Behold, the very first chapter of the very first mini series of DC Mayhem. This is a direct spin off of the brand new Riddle Me This series, starring the Riddler and also featuring the star of this mini, Renee Montoya. Enjoy!
“You can't be serious, Commissioner. This is never going to work!” Renee Montoya stood in front of the commissioner's desk with her palms flat against the top, leaning forward. Under normal circumstances she might have stood back a ways or even sat down in the chair in front of the desk, but her nerves were firing too hard, too fast. It was common knowledge around the station that she had a bit of a temper—had even let it get the best of her on occasion—and it was everything she could do right now to keep from going off completely. “You honestly think the Riddler is going to reform?”
“I can understand your... skepticism,” James Gordon said, folding his hands in front of him. “But I'm willing to give him a chance. Given the state of Gotham right now—the best it's been in years—I've a mind to have a little hope.”
Renee uttered a sharp breath and bowed her head, fingers digging into the wood. She had nothing but the utmost respect for the commissioner—he was the kind of cop that she strove to be every day—but this was a decision that she just could not get behind. Giving Edward Nigma, one of Batman and Gotham's most notorious criminals, a chance to start over (and in their own station, for that matter!) was a level of absurdity she didn't know was possible to reach.
“I just... can't help but think you're making a mistake, sir,” she said, more than a little reluctant to admit it. “I heard you're getting him a license as a private detective. We just giving those out like candy, now?”
“It's probationary, if that makes you feel any better.”
Gordon sighed, slackening his shoulders. “Look, Montoya... I know this seems a little out there, but you know how understaffed we've been lately. The cutbacks, the layoffs... we're hurting for man power here, and he's done this detective thing before. Was damn good at it, too, as I recall.”
“And as I recall, he regressed back into his old ways,” she countered. “Which he's bound to do again.”
“There's a chance of that, yeah,” he admitted. “Which is why I need someone to... keep an eye on him. Make sure he stays straight.”
Renee's left eye twitched instinctively at the statement. She stiffened her posture slightly, breathing in deeply and doing her best not to go into a full on outburst. “You- you want me to babysit him?”
“Not exactly how I'd put it... but in a way, yes.” Gordon cleared his throat, averting his gaze for a brief moment. “For the time being, he's your new assignment.”
“No way,” she said, shaking her head ardently. “No, no, no. I am not going to be catering to that guy's every whim. I already set him up in his apartment—that we're helping pay for, I hear—and did his errands for him because he's too tweaked out from withdrawal to do them himself. I don't want anything else to do with him.”
Gordon paused, gently tapping his fingers against the desk. “He was just... tired. Didn't look like he had a good night's sleep in ages.”
“Tired, right.” Montoya groaned, running her fingers through her hair. She had been around enough drug addicts to recognize the symptoms. You couldn't mistake 'tired' with 'addiction'. “With all due respect, sir, I don't care what you say; I'm not buying his bull for one minute. I don't know what he said to you to... to sway you, or whatever, but he's not fooling me.”
“And that's exactly why I want you on him,” he insisted, straightening himself in his seat. “I need someone I can trust looking after him. If there's anyone he can't BS, it's you. If he's going to win you over, then he really does have to change his ways. I want you to make sure that he does—or otherwise stop him before he regresses, again.”
Renee gave a long, heavy pause. She bowed her head again, pushing herself back a bit but keeping her hands pressed against the desk. As much as she hated this whole situation, as much as she wanted to storm out of that office and slam the door behind her, as much as she was going to regret this... she took in a deep breath and stood straight, looking the commissioner square in the eyes. “Fine... I'll do what I can. But don't expect any miracles.”
A subtle chuckle found its way past Gordon's lips. “Montoya, when you've been doing this job as long as I have, you learn that miracles come in short supply.”
Renee huffed out a frustrated breath as she closed the door to the commissioner's office behind her, and muttered something in Spanish that translated roughly to “heaven help me.” Of all the assignments that she could have been given, babysitting Edward Nigma was the last one she ever would have wanted to take. So of course it would be her primary job for the foreseeable future.
“Story of my life,” she said to herself, as she crossed the main reception floor.
Several of her fellow officers—including Angie Peterson, Jackson Davies, Crispus Allen, and Josephine McDonald—walked back and forth between various desks, searching for lost paperwork or mingling in conversation during the waning hours of their shifts. A phone rang here and there in the background, and she was pretty sure she caught sight of their most recent arrestee being led towards the back in handcuffs. Compared to what she was used to the department looking like, though, things were quiet. Calm. Relaxed. All words she never would have associated with a Gotham City police department, and yet had become the norm over the past several months.
Nearing the front of the reception area, the department secretary suddenly came running over, waving a file in her hand. “Oh, Renee! I got the info on that guy you and Bullock were looking into. Record's mostly clean, but he was picked up for soliciting a prostitute last month.”
Renee turned towards the slender, pink-haired girl and uttered a breath of relief. If there was anyone that she wanted to talk to after her conversation with Gordon, it was Stacy. Not being a cop herself, Stacy had a certain... peppy attitude that was sorely lacking around a police station, and quite frankly Renee found it refreshing.
“Thanks, Stace,” Renee said, with a small sigh. “But go ahead and give the file to Harvey, let him know he'll be on the case himself.”
Stacy blinked in surprise, pulling the folder back. “Wait, what's up? You're not suspended or anything are you? If this is about the guy you punched out in the station last week, I was here, I can vouch that he started it!”
“Ha, no,” Renee said, shaking her head with a smile. “Just been put on a different assignment.”
“Oh,” the girl replied, with a relieved chuckle. “Well, that's... that's okay, then. Um, alright, so I'll go... give this to Officer Bullock.” She gave Renee a smile of her own and shifted her weight. Their eyes... lingered a little longer on each other than they probably should have, and as if both realizing it at the same moment, they tore their gazes away.
“Uh, yeah,” Renee replied, clearing her throat. “You do that. I'm, uh... I'm cutting out early today, so I'll see you tomorrow.”
Stacy nodded slowly, maintaining as professional a demeanor as possible. “Right, you got that... that thing. With your parents, right?”
When Renee bowed her head and uttered a long sigh, Stacy shifted her weight again. This time, though, it was out of concern rather than embarrassment. “You know... you could always just skip.”
“No... I can't. I don't see them enough as it is, I owe it to them. Even if I'd rather crawl into a gutter and drown.”
“Right... well, have fun, anyway.”
Renee nodded, giving a parting wave as she headed for the door. “No promises.”
As much as she didn't like family dinners—if only for how uncomfortable they tended to be for her—one thing Renee could attest to was that her mother's cooking was amazing. She always ate more than she should when they had these dinners, even before dessert arrived. As her mother cleared the dishes off the dining room table, Renee sank back into her seat and uttered a heavy groan, eyes closing slightly.
“<*So, how was it>?” Louisa Montoya asked, giving her daughter a big smile.
(*Translated from Spanish)
“<Amazing, as usual>,” she replied, holding a hand to her stomach. She was already stuffed, yet she knew she'd dig right into the pie when it found itself in front of her.
Hernando Montoya leaned forward his seat and laughed. “<Your mother can still cook, and that's a good thing since that's what I married her for>.”
Louisa gave him a sidelong look and playfully slapped his shoulder on her way by to the kitchen. “<Hush now, Hernando, you know you married me for my charm>.”
“<Maybe, but I certainly stayed for the cooking, at least>.”
Renee glanced back and forth between her parents with a subtle smile. So far, this dinner actually hadn't been that bad. The conversations had been relatively tame, and had steered far clear of what she had been expecting. If she could just get through the next twenty minutes or so...
“<Say, where's Benny>?” Renee asked, as she shifted straighter in her seat. “<Thought he was supposed to be here tonight>.”
“<Ah, your brother is working late>,” Louisa said. She returned to the kitchen a moment later and set a small plate of pumpkin pie in front of her daughter.
“<Yeah, and then he said he was going to see that new girlfriend of his>,” Hernando added. “<What was her name... Rebecca, I think>.”
Louisa nodded. “<Rebecca, that's right>.” Then, she turned to look at Renee.
Before the words even left her mother's mouth, Renee sensed it coming. She stopped her fork halfway through her slice of pie and closed her eyes in preparation, already feeling her heart sink like a stone. So close. She had been so close without it coming up.
“<And what about you, huh>?” Louisa asked. “<Lord knows it's been ages since you had a boyfriend. Not since you were in high school... was it Tommy>?”
“<Yes, mother... it was Tommy>,” she muttered. She stared down at her pie, as if trying to burn a hole through it with her gaze. Tommy, her high school friend who had offered to 'date' her as a cover. It had been a decade since then, the last time her parents had seen her with a 'boyfriend'.
Hernando chuckled again, digging into his own piece of pie. “<Not getting any younger, Renee. Go any longer like this, and you'll never give us any grandchildren>.”
He meant it as a joke, sure. He meant it to be funny. To Renee, however, it just hurt. “<I know, it's just... my job. I'm busy, don't really have any time for dating, or... boys>.”
As her parents continued to go off about her lack of a social life, Renee's cell phone began to vibrate in her pocket. She glanced down a moment, then dug her fingers into her pants and pulled it out. With a couple of quick button presses, she pulled up the text message and felt her heart almost burst with relief. In an instant, she shoved her phone back in her pocket and got up from the table.
“<Sorry, Mom, Pop>,” she said, as she slipped into her coat. “<Something just came up. A, uh... work emergency. I have to take care of this>.”
Though they protested her leaving, there was little they could do to get her to stay. She was a cop, after all. Work emergencies in her case usually meant someone was dead. Within minutes, she slipped away.
A cold mist puffed out past Renee's lips as she walked down the Gotham City sidewalk. Still three weeks until Christmas and already it was hitting temperatures in the low teens. A cold shiver rippled up her spine, causing her to tug her coat tighter around her body. Little good it did, as any residual warmth had long since vanished. From her fingers to her toes, she was dead numb.
It would be worth it, though—even if the walk did take more than a half hour and was in the complete opposite direction as her apartment. Turning the corner down another street, she pulled out her phone again to double check the address. When she was sure that she had it right, she took an additional moment to smile at the message, then finally placed the phone back in her pocket.
Looking straight ahead across the street, she saw the bar: The One True Bean. And waiting right out in front of the window stood a familiar pink haired girl, who was a tad bit more dressed up than her usual T-shirt and jeans. Her pants were dressier and all black, and the blood red shirt that she wore was cut low at the chest (for her, anyway. It was still modest by most standards), and came down just above her belly button. Coupled with her bright pink hair and glasses, she really was an amusing sight. Amusing, but very welcomed.
“Hey!” Stacy called, waving as Renee crossed the street. “Glad you could make it. I was so not looking forward to drinking by myself tonight.”
“Anything to get away that dinner,” she said, with a shake of her head and a chuckle.
Now alone with no one around who knew them, they were free to go beyond the awkward stares that they often gave each other in the police station. Moving in close, Renee wrapped her arms around the younger girl's waist and leaned in. Their lips came together gently, tenderly, and didn't part for a good long while. After the day she'd had, Renee wanted to melt away forever in that embrace.
It was Stacy who finally broke the kiss, pulling away and pushing her glasses up farther on the bridge of her nose. She tried to hide the brimming smile that came to her face, but failed miserably in doing so, instead only enhancing it as a bright blush flushed through her cheeks. “Good to see you, too.”
“Come on,” Renee said, holding her arm around the girl's shoulders. “Let's go get something to drink.”
Stacy first came to the police station as the new receptionist two years ago, fresh out of college. At first, it had just been an internship, meant to garner her a bit of experience in the criminal justice field by being around an active police environment, and doing a little busy work in the process. But she grew to like it there, and the people, and so even when her internship ended, she stayed on as the full time secretary. She didn't just answer the phones anymore, either, but actually assisted the officers around the station on cases, if only with the paperwork and research.
She and Renee had been friends since day one. According to Renee, she had a 'peppy' personality that was welcomed around the normally stiff police department. Stacy, too, had taken an instant liking to the older woman, mostly because Renee was everything that she herself was not. Strong, outgoing, bold, and sexy... It had only been four months ago that the two discovered their similar 'interests', prompting Renee to make the first move in asking her out—with a rather uncharacteristic nervousness about her, too. Since then, they had been going steady as steady could be, even if they had to keep it a secret.
As the two stumbled back out of the bar, slight intoxication hindering optimum functionality, Stacy grinned and interlocked her arm with one of Renee's. “You know, I don't... don't usually drink that much.”
Renee lifted an eyebrow, turning to give the girl an accusatory look. “You only had three beers.”
“As I said,” she replied with a stifled laugh. “I'm kind of a l... a lightweight.”
Walking arm in arm down the sidewalk, the two women remained quiet a few moments longer, simply enjoying one another's company. Eventually, Renee tilted her head against Stacy's shoulder and yawned. “I should probably call a cab to take me back to my apartment.”
“You could... or we could just walk back to mine,” Stacy said, giving the other woman a little nudge with her elbow. “It's only a few blocks.”
A short pause followed, as she considered the suggestion. It really didn't take all that long to come to a decision. “You know, that sounds like a much better idea... you're smart.”
Stacy held down another giggle. Even with just three beers, she was already giddy. “Well, I do have an IQ of one-sixty...”
“So I've been told.” Turning her head farther, Renee pushed their lips back together in another deep kiss. This one was a little sloppier than the first, with their tongues coming together for added intensity. Stacy didn't seem to mind one bit, though, kissing back with equal fervor.
A split second later, however, their moment of passion became a moment of horror.
A bolt of panic shot through her body at the sound of the overly familiar voice. She instantly pulled away from Stacy and turned to look behind her, only to confirm the fear that churned her gut with nausea. Standing behind her was a young man, about Stacy's age and with very similar features to Renee. Holding onto his arm was a young woman, his date.
Renee's throat went numb at first, and for several seconds she couldn't respond. Only after she swallowed a tight knot in her throat could she finally utter the young man's name. “Benny...?”