Night and Day
Amy Rohrbach gets up every morning to a pretty good life. Two great kids, a wonderful husband, and a house that, now that it's finally rebuilt, is actually better than it used to be. She shares a cup of coffee with Jim before he heads out to work and the kids wake up. Then she gets Justin and Emma dressed and fed, and drops them off at school with a kiss. And then she goes and does a job she loves in a police department that is finally, finally clean enough to really make a difference in her town.
Her evening life is less straightforward.
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, after the kids are asleep, she gets back in the car and drives out to the Zee Moores. There's an alley she always parks in, and a bum she gives five bucks to watch the car. Then she gets in a rattle-shook elevator car up to the twenty-fifth floor, unlocks the door to Apartment 24CG, and waits. She used to come early, bring a Thermos full of tea and a snack to keep herself awake, and keep watch from the grimy window. Now she knows that an 11 o'clock meet means he's there by 11:05 or he's in serious trouble, and he prefers to come through the window when he knows he isn't being watched. She's learned a lot about Dick Grayson since she fired him.
He arrives at 10:56, while she's in the bathroom. He's sitting on the couch when she comes back out into the living room, and he blends so perfectly into the ratty, beaten-down room that it takes a second for her to even register that he's there.
"Here's your proof," he says, and throws a fat yellow envelope onto the scuffed coffee table.
As soon as she picks it up, he's halfway out the window again, until she says "Wait."
He folds his arms and gives her a look that's meant to intimidate. "You've got what you need," he says.
"I'm sure it's fine." Amy opens the envelope for form's sake as much as anything. There are receipts, CD-ROMs, audio tapes, all in clear plastic bags that she knows from experience are will be sealed and properly labeled in Dick's neat blocky hand. "I wanted to talk to you about your next case."
His expression gets even grimmer. "I told you. I'm done."
"You say that, Dick, but you're not." When he'd limped angrily out of her office the first time, she thought that maybe he wouldn't be back. But it hadn't been long before she'd found him waiting for her in the BPD parking structure, armed with enough evidence to put Mateo Flores in jail alongside his sister. Since then, it's been mostly her bringing cases to him, and mostly him saying no till he says yes again. Amy isn't sure why he keeps coming back, or why he never wears the vigilante costume. But she isn't about to ask; he's the best undercover cop she's ever worked with, and she needs all the help she can get.
"Don't you presume to tell me what I think," he growls.
She can recall all too clearly the sick shock of recognition when she saw Dick on TV during the Gotham gang wars. Seeing him there with the Batman, following the Batman's orders, she'd finally had to admit to herself that she'd been an undercover job to Dick too. All those hours together in the squad car, and she'd only ever known a cover story.
"You're right," she says. "I don't know you. Not really."
He looks surprised at that, and maybe sad. "What's the case?" he finally asks.
"Hold on a sec. I'll give you the full rundown." In the cramped fluorescent kitchen, putting two mugs of Earl Grey in the microwave, she allows herself a small smile. She hands Dick the second cup, registering the scars around his knuckles when he takes it, and sits down on the couch beside him.
"Thanks," he says. He's lost weight, and he looks worn. The eager rookie she'd liked so much is nowhere in his eyes.
"There's a problem with Freddy Minh's gang. They're making some sort of major play for the waterfront, and we need someone on the spot when it goes down."
He shakes his head. "Minh's people know me."
"They know Nightwing."
He grimaces a little at that; a classic interrogation room tell. He must be tired to be so sloppy. When Dick first left, she'd asked the kid Robin if he knew where Nightwing was: he'd just looked at her from behind those freaky no-eye lenses and said he didn't know who she was talking about.
"They're never going to let a white guy in anyhow," he says.
"Leave that part to me," she says. "We've turned one of Freddy's men, but he's a low-level guy, and he's dumb. He can't give us much, but he can vouch for you. How you get the information after that will be up to you."
Dick thinks for a second, and then nods. "When do I meet him?"
"He'll be waiting for you at the Salty Dog on Hanover Street at midnight. Look for an Asian man in a blue windbreaker, ask him if he's from around here. He'll tell you he's from San Diego, and you'll tell him you've heard it's a nice town. Name is Johnny Nguyen. He'll be nervous, so go easy."
"Got it." Dick takes a long drink of his tea, then puts the cup down.
"If you need help over the weekend…"
"I know the protocol," he tells her. It's when he's the most brusque like this that he reminds her most of her Justin, trying to put a brave face on a skinned knee. It's a ridiculous comparison, and one he'd surely find insulting, but she can't help what she sees.
"Stay safe," is all she says.
He nods in acknowledgement as he puts on his gloves. "You know, Amy," he says, "you've got one thing wrong. Johnny Nguyen isn't Freddy Minh's man."
She frowns. "Are you saying it's a setup?"
He shakes his head. "No. But the Minh organization is a little more complicated than most people know. Or it was." The little smirk he allows himself as he pulls on his knit cap isn't anything she'd call a smile. "I'll have to see if things have changed lately."
And then he's gone, out the window as gracefully as if he was diving into a swimming pool. She goes to the window to look for him in the night, but of course she sees nothing. Nothing but the security beacons on the streets below and the lights of a thousand lives being lived out in the apartments around her. The night is as quiet as it ever gets in the Zee Moores, so she cleans up the safehouse and heads home.
The first thing she does is to check on the kids. They're both sleeping soundly: Justin tucked quietly under his baseball quilt, Emma with her blankets thrown off and her socks half-off her feet, her face mobile in dreaming. Amy tucks her back in and kisses them both on the forehead before taking a shower and going to bed herself. Jim mumbles at her, but doesn't wake up.
Some nights, she can fall asleep as soon as she gets home, but tonight, she lies awake, going over every moment of the conversation in her head. Amy Rohrbach has a pretty damn good life, all things considered, but she can't seem to reach her ex-partner. Not in a way that would help. All she can do, it seems, is give him something to do, somewhere to go. It's not much, but it will have to do for tonight. Tomorrow morning, bright and early, she'll start again.
Reference images taken from NIGHTWING #93.
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