Pairing: Jim/Bruce, possibly others
Rating: PG-13 for now.
Word count: 1098.
A/N: A long awaited (well, by me) fic in the Groundverse. Order of the fics is: Solid Ground, Common Ground and Breaking New Ground.
Babs knew it was going to be one of those days when her cellphone perked up at seven am. The second sign of the impending apocalypse was Jimmy's caller id flashing across it, because her brother had Views on getting up before nine, and him not ever doing so. In fact, so did she, especially on the first day she had free of any lectures or exams.
"What?" she barked into the receiver, blindly feeling for her glasses on the side table.
"Morning to you too, sunshine," Jimmy said with just the right dose of sarcasm to annoy her. She didn't take well to sarcasm before her first cup of coffee. "Whatever you do, don't leave the apartment."
"What?" she repeated, pushing the glasses up her nose and blinking, the world coming into focus.
"Bruce is sending a car for you, don't leave the apartment," he sighed tiredly, and she held back a few uncharitable words.
"Jimmy, my level of caffeine is lethally low, better start making some sense sometime soon, I beg of you," she said, wondering if anyone ever conducted a study on what made younger brothers so particularly annoying. "Is something wrong?"
"Depends on your definition of wrong, but, yeah," he paused. "It's a long story."
"Talk fast," she advised, moving to stand up and make a beeline for the coffee maker. There were priorities.
"Okay. But I'm not to be held responsible for any resulting trauma," Jimmy warned her before sighing again. It was beginning to be rather worrying. And annoying, not much with the beginning. "So, remember last week, when Bruce took us to that concert you were so excited about? The one I really, really hated, by the way, and next time we're doing baseball, not opera?"
"Someone took pictures. And they made it to the desk of someone doing the gossip page at Gotham Times, and yesterday evening they called Bruce to get a quote about him and you."
"Him and me what? Wait, what? How? Oh my God," she caught on, and sat down, holding on to the phone as it threatened to slip out of her hand. "Oh my God."
"Yes. And Bruce flipped out, as anyone would because, yes, oh your God, and gave them a rather good quote," Jimmy sounded both mortified and amused now, which was better than Babs felt, as she stopped on mortified and couldn't really move on.
"Oh my God. What quote?"
"Well, the story they went with was not his and yours impending marriage, so you can breathe freely, but Dad isn't so happy about being outed in the morning papers."
She gulped the coffee down from the jug, not bothering about finding a mug. This was probably still a dream, of a surreal nightmarish kind. "Do I even want to ask?"
"He threatened to kill some of the journalists who are right now camping outside the house, you can imagine how fun that is. And he's not talking to Bruce at the moment, which makes me fear for when they finally make up. I'm considering moving out, because the walls are way too thin for this."
She nodded, grimacing. The walls were too thin. "And why can't I leave the apartment?"
Jimmy paused for a moment. "Don't tell me you get lucky and you don't have a news van parked outside."
She stood up and tiptoed to the window, leaning against the wall and glancing aside, in a sneaky, ninja-like way that Jimmy could make fun of, but she had it well down since she started going out on dates. "Damn," she muttered. "Not that lucky."
"Just wait for the car," Jimmy sighed. "Boy, this is going to be a great day," he whined, and she didn't even bother to tell him to shut it. Mostly, because for once she agreed.
"Yeah. Talk to you later," she muttered, disconnecting, as her flatmate had stumbled out of her room, drawn by the scent of the coffee. She did a double take as she passed the window.
"What's with the siege?" she asked confusedly and Babs sighed.
"The press found out about my Dad's relationship with Bruce Wayne," she said, wincing slightly. She was so used to not talking about it that it felt very wrong to say that now.
Sheila, however, just blinked and nodded, whisking the coffee jug from Babs' hands and pouring herself a cup, dropping enough sugar in it to make Babs' teeth hurt in sympathy. "Oh," was all she said, losing all interest, but then again, Sheila was never into anything that happened after the Renaissance, with a notable exception of coffee makers and late night tv shows.
It was just a little bit anticlimactic, but Sheila always had an ability to dampen any drama tendencies, so they just sat there, drinking coffee, until she had to make an effort to get dressed before the car arrived.
The car was a discreet, Alfred-driven Bentley, which had the awesome side effect of all the journalists parting like the Red Sea. Babs was pretty sure that the old story of Alfred hitting a particularly annoying paparazzo over the head with an umbrella was just something Bruce made up, but the journalists apparently didn't share her conviction.
"So, how are things, Alfred?" she asked, sliding into the passenger seat in the front, much to Alfred's barely hidden annoyance; he had strong views on people refusing to just sit in the back seat and mind their own business. She and Jimmy refused to do that because it was much more fun to sit in the front and bother Alfred with questions, and Dad refused to do that because of his stubborn streak and some kind of moral conviction, she never could figure it out. The only person glad to take the back seat was Bruce, but that never stopped him from bothering Alfred; Bruce could bother people while he was in a different timezone. It was a gift.
"Business as usual, Miss Gordon," Alfred said smoothly, with barely contained amusement with which he approached most of the Bruce-caused disasters, or at least the ones that didn't involve someone needing stitches. "I think it's best if you see for yourself."
She nodded, fastening the seat belt and watching Alfred almost run over one of the photographers while he pulled out of the driveway. She figured she would see for herself, and soon.