When he suggested that the two of them give the detective some space, Tabitha didn’t know that it would mean waiting on him for weeks. Three to be exact; for three weeks, he wouldn’t take anyone’s calls, not even his own girlfriend’s. When she made the decision to try to visit him at the station, it was there where she found out that Ethan hadn’t been there since his incident with Joker; he had been put on suspension for insubordination. Something was really wrong, she sensed. As frustrated as the police chief had made him, Ethan had never mouthed out at him.
When Tabitha told him what she found out, Bruce could only feign a look of surprise. He had already known what had happened between Ethan and Chief Rojas. Seeing that the hostage situation was caught on tape, Bruce had watched it again to see if he had missed something. Unfortunately, he had. When he made the decision to try to de-fuse the situation himself, he accidentally let a bit of Joker’s putty gun gas leak out; it was a new invention of his that had never been used on humans. He watched in slight disbelief as Ethan coughed when the gas went into his nostrils; he was sure that the detective got a lot of the toxins in his lungs. Seeing that the effects of the gas were unknown, Bruce wasn’t sure if Ethan was fine or if the gas did affect him badly. When Ethan didn’t want anyone helping him, he had a feeling that the gas, along with Joker’s taunting, had a neurological effect on him.
Bruce was half right. He didn’t know how much of it was the gas and how much of it was Joker’s words but Ethan’s mental state did change… as well as his physical being. He wouldn’t find that out until he investigated who was harassing and threatening Chief Rojas. At first, himself and Yin thought that it was Joker; the antics were almost identical. It wasn’t until she caved in and asked for Batman’s assistance that they found out that it was Ethan all along; he had transformed into a clay-like creature, capable of shape shifting into anyone… and anything he chose. After a bit of research, Bruce came up with a cryogenic-type solution that froze the man in place; he was captured and was awaiting trial.
He had no idea how to tell Tabitha about everything that had gone down in the mere three weeks since the last time they had spoken to Ethan; he figured that the best way would be the direct way. She was already heartbroken, had already figured that she had lost the man that she loved. It would be painful but he knew that it was something that she had to hear.
He found her in the cafeteria area, eating. She looked up at him and stopped chewing on her French fries; the look on his face said it all. She slowly finished her food and looked down at her plate.
“What happened to him?” she simply asked. He sighed and sat down beside her.
“He’s… transformed…” he looked dead at her. She gave him a weird look but then slightly sighed.
“… That’s why he wouldn’t open the door…” she realized and Bruce nodded; the transformation had been only a couple of hours after he had inhaled the gas, “Into what?” she was actually afraid of the answer. For him not to let his closest friends see him or even help him, she figured that it was something hideous.
“Clay. When I went to save him… I didn’t know that Joker’s putty gun had leaked out some gas. He got a pretty good whiff of it. It did some mental damage as well; it’s why he went after Rojas.”
“… I thought he just mouthed off at him?”
“He did, at first. But, after he transformed… he tried to kill him…”
“I know. We got him… and he’s awaiting trial…”
“He got arrested?” she looked at him and Bruce nodded. As much as she knew that it was wrong, part of her felt that Rojas deserved to have gotten threatened; he had put Ethan and Yin through so much pressure to try to rid the city of Batman and it wasn’t fair to push them the way that he did. She knew what it felt like to have vengeance just sitting there, heating up in the body until it finally toppled over; her heart went out to him, “Can he… have visitors?”
“Yes.” he was glad that she asked; he had made plans on visiting his friend. He knew how much the former detective had gone through and came up with another plan, “I want to tell him that I’m Batman. Maybe… just maybe it would calm down his mentality.”
“You sure?” she eyed him. He had a point; if Ethan found out that his best friend was the vigilante that he had been ordered to hunt down, it could very well put his mind at ease: the man had no problem with the caped crusader helping GCPD out. Then again, Tabitha realized, finding out that Bruce was the reason behind why Rojas had pushed them so much… could very well send his mental state over the edge. Maybe if another piece of the puzzle was revealed, he would take the news as kindly as possible.
“Then… I guess we’re all cleaning out our closets…”