystander was run over. “Bull's-eye, aye?” Joker grinned at Dent and then frowned, “A shame I got the wrong bull.”

“What do you want?” The ADA repeated.

“I don't know. This whole thing was my idea, but I don't reflect much on it.” Joker paused to think and then laughed merrily, “Really, I just go with the flow.” Another person was run over. “For example, look at that poor man, he probably needs my assistance!” He shifted gears putting the car into reverse and running over the man a second time. “There, now we don't have to listen to his moans!”

“That's a human being, you demented freak!”

“The characters in this picture are all fictitious. Anyone resembling them is better off dead.”

“You will be dead when I get my hands around your skinny white neck.” Dent narrowed his eyes, “I will break every bone in your body, that much I can promise you.”

“Oh, it's not like I'm planning to kill you or anything,” Joker said, his face for the first time looking barely normal, “I will let you go once you tell me where Quinn is.”

“Like hell I'm going to tell you that.” He spat at the younger man, “Besides, you are not known for being merciful.”

“Are you calling me a liar?” Joker seemed actually offended by the mere idea. “I would never lie.” He told the ADA, carefully putting the knife mere inches away from his eyes. “I would only willfully participate in a campaign of misinformation!”

“That's it!” Dent cocked his head to the side and attempted to grab the serial killer's knife. He didn't expect, however, the other man to be ready for this and point at him with a revolver with his other hand. Dent noted that the freak wasn't even bothering to hold the steering wheel at that point. Half a dozen more people were run over on the sidewalk.

“Now, now, now. You wouldn't want a piece of lead between your eyes, would you? We are having a nice conversation here,” he nodded to himself, “a nice conversation.”

“I'm not going to tell you the girl's location, clown-face.”

“That's fine. I could always go Zippity do dah, zippity-ay, I'm gonna blow all your body-parts away. Plenty of bullets I'm gonna spray, Zippity do dah, zippity-ay on you.” Joker muttered and then noticed a drive-thru McDonald's. “Oh! Mesa want a shake! Icky, icky goo!”

"Really? I didn't take you for a Jar Jar Binks fan." Somehow, the snide didn't come off as strong as he had intended it. It sounded more like a weak man's angry, nervous, attempt at appearing strong.

“There's always a dark side in every person, my dear friend.” Joker said as he slowed the vehicle next to the microphone that had Ronald McDonald's face on it. “I always liked the original version of the character, you know.”

“I bet you do.” Dent said, still trying to figure out a way out of the situation.

A feminine voice came from the speaker. “Take your order, please?”

“Yes indeed, thank you.” Joker said politely and then started rambling at full speed, “I'd like the big beefer, heavy mustard, double pickles, three strips of bacon, make 'em crispy, ranch dressing on the side-”

“Ah, sir, you'll have to talk slower-”

He didn't bother to listen to the woman as he kept on going, increasing the speed with which he talked. “-side order of fries also crispy, one of those fake pie thingees with the boiling hot juice inside that scalds the roof of your mouth, I love that-”

“Sir-”

“-two of your special shakes, a girl's kiddie meal and I'll pay extra for a full assortment of the toys that come with it.”

SIR! You were talking way too fast. You'll have to repeat all that.”

Joker's face turned dead serious. “Of all the incompetence!” He pressed the gas pedal and stopped just by the window were the woman was. He pointed his finger at her, “Listen to this, you brain-dead Amoeba! I have better things to do than repeat myself ad nauseam in the fleeting hope that through divine intervention you might somehow triumph over your own crushing ignorance and get one item of my order right!”

“Sir, I-”

“I demand to see your manager!”

The man in charge put himself between the woman and the Joker, obviously not knowing who he was dealing with. “I'm sorry, sir. How may I help you?”

Joker raised the revolver at him, and pulled the trigger. Everyone widened their eyes at the act, completely stunned. But then, they all realized that a flag with 'BANG!' written on it had appeared from the barrel of the gun. The Joker looked down at the weapon with confusion for a moment, and then seemed to remember. “Oh, right. The punchline.” He pressed the trigger a second time and then, with a blam the flag impaled the man on the face. “Boom goes the dynamite.”

Joker started the engine again and drove off, a frown appearing on his face. “I really wanted those shakes.” He shook his head and waved the weapon like it was a toy, “Oh, well! Life is filled with disappointment!”

He seemed to forget that he was no longer pointing the weapon at Dent, and the ADA took advantage of this, by punching the maniac in the face. “Owowowow!” Joker cried out, much in the same manner as one of Three Stooges would have.

Dent tried to push the insane clown to the window while at the same time fought with him for control of the steering wheel. For a second they looked at each other's eyes, and both of them knew the other wasn't going down without a fight.

“You spit on everything that's decent in this world!” Dent growled at him.

Joker was still chuckling like it was all one big joke nobody else got. “But of course!” He paused to think about it for a moment, “Only, there are not a whole lotta things decent in this city.”

The car made a wild turn and crashed into a light post. Several people approached them, Dent made a move to alert them of the danger the boy represented, and Joker took advantage of the second the older man had given him. He opened the door and then threw his knife at the ADA, hitting him on the shoulder.

Dent grunted in pain but managed to grab the revolver and point it at the retreating form of the insane clown. He pulled the trigger but nothing happened.

“We interrupt this program to annoy you and make things generally irritating.” The joker giggled and started walking away. “I'm sorry to inform you, but that's a one-trick pony!”

Dent breathed in and out, he didn't dare to touch the knife planted in his shoulder for fear of losing too much blood. “You-” He fell limp trying to follow the homicidal maniac.

Joker turned and grinned, “Oh, that blade's got more sedatives in it than your regular operating room.”

Dent groaned, feeling his whole body going numb. “Why-?”

Joker cocked his head to the side, “Why? I now do what other people only dream. I make art until someone dies. See? I am the world's first fully functioning homicidal artist, that's why.”

“Bastard.”

He heard him signing something, “I shot the DA, but I didn't shoot the ADA, oh no! Oh!” He wanted to strangle the clown, to kick him in the ‘nads, to break every bone in his body. He couldn't. He was helpless. And the Joker was still singing. “Run away... Run away... Kill again another day!”

He was half-asleep already, but he had one thought that kept him going. The Bat is going to kick your ass, I'll make sure of that.

Joker looked back at the sound of the sirens from the ambulances. “Gotham City. Always brings a smile to my face.”

 

“We need to speak with your sister, Miss Morgendorffer.” The Latina police woman told the short bespectacled girl.

“It's ma'am to you, Officer Montoya,” Daria Morgendorffer told her, leaning on the door in a highly drunken manner. “Hey, hey, hey,” she said, extending her arm like she wasn't sure how far away the older woman was. “Aren't you that chick that was at Hub a couple of years ago? Didn't you arrest me for underage drinking or something?”

Montoya narrowed her eyes. “I don't know, did I?”

Daria narrowed her eyes and leaned back and forth. “I'm the one asking you!”

“You smell like booze.” Montoya folded her arms. “It looks like I should arrest you over that again. What are you, sixteen?”

Daria giggled. “Seventeen, a few more years and you may take me for a drink or two.”

Officer Driver, a young-looking Irish-descendant, held his partner's shoulder. “We don't want to anger her. I already called the Captain.”

Montoya glared daggers at Driver. “He shouldn't need to come here, Marcus. I should just go in there and do my job!”

Daria yawned, and then, for a fraction of a second it was like the aura of booze around her dissipated. “I will allow only a good cop to talk with Quinn, already told you.” She blinked a few too many times and didn't look like she knew where she was for a moment. “Oh, right. You step one foot in this room and I'm sending my lawyers at you. You wouldn't like them, that I can tell you.”

“No need for that.” A new voice said, and Driver let out a sigh of relief at the sight of Captain Gordon. He was sure that if their boss had arrived a minute too late, Montoya would have made a mess of things. She had anger issues, big ones.

Daria widened her eyes at Gordon and then jumped up and down. “Oh, Jim! Good to see you!”

Gordon nodded at Daria. “Miss Morgendorffer. I heard you own this place.”

“Morning Light Industries does, but who cares? What can you tell me? Any adventure stories?” She made a face. “I need a story, haven't slept in a while. But please, call me Daria.”

“Maybe you should stop the 24/7 partying,” Montoya said under her breath.

Gordon shook his head, he had expected a lot more from the girl whose parent's murder had basically launched his career. Or maybe it had been the look on the girl's face that had done it. Before that he wasn't much different than any other cop. “Maybe later, Daria. Now I need to ask a few questions of your sister.”

“Oh, right. I had to come here way too early because of her!” Daria gained herself another glare from Montoya.

“Let it go, she's pulling your leg,” Driver whispered to his partner.

When Gordon entered Quinn's room and Daria closed the door behind them, Montoya replied, “Maybe that's worse.”

Driver chuckled. “Maybe you just got the hots for her.”

 

Quinn stared sleepily at James Gordon and her sister. “Hey, why so serious?” She muttered with a wide smile on her face.

Gordon closed his eyes for a moment. “I have a few questions for you.”

“Questions? Usually I'm the one making questions. For the paper, you know.” Her smile didn't fade from her face.

Gordon nodded. “I know. But this is about Ace Chemicals. Do you remember anything?”

Quinn looked up and started counting cracks on the ceiling. “I don't- I-” she shook her head. “I was there following a lead, I think?”

“A lead on what?”

Quinn looked at Daria for support, but the older girl seemed to be still doing her ditz act. “Banned Chemicals.” She leaned forward to sit on her bed, but found herself too weak to do so. “Scarecrow's fear gas came from here, and so did-” She widened her eyes, and then held her head as in deep pain.

Gordon took notes of all this, and was smart enough not to ask about what Quinn had failed to remember. Instead he went right to the point. “And your boyfriend?”

“The limo-driver?”

Gordon looked back at Daria. “What?”

Quinn giggled. “That was a misunderstanding, Chuck is not a-” she lost her voice. “Where is he?”

Gordon looked down. “I am afraid we don't know, I was hoping you could help us on that.” He was about to ask another question when his cell-phone rang. “Excuse me for a moment.”

He raised the phone to his ear. “Gordon here.”

“Jim, I'm on my way to Cedar's.” It was Harvey, he sounded agitated.

Gordon looked at the Morgendorffer sisters for a moment, “There's no need for that, Harvey.” He noticed how Daria almost jumped at the name.

“As a patient, Jim. Joker hijacked my car. We chatted for a bit. The maniac killed a dozen people while at it. And it was him Jim, Ruttheimer's son.”

“Did you capture him?”

“Sadly, no. He was always one step ahead. He's smart, too smart. And he's insane too. You can't waste resources on Batgirl, we need to put a bullet in this punk's head ASAP.” From the other end of the line, it sounded like someone was trying to take Dent's phone away from him. “Gordon, we could use her help. We should use her help.”

Gordon was staring at Daria the whole time. “Maybe we should. I will go down and wait for you.”

“You do tha- hey! that's my pho- The line died then.

Gordon looked down at the phone in his hand and then at the sisters. He had been right all along. It was the dawning of a new, grimmer, era. He wasn't sure the police could handle the evil that lurked in Gotham. “I'm sorry, a friend was wounded. I will come back later.”

“I'm sure you will, I hope he gets better. He's a good man,” Daria said, sounding supportive.

“He is.” He turned to leave and then smiled at Daria. “And all my men are, too. I handpicked them.”

“I know, I just wanted to see you again.” Daria seemed to remember something at that point. “Right, I think this belongs to you, something about an investigation Quinn did about that Limo driver’s father.” She fished for something in her pocket, and extended Gordon a USB flash drive. “Hope it helps, Jim.”

Gordon looked down at the drive for a moment before shaking his head and leaving the room. The girl had layers, he could tell. She probably surpassed every single expectation he had for her.

 

            Author: LSauchelli

            Editor: smk

 

            Disclaimers: Stereo Hifi font is ©1997 by Cathy Davies. This story based on characters and situations created by Glenn Eichler and Susie Lewis. The Daria TV show is a trademark of MTV Networks, a division of Viacom International Inc. and is referenced here without permission, and without profit.

           Gotham City, James Gordan, Harvey Dent, and other DC references © DC Comics and are used without permission, and without profit.