Author: Betty
contact: brown_betty on lj
written for: Petra
Character requested: Harvey Dent, Two-Face

Illustration provided by LC.

The year starts badly. New Year's Eve he spends on the phone, trying to find his key witness, who has evaporated.

"For God's sake, Harvey," says Gilda, "You've lost this one, give it up!" but Harvey keeps dialing new numbers until Gilda reaches past him and hangs up the phone.

"Harvey." The gentle way she says it catches his attention like her irritation hadn't before.

"Harvey, c'mon. We were going to drink champaign at midnight." She pulls the receiver away from him gently.

"I will, I promise, I just need to find someone who knows-- "

"Harvey, it's 1:30. Come to bed. It won't be so bad in the morning." Looking at her, he notices she's in the old shirt of his that she wears to bed. He isn't sure when she changed.

"I'm sorry, I just-- One more call."

Gilda puts her forehead to his shoulder, and goes to bed alone.

Sometime that week, as everything falls apart, as he's forced to withdraw charges, as Loeb congratulates him heartily on the wisdom of his choice, Harvey realizes Gilda has stopped talking to him. They still speak, but nothing is said.

He realizes, only a little later, that he isn't sure when it actually happened. Did she stop talking to him while he was bound up in bringing down Commissioner Loeb, and he's only now noticed, or did this start on New Year's Eve?

Is she as sick of being married to a D.A. who can only prosecute crimes with the consent of the criminals as he is sick of being one?

In a conference with Armstrong from Internal Affairs, it occurs to him that maybe it's not his failures as a lawyer, but his failure as a husband. He's so immersed in the corruption of Gotham he hasn't had time for his wife. He buys her flowers that evening on the way home, and feels ashamed at the paltriness of the gesture. Gilda is pleased, and puts the flowers in a vase. She thanks him for the flowers, which is how he knows they were useless.

He never wonders if it's because of his failure as a man. He never thinks about their childless marriage.

That same year, at the same time, Bruce Wayne returned to Gotham. Harvey noticed, and then forgot. He's too busy.

Harvey is trying and failing to put together a case against Carmine Falcone. The mayor sends a messenger to tell him to stop harassing a pillar of the community. Harvey sets Andrea, his assistant to combing the mayors election campaign contributions.

"It's the unions," she tells him, a week later. "I can't prove it, but he received a small contribution from nearly every single union member in this city."

Harvey can't make his wife confide in him. He can't get justice for the uneasy dead, for the shop keepers whose wares are taken as samples by the police, for the girls who have to pay protection. He can't prosecute, because his evidence is worthless. A two week surveillance job on Jimmy Gotti manages to miss the part where Jimmy decides to take the matter of a pregnant mistress into his own hands.

He has violent fantasies of taking a scrap of lumber with nails in it to Detective Flass, who happened to have taken a leak while on surveillance, just as Marriette O'Connor was bludgeoned to death.

Jimmy claims she was healthy last time he saw her. "I hope you catch the terrible degenerate who did these things to Marry, officers."

Harvey hates the law that compels him. It seems useless, but he doesn't see any other way. The darker part of himself rages against the restrictions of law which have nothing to do with justice.

"No, explain to me again." says Harvey, trying not to snap at the pathetic creature.

"I'm sorry, I... I thought-- You know, it was dark, I could have... I was mistaken. It wasn't Mr. Flass."

"He threatened you, didn't he."

Mr. Liang's face is blank. "Who?"

Two hours later he gets a call from Evidence, saying the bullet he asked for can't be found.

He's staying late at the office. He doesn't want to go home, because Gilda will be waiting for him. She'd have supper in the fridge: a reproach. He'd eat it cold: a penance. Better to stay here until the cleaner comes.

He's looking at old records, like a dog returning to its vomit. He's useless here, besieged, beset, while the city rots.

An outsider could conduct investigations the police can't. An outsider could ask questions you can't.

"Yes," says Harvey. He doesn't know if the voice came from his subconscious, or from the window. He doesn't turn around.

Do you want justice?

"Yes," says Harvey, and for a moment, believes he's talking to someone. Then he has to look, because he has to know. No one is there.

Harvey doesn't dream that night, despite sleeping in the office chair. He goes home to get a change of clothes, and wonders what it means that he's hearing voices.

He's visited Arkham before, in the course of his work. Some say Arkham is a synecdoche for Gotham, all Gotham's madness in one place. He wonders if he'll start acting on the voices, if he'll become the voice, if...

Harvey's never understood why some people think Gotham's architecture is oppressive, but today he's careful, certain every gargoyle is going to hiss at him. If it tells him to take out Commissioner Loeb with a hand gun, he's not sure what he'll do.

"Did you hear?" asks Andrea "The police are going nuts about some guy dressed in black who beat Flass up singlehanded last night."

"Last night?" asks Harvey, surprised. He doesn't feel sore...

He catches himself. Someone in black could be anyone in black. It's not an uncommon fashion choice for criminals.

Harvey grabs a cup of coffee and locks himself in his office. He checks; his hand isn't shaking. He's making too much of a dream he had last night, when he fell asleep at his desk.

Dent, says the voice.

Carefully, Harvey puts down his mug. Carefully, he turns around. There's a deep shadow in the back of his office, between two filing cabinets. He's not sure if the shadow has always been there.

"Who am I talking to?" asks Harvey.

The shadow takes the form of a man, steps forward, and Harvey realizes with a rush that it is a man, nothing more than a man in a cape and mask.

"Last night you seemed open to the idea of working with someone... working outside official channels," says the man.

"Someone wearing a Halloween mask?" asks Harvey.

"Better than working alone."

He's not alone, after all. The dark voice of his frustration belongs to a human man. Harvey isn't sure why he feels disappointed.