Rating: NC-17 for the series, PG for this part.
The first thought Jim has after waking up is that the ceiling seems unfamiliar.
Only after a moment he realises, that it's his own ceiling, in his own bedroom, and that sometime in the night he had shifted to the other side of the bed. The radio clock on his bedside table perks up, in time for the news, and he lies still, listening. Yesterday's event is briefly reported, as PD's success in apprehending several drug dealers. At least the PR is working. No mention of Batman, and Jim pushes down the feeling of disappointment and encourages the one of relief.
An extremely perky weather girl launches into the forecast, predicting colder days, and a chance of rain. Not likely, judging from the clear sky and sunshine outside.
Jim sighs and moves to get up, grimacing just a little at the protesting muscles. Either he's getting old, or he's getting tired. Considering it was the first night in about two weeks that he actually slept through, he thinks he knows the answer.
He pads into the kitchen, and turns the coffee maker on; it won't be as good as Alfred's, but the caffeine dose will do. He drinks it quickly, even though it scolds his lips, but he needs to get showered, get dressed, and get out of his house before he starts thinking of anything but the work day before him.
First order of the day, visit at Gotham Central, rebuilt in record time, even larger than before, funded mostly by Wayne Enterprises, fact not let out to the general public, per Mr Wayne's personal request. Marsh is conscious, and looks rather well, apart from the bandage on his head. Total list of injuries comes up to three broken fingers, two cracked ribs, and a concussion, which, considering, isn't so bad.
"A visit from the Commish, huh?" Marsh welcomes him with a smile. "Now I feel really special."
Jim nods, sitting in the visitor's chair. "Just checking if everything is okay. You took a rather strong blow to the head."
He gets a very slow nod, Marsh holding his gaze steadily. "Yeah. A rather unfortunate thing, too, I passed right out and missed the grand rescue scene. Apparently you took four men singlehandedly, so, thanks." It comes out a little too lightly, but Marsh's expression is completely open and honest. Almost too much so.
"Thank you," he says quietly, and waits before he adds, in his normal tone. "Great work, detective. It's apparently one of the most successful drug busts in the history of this city."
"Good to hear," Marsh says, smiling slightly. "Although, let me tell you, Commish, I wouldn't mind never working undercover again."
It's a pointed sentence, and Gordon tilts his head, considering him. "You're thinking of requesting a transfer?"
"I've heard that the search for Batman has stalled. Maybe I could help there."
There's a hopeful tone to his voice that Jim recognizes instantly, and closes his eyes for a second. It sounds just like Jim felt looking at a mobster chained to a giant light, as if things were changing, as if there was something better coming his way. It hurts, just a little. He nods.
"I'll have you transferred to the task force. But first, you're taking some time off, and I don't want to see you before you get an all clear from the doctors, understood?"
Marsh laughs, hard enough to cough. "Is making a pot and kettle remark going to get me fired?" he asks, and that gets a smile out of Jim.
"Not today," he says, and stands up. "Get well, detective."
Reluctantly, he gets back to his office and the piles of paperwork. They seem even more daunting than yesterday, and sure enough, reports on the events had been added to the heap, along with the preliminary findings of the crime scene unit, and a file on detective Marsh he requested. He doesn't find anything he didn't expect, good record, impressive number of arrests, no complaints. Nothing extraordinary, but maybe there will be.
He sighs, putting the file away. He's not sure if it's fair, to drag the man into this, but he had asked, and Gordon will take any help on this, anything that gets him closer to finishing this charade. And, most importantly, Jim can't always be there, on the scene, in the middle of the action. More often than not, he finds himself buried behind the desk, shifting paperwork around. Part of him really misses being shot at. Yesterday was... well, emotionally exhausting, of course, but it was exciting, too.
He glances at the piles of paperwork, and sets to work, pushing his glasses up his nose tiredly.
Some time later, a quick glance at his watch tells him it's been three hours, he decided he needs a break, and he needs a cup of coffee, as the letters and numbers on the expenses slips start to blur before his eyes. He presses the intercom button to ask his secretary for coffee, but she doesn't respond. With a sigh he gets up and heads out, resigning himself to the crap coffee they have in the vending machine, making a mental note to order a new, better one, which makes coffee that tastes as if it was made from coffee beans, not asphalt.
Outside, he instantly sees the reason for Penny's distraction, and rolls his eyes.
"Mr Wayne, what brings you here?"
Bruce directs the multi-watt smile at him, the obviously fake one. Sometimes Jim wonders why on earth no one seems to see through the facade, it's so overdone, so obvious. But then again, he hadn't either, before it all started, and he knows how easy it is to believe in what you want to see.
"Would you believe I was in the neighbourhood, commissioner?" he asks, grinning widely enough to show off all of his teeth. Jim always wants to ask him if this hurts.
Instead, he just rolls his eyes. "No." Bruce smiles even wider, and apparently yes, it's possible, even if probably defying some laws of physics, or at least anatomic possibilities. "Is it about tickets, again?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about, I'm a very considerate driver. No, I have a more important matter to discuss. A fundraiser, commissioner."
Jim gives a fairly convincing, if he is any judge, groan of despair. Then opens the door to his office, and invites Bruce inside, nodding at Penny. "No calls while I argue to be very busy and important."
Penny giggles, and sends one more adoring smile Bruce's way. On a normal day Jim finds her efficient and sensible, it's extremely disconcerting to see her flip her hair and bat her lashes whenever Bruce happens to be around. "Would you like me to bring some coffee 'round, commish?" she asks, and Jim glances at Bruce, then shakes his head.
"No, thank you, Penny," he says, and closes the door behind them.
It's a good thing he does, because the next thing he feels is said doors against his back as Bruce pushes him gently, leaning in for a slow, wet kiss, tongue sliding against Jim's lips impatiently, hands resting on the sides of his face. Jim tilts his head back, his fingers clutching at Bruce's shirt, letting himself relax into the warm body pressed against his. For the moment, he just closes his eyes.
Then, as Bruce moves away a few inches, Jim smiles. "That your new tactic to convince me to come to that fundraiser of yours?"
Bruce laughs. "Oh, you'll going to like this one. It's on my yacht."
"I fail to see what I'm going to like about it," he says dryly.
"It's for the new city-wide security system. I'm sure you've been to the city council meeting on that one."
He has. And he didn't like the proposed changes and budget cuts. He sighs. "CCTV?"
"To begin with," Bruce agrees. "See, I knew you'd like this."
"If I didn't know better, I'd swear you're doing those things just to get me into a tux," he offered wryly, stepping aside and walking to his desk.
"No, just out of it," Bruce shrugs, but there's no feeling in the tease this time. He sighs. "Jim..."
"I talked to detective Marsh today," Jim says quickly, before Bruce starts saying anything more, leading to the conversation he doesn't feel like having. Not now, not today, not here. "He wants in on the task force."
He doesn't have to explain which one. Bruce nods, his mouth setting into a thin line, all business now. "Do you trust him?"
That's a good question, isn't it? Once, Jim would have huffed and exclaimed that Marsh is one of his men, of course he trusts him. It's different now, and he hesitates, shrugging. "How much did you trust me when you broke into my office and held me at stapler-point?"
It doesn't even get him a smirk in response. Instead, Bruce fixes him with a stare intense enough to bring colour to Jim's face, warm up his skin so he feels it burning up. "Completely," Bruce says, simply, his voice low enough to border on the edge of the other one. "As I do now."
It's not true, not really, and Jim wants to point it out, wants to finally be able to say it all, but again; it's not the time, and it's definitely not the place.
"I'll have him transferred when he's back on duty," he says instead, and sits down in his chair, behind the barrier of the desk and the paperwork. From Bruce's expression he knows this has been received loud and clear.
"If you think it's a good idea," Bruce offers, and it's not an agreement, but he's not arguing either. If anything, he seems like he doesn't care, and this, just this, is what pisses Jim off the most; the indifference, as if he doesn't care, as if he gave up on dealing with this, on clearing Batman's name. Well, damn, tough, because Jim didn't. And if Bruce did, then Jim's going to need all the allies he can get.
"It's settled, then," is all he says.
Bruce nods. "The other thing I wanted to ask," he says, hands in his pockets, shoulders slightly slumped, and for some unfathomable reason, he seems almost nervous. Jim can't imagine why. "Dinner tonight?"
For a brief defiant moment Jim wants to decline, lie that he has work, or that he's tired and wants a full night of sleep, but he had one already and didn't really like it all that much. And Bruce is still looking at him, and it's one of the moments when his face is completely open and unguarded. "Of course," he says. "My place," he adds, and it says a lot when Bruce doesn't even argue.
"Oh, good, I've been in a mood for take-out for the entire week."
Jim gives him a look. "I can actually cook, you know? Not on Alfred's level, of course, but it's edible."
Bruce nods. "I'm sure," he says, as if he really wasn't. "But cooking takes valuable time that could be spent... otherwise."
This one definitely warrants an eyeroll. "I'll see you later, then," he says, and Bruce smiles.
"Of course, commissioner," he says, opening the door. "And by the way, you've mentioned my tickets..."
"Have a nice day, Mr Wayne," Jim says pointedly, and Bruce salutes him before making his exit. Jim can still hear his voice, chatting to Penny, who titters and flirts. He sighs, and sets down to work through as much paperwork as he can.
on to Part Four