Rating: PG-13 for now.
Pairings: Jim/Bruce, Babs/Steve, Babs/Dick, Jimmy/Devika
A/N: Part of the grounverse. For kubis: Happy Birthday :).
There is something to be said for private planes, especially when one wants to work on something during the flight. And Bruce’s office away from the office (and his other office, and home office, and the batcave) is rumoured to be better than the one on the presidential plane, at least according to Babs.
“How would you even know that?” Jimmy asked when she announced it for the first time and she looked at him for a moment.
“Air Force One schematics?”
“Yeah, and you got them from where?”
She shrugged. “All my online activities are perfectly legal,” she deadpanned, then rolled her eyes. “Pictures of the office area are actually available. It’s the full layout and the security measures that are not.”
Sometimes Jim misses the days when all she did on the computer was her homework. Bruce, of course, points out that it’s what Jim thinks; maybe she’s been secretly hacking into databases since she was six. It’s a slightly unnerving thought that he could be right.
But however similar or dissimilar it can be to the president’s office, the working area on Bruce’s plane is perfect to print out all of the files Montoya send and start at least familiarizing himself with the case. If it’s one of the cases Bruce is going to obsess about, Jim should better be ready.
His theory proves to be sound once he gets to Gotham and heads straight for the Manor. Alfred greets him at the door, and either Jim has gotten much better at reading the man’s expression, or the concern is actually too big to contain.
Of course, Alfred covers it almost perfectly with dry tones and abundance of fussing over everyone. “Have you eaten today, sir?” he asks Jim, and Jim shrugs, going for truth by lying by omission. You can’t just straight and lie to Alfred, that’s something no one can pull off.
There’s something strange about this, being managed like a child when one is well over fifty, but Jim doesn’t dare point that out to Alfred. Some things you just don’t do.
“I had an interview during lunch,” he says, hoping that it suggests that actual food was eaten during the interview.
“Just coffee, I presume,” Alfred concludes and rightly so. His abilities are uncanny; Bruce had suggested on more than one occasion that all they had to do to break someone in interrogation was to leave them in the room with Alfred and his eyebrow.
After all, Alfred had vast experience in managing Bruce Wayne, king of the evasive maneuvers.
“I’ve been told Babs is here?” Jim asks, once he’s pressured into staying for dinner. Alfred nods and wordlessly indicates the living room.
Babs is, indeed, there, sprawled on the couch, watching with some dismay as a car explodes on the giant tv screen. Jim has heard, many times, the spiel on computer games being harmless escapism and that most of the kids, and his kids in particular, are smart enough to tell fiction from reality, but he still doesn’t like the more violent games. Maybe it’s the side effect of actually being in adrenaline-fueled manic car chases a few times, and on the receiving end of a bullet one time more than he’d want to be. On the other hand, Bruce, with much more danger in his life, is greatly amused by all the CGI explosions, so it might just be the generation gap.
Which is kind of sad, when you think of it.
“Hey, Dad,” Babs says, looking up, pushing away her joystick control with some relief. The kid, Grayson, stands up, not really looking up.
“Sir,” he says, nodding, and Jim nods back, looking at him for a moment. He’s not sure what he expected to see, but the kid reminds him of Bruce, to be honest, from long ago. He’s wearing a similar, closed off expression, with just enough anger and guilt. It’s not the same, the kid is older and hides it better, but it’s still recognizable. Jim wonders if that’s what Bruce saw, if that’s what drives him now.
The familiarity is not surprising, considering their experiences, but it’s still a little unexpected, and all too much like a kick in the gut.
Babs waves at him subtly, probably trying to say he should stop with the staring, and Jim smiles at her. “Where’s your brother, by the way?”
She shrugs, nodding at the change in non-existent topic. It’s not smooth enough to cut the tension, but Grayson sits down again, absently reaching for remote, turning it in his hands.
“Though I’d like to point out I’m not my brother’s keeper,” she says, like she always does. “He’s probably at Devika’s. I think it’s their anniversary, or it would be, if they were in a relationship, which I’m told they’re not.”
They’re told that a lot.
“Richard, right?” he asks of the young Grayson, getting a curt nod in return. He’s been much more at ease earlier, before Jim had made his presence known, which just shows that Bruce was right again, about Barbara being the right person for the job of keeping him company. Jim would gladly give him more time, but there are things that need to be done. “Have you given your statement yet?” he asks, knowing the answer already; he’s read Montoya’s files and reports.
“No, sir. But I talked to Bruce.”
It’s a surprising comment that could be taken in many ways, but something in the kid’s voice makes Jim do a double take, catching Barbara’s eye.
She shrugs, her expression clearly stating ‘don’t look at me’. “Didn’t say anything,” she offers, hand to her chest, which could be taken as a declaration of innocence, but her fingers are splayed in something that could possibly resemble a bat. She glances pointedly at Richard and raises her eyebrows.
Apparently having a secret identity isn’t what it used to be, if teenagers start to figure you out that easily.