|Series:||The Dark Knight|
|First Published:||Jun 27, 2012|
|Previous Issue:||The Dark Knight #9|
|Next Issue:||The Dark Knight #11|
Bruce Wayne has become romantically involved with a Ukrainian concert pianist named Natalya. She has a performance coming up at Symphony Hall, and she's quite nervous. Bruce tries to be encouraging, but he's simply stunned at her talent for the arts. He admires it, as most of his talents are in other fields. They are interrupted by Alfred Pennyworth - an intrusion that has become a routine annoyance for Natalya - and upon hearing that the police have found another child, Bruce admits that he has to go.
Batman and Commissioner Gordon have been working together for some time on a series of kidnappings. The children are taken away, and then they are returned - but they are changed. The children have been deeply traumatized. There is no indication of physical abuse, so whatever their kidnapper is doing to them, it is emotional.
A girl has just been dropped in Devil's square, and Gordon devotes a unit to catching the getaway vehicle, and another to picking up the girl. Gordon arrives just in time to see the girl get picked up by his people, while the driver who dumped her off is driving dangerously, as though under the influence. Gordon gives chase, but the target vehicle begins speeding toward the maternity ward at Gotham General. At the last second, Batman leaps down, kicking the driver out through the passenger window. He slips in through the broken driver's window and rights the car's orientation just in time to prevent it from colliding with the innocents inside the hospital. The kidnapper readily admits that he was paid by a strange "hollow man" to drop the kid off.
Later, Batman and Gordon rendezvous on the roof of Gotham City Police Headquarters, and Gordon is becoming tired of seeing children ruined by this kidnapper. He despairs that as much as they may try to stop the spread of evil on Gotham City's streets, there's always more bubbling below the surface. Batman tries to explain that this kidnapper will make a mistake eventually, but Gordon is too upset to wait for that mistake to come. When he looked at the driver of that car, he saw the same look that his son James, Jr. had; eroded. Something about Gotham City always seems to be showing him his worst fears. Batman comments that he thought Jim seemed different lately, but he turns to find that, for once, Jim Gordon has left without him noticing.
Batman decides to check in with Clair, the girl that was recovered. He cautiously asks permission to speak with her; to come closer. She doesn't respond. He asks her about the man who kidnapped her, explaining that she can help him catch the man who did bad things to her. She simply begins crying. Resigned, Batman sits down beside her and waits. Understanding that he is just trying to help, Clair takes his hand.
Later, in the Batcave, Bruce is preoccupied with his work. His son Damian approaches and admits that he was listening when he was told that he needs to try to let go of some of his anger. He promises to make an effort to be better. Bruce merely feigns listening, and when Damian realizes this, he angrily storms off.
Jim Gordon has grown used to his routines. He gives money to the homeless man who lives near his house as often as he can, and he invites him in occasionally for dinner. There is an order to his life that he welcomes, because the chaos of his work life would be too troubling without it. As he prepares for his nightly shower, the faucet suddenly begins spewing thick gas, and Jim's world is suddenly shifted into one filled with terror. He rushes outside to find that his familiar streets have become twisted, Willie the homeless man has become a deformed version of his usual self. Rushing back inside, Jim is greeted by a vision of his daughter Barbara, as she was on the night when she was shot through the spine, and lost the use of her legs. She begs to know why he failed to protect her from the Joker. His son James appears, asking why Jim wasn't there to prevent him from losing his way; from becoming a killer.
Across Gotham, Natalya practices her piano, but is overwhelmed by emotion when she makes a mistake. Bruce arrives at the door and she asks him for some moral support, if he can muster it. He's come to take her to yet another black-tie event, and she isn't dressed. Exasperatedly, Natalya complains that he is always there for the big events, but he is never there for the little moments - the every day things. Especially not in her life. She states that she doesn't want to be the kind of girlfriend who is only there for the events; who is left lonely when it's just the every day stuff. As she closes the door on him, she complains that the life he is offering her right now is, frankly, boring.
Meanwhile, Scarecrow makes his way into Jim's house, and prepares to give him more to worry about.
- Natalya Trusevich (First Appearance)
- Alfred Pennyworth
- James Gordon
- Damian Wayne
- Barbara Gordon (Hallucination Only)
- James Gordon, Jr. (Hallucination Only)