Rating: PG-13 (for this part)
A/N: Really anxious what you think about this one.
The first time Bruce had... oh, fuck this, counting the first times wasn't doing him any good, especially not on the uncharted waters of... what was he calling it today? Alfred called it 'wooing the commissioner', but Alfred was clearly insane. At Bruce's absolutely innocent and unrelated idea of funding the new crime lab for the GCPD, he had remarked that normal people send flowers first. So, yes, one shouldn't really listen to Alfred.
Not even the criminals were helpful today, one could usually count on their efforts to provide a necessary distraction (if one was a masked vigilante, that is, in other cases, not so much), but nothing so far, and he was actually desperate enough he'd take a minor assault, or, as the day passed, and the desire to go visit Jim Gordon in his office again grew stronger, a cat stuck in a tree (as long as it wasn't anything about a dog. He really doesn't like dogs anymore.)
Thankfully, even though Batman couldn't apparently count on the universe, Bruce Wayne had better luck, and a stroke of it had came with a phonecall from Julie Madison, wishing for a distraction of her own, from revisions to the upcoming bar exam, and all her lawyer- and law studying- friends wanting to know how was she doing. He could have kissed her at this point, and he would have if their relationship was still about that. For the risk of sounding cliche, this boat had sailed, even if it was a much stable and safer one than the one he boarded just a few days ago. Or maybe months ago. What exactly was he counting from?
Also, note to self: look into boats. Batman might find a use for one at some point, and it paid to be prepared.
This was, apart from the strange and a little uncomfortable segue into the subject of boats, roughly how he ended up in a theatre foyer, waiting for Julie to succeed in her efforts of ending a phonecall from her father, about her exams.
"Mr Wayne," someone said, next to him, and he turned with a sinking feeling in his stomach, because by now he really knew this voice.
"I think we've agreed about the first names, Commissioner," he muttered pointedly, rewarded by the infuriating smile, the one where just a corner of Jim's mouth rose in bemusement.
"Ah, yes. I guess we did."
By that point, Julie had finished her conversation and turned off her phone with a frustrated huff, moving to stand next to him. "Good evening, Commissioner," she said with a wide smile, and Gordon nodded curtly, the polite bemusement never leaving his face. Damn him.
"Miss Madison," he said after a moment, clearly recalling the name with some difficulty. Bruce threw him a surprised glance, but then realised the commissioner was obliged to attend quite a lot of social events. And wear a tux to each one of them, apparently, which did wonders for Bruce's libido, and nothing for his self-control. Gordon turned to his left, something catching his eye, and another smile brightening his face, and heaven, was Bruce jealous of whatever had caused this one to appear.
"Ah, Barbara," Gordon said, and Bruce blinked, confused, and wasn't there a divorce? Was... But a girl, not older than thirteen, probably, considering Bruce wasn't the best judge of age when it came to kids, took Gordon's arm with a wide smile.
"Ready, Dad," she pushed her glasses up her nose, in a strangely familiar way, and Bruce was actually quite ashamed for finding this entirely adorable just by the merit of being a mirror of Jim's usual gesture. Adorable. He was using that very word, albeit only in his thoughts, but this wasn't a great comfort. What was the world coming to?
Note to self: look into the therapy idea. Find a therapist who wouldn't actually need the entire story, or, ideally, none of it, to help.
"Miss Gordon," he said, bowing his head, and she gave him a considering stare, then smiled, and nodded back. For his part, Gordon looked entirely too amused by the entire thing. Bruce glared at him for a second.
"It's Babs' birthday," Jim supplied. "The play is a part of the gift."
"Which we're gonna be late for, Dad," Barbara said, striving to keep the petulant note out of her voice, appear grownup. "And I don't really want to look for our row in the dark," she added, in a tone that suggested that this has happened at least once before. Bruce wasn't surprised, he had seen Gordon be late for too many personal events.
"Well, if this is a birthday gift, maybe you would like to join us in the box?" he offered before he could stop himself, earning himself surprised looks from both Julie and Gordon, and a wide smile from Barbara, who turned to her father, tugging at the sleeve of his jacket.
Julie smiled brightly. "That would be fantastic. I hadn't seen the play yet, have you?" she started, and Barbara chatted away, following her inside. Gordon was shaking his head, a soft sound of something muttered under his breath that Bruce couldn't quite make out.
Out loud, however, all Jim said was "Thank you," with a sideways glance at Bruce, a soft smile tugging at his lips, smoothing out the lines in his face. And if Bruce wasn't gone, head over heels and really screwed, this would be the moment he lost it.
And the way the back of his hand briefly brushed Jim's as they walked towards the box? Not helping, not at all.
Julie kept on throwing him curious glances throughout the play, and it might or might not have something to do with the fact that he had spent more time watching Jim Gordon's profile than he did watching the stage. He could almost hear the wheels in her brain turning, considering all the times he had begged off dates, all the nights he had disappeared for when they were still actually doing the dating thing, and coming up with all the wrong conclusions.
Fine, maybe the right conclusions, at this point. But back then, he had the reasonable excuse of fighting crime. And occasionally, secretly meeting Jim Gordon on rooftops, or the fire escape of his house, or... well. Fine.
The play over, Barbara thrilled, but already falling asleep on her feet and trying to hide it bravely, Julie glanced at her watch and announced she does actually need to at least look through her notes, for the peace of mind, and Bruce of course offered to drive her home. He did make a similar offer to Gordon and Barbara, but Jim had just said he had a car outside, and with a final smile steered his sleepy daughter out, turning just once, to glance at Bruce with a small smile.
"God, you really are gone, aren't you?" Julie laughed, and shook her head. "Is it wrong of me to wish for the tabloids to get a whiff of it? The sound of hearts of all Gotham debutantes breaking simultaneously will cause tremors registered on the Richter scale."
"Were you always such a smart-ass, or are you studies to blame?" he asked, and glanced at her searchingly.
She nodded. "Yes, we're fine. Drive me home, I have a date with my books."
He did. And this was supposed to be the end of the night, and for once, he was going to shock Alfred by being home before midnight (barring any interruption from the outlaws of the city, but the way his day was going, this was unlikely). But instead, he found himself first bribing an antique bookshop's owner to open the shop at a very strange hour, and then, even worse, he was standing on Gordon's porch, debating whether he should knock or just walk away and try the crime lab angle.
Finally, awkwardly clutching a package under his arm, he did knock, and listened to the sound of footsteps padding down the stairs. He could still turn away, even without the suit he had a knack for disappearing into the shadows. He could...
The doors opened, and Gordon stared at him, his eyebrows rising in surprise. "Mr Wayne," he said after a second of hesitation. "Now that is a surprise. What can I do for you?"
Why on earth did the man keep on giving him those openings? And to add to the problem, wearing his dress shirt half undone? "Actually, I came here to see your daughter."
Gordon seemed to be doing his best not to laugh. "I'm gonna say that now, she's too young for you."
"Very funny," Bruce raised the package and shook it gently. "Birthday present."
Thankfully, Gordon refrained from asking any more questions, because this was the flimsiest excuse Bruce could come up with, but it had the advantage over all the others by being the only one. He just rolled his eyes, his mustache still moving slightly, as if he was biting back a grin. "Come in, then," he offered, moving aside. "I'll get her," he added, walking up to the stairs. "Babs, seems like you have one more birthday surprise."
She was down the stairs in an instant. In Hello Kitty pyjamas. Bruce's day could get a little more surreal, probably, but he couldn't think of a way. "Here, you've said you've only read the abridged version of the play, and I had this laying around, gathering dust in the library... so, happy birthday."
She glanced at her dad searchingly, then accepted the package, gently easing off the packing paper. She caressed the spine of the book, smiling widely, and then gasped, turning the first page. "Oh, my God. First edition?"
"Gathering dust," Bruce repeated, shrugging, and she lunged forward, hugging him.
Gordon nodded at her. "Good, you'll read it tomorrow. Way past the bedtime."
"Can I just read through the first act?" she pleaded, her eyes already scanning the first page.
"Fine. Only because you're the birthday girl. And don't tell mom I let you stay up so late." She nodded, and started running up the stairs again, giggling, clutching the book close to her chest.
"She does love books," Bruce muttered, smiling with some satisfaction.
Gordon rolled his eyes at him. "Gathering dust?" he repeated with a little overdone nonchalant tone. "Didn't your library burn down, along with the rest of your house?"
Busted. And what was with all the questions? Next time Gordon asks for Batman's help in the interrogation, he sure isn't getting it. He is way too good at it himself.
"That was the other library."
"Clearly," Jim muttered, and made half a step forward, reaching to place his hand against Bruce's neck. "But the scheming is kind of attractive," he added, right before his lips touched Bruce's, the kiss instantly softening as Bruce inched closer, lips parting in a soundless moan.
When, after a moment, Gordon pulled away, leaving all Bruce's senses overloaded, but not in an entirely bad way, he was smiling, Bruce's favourite smile, the open, actually happy one.
"So if I were to call tomorrow and ask you out to dinner, I wouldn't get a no?" Bruce asked, just to hear Gordon laugh.
"Call. I'll see what I can do."