Rating: NC-17 for the series, R for this part.
Right after seven Jim's almost halfway out of his office, when his phone rings, perking up with the ridiculous tune Babs had installed on her last visit. The kids seem to compete in setting him up with the worst possible ringtone in existence. And yet he keeps it up, pretending he has no idea how to change it.
He's greatly tempted to ignore it, and just get home, but, as always, he just ends up sighing and picking up, and upon hearing the Mayor's voice on the line, regretting it. He settles back into his chair, and readies himself for a lengthy discussion on the budget, and why it's already almost all spent, and it's still August, and why the arrest rate is so low, and why the search for Batman isn't turning up anything new.
They have a conversation along these lines pretty much every two weeks or so, and every damn time Jim misses the old days when not only people were shooting at him, but he could occasionally shoot back.
As a result, it's almost dark when he leaves the office, Penny is long gone, and all the desks at the station are manned by the night shift crew. They nod at him without surprise; he is well known for working after hours, it has been true when he was married, when he was divorced, and now that he is... well, not alone, he supposes. There probably is no right definition for this, and he doesn't fancy trying to find one. Thinking too much never did him any good.
When he gets to his house, the lights are on. He had never actually got around to giving Bruce a spare key, but he figured that of all people, Batman was the least likely to let a simple lock stop him from getting where he wanted. And apparently, he wasn't wrong. He walks in, closing the doors behind him and the hinges squeak softly. Bruce looks up from the couch, smiling, and Jim has a strange moment of calm detachment, as if he is watching it from the outside, the scene they make as Bruce stands up, makes three steps to cross the room, his arms sneaking around Jim, mouth trailing down Jim's jaw, warm and wet.
Following the eerie detachment comes that sinking feeling in his stomach, that odd mixture of happiness and dread, and he closes his eyes, leaning into a kiss. Bruce obliges, as always, lips parting with a soft sigh, his fingers already working out the knot on Jim's tie, easing it off with a slick sound. Then, Bruce moves back, and methodically starts on unbuttoning Jim's shirt, his face comically serious and concentrated.
"So, how was work?" he asks, eyes still on the task, and Jim barks a laugh.
"Greatly exciting. Penny got me a new set of manilla folders for my files," Jim mutters, and rolls his eyes at himself. For all the complaining one might think he doesn't really enjoy they quiet days, the lack of madmen terrorizing the city. He does appreciate the calm, he just would prefer it if it didn't come with so much paperwork.
Bruce smirks. "I'm not sure if I can compete with that in the excitement department," Bruce says, pushing Jim's shirt completely off, letting it fall to the floor. "But I'll do my best."
"Oh, I usually find your best quite acceptable," he says, aiming for nonchalant, and arriving at breathless, when Bruce's fingers skim right over the waistband of his pants. Jim catches Bruce's wrist, stills his hand for a second, and they both stop, inches apart, breathing harshly. "I think it's my turn," he says, and shifts, a one-two step reminiscent of the waltz Barbara taught him once, but he never enjoyed waltz as much as he enjoys this.
Bruce's back hits the wall, head thrown back, his throat exposed invitingly. There's something about this gesture, the trust inherent in it, the sheer eroticism of it, that never fails to hasten Jim's breathing.
He thinks briefly on being too old for making out in the hallways, but the bedroom is too far away, and Bruce is here, and Jim can't bring himself to part even for the few seconds it would take to get into the room. Instead, he just moves his body against Bruce's, a near perfect fit, hands brushing clumsily as they both work to get rid of the material separating them.
It's messy and intense, as if they hadn't been together for weeks, not for a day, but this is the only apology they're both ready to give and ready to accept. This close, it's almost easy to forget walking away, it's easy to pretend the anger and disappointment happened to someone else. He groans, deep in his throat, when Bruce reaches out to slowly rub his length, and in return, Jim speeds up his own efforts. It doesn't take long till they're both panting and sliding down to the floor, a heap of limbs, loosely entwined.
"Jim," Bruce starts, voice low and soft, when the cheerful ringtone of Jim's cell cuts him off. Mere seconds later, before either of them reacts, Bruce's phone perks up as well.
"Gordon," Jim says into his phone, after fishing it out from the pile of clothes beside them. He listens to the dispatch officer, and disconnects with a sigh. Bruce has already finished his call, and is putting on his shirt, looking with some dismay at places where buttons should be and are not. "I assume you know, then?" Jim asks, and Bruce nods.
"My computer picked up the police radio chatter."
There's a few things Jim can say to that, starting with how illegal it still is, but he prefers not to concentrate on the material for arguments while he still has his pants off. "You have your computer call you? Of course you do."
Bruce just rolls his eyes, an exasperated expression he doesn't often wear, but Jim has to admit, looks good on him. Not that there is anything that doesn't. "It has the worst timing, though."
"Times like this," Jim mutters, gathering his own clothes and putting them on, "I wish I had listened to my father and became a doctor." He looks up at Bruce's snort. "What?"
"Nothing," Bruce shrugs. "Just that when you're regretting a job that calls you in in the middle of the night, you consider taking up a profession that, well, would call you in in the middle of the night? Peculiar."
"Oh, shut up," Jim mutters, but he's smiling. He also can't find his tie, one of them must have kicked it away at some point. Maybe under the couch?
"And I had the unfortunate pleasure of being on the receiving end of your first aid. And your bedside manner."
"What's wrong with my bedside manner?" Jim asks suspiciously, deciding to go without the tie. It's still too hot for it anyway, no matter what the weather forecasts say about chances of rain.
"Let's see... 'It's not that bad, you may even survive', I think this would be the direct quote."
Really, one day he's going to get stuck in the middle of a Bruce Wayne-caused eyeroll. Bruce, on the other hand, is grinning smugly, and if it would happen that all your knowledge of Bruce Wayne came from tabloids and official tv interviews, for all you know, he is stuck this way. Jim knows better, however, which is partly why he fixes him with a serious glare.
"Bruce, I'm just going to say this once. Don't do anything stupid. It's a police operation, and unless it all gets fubared, you stay out of it. Alright?"
Bruce holds his gaze for a long moment, long enough for Jim to almost reconsider the harsh tone. Almost. "Fine," he says, finally.
Jim nods, slowly, his expression softening; he really can't help it. "Good. Then I'll hope I won't see you there," he adds, as they walk out, and Bruce smiles slightly.
"In any case, I'll see you back here, later." It sounds like a definitive plan, but they both know that Gotham has a knack for interfering with those. Still, it's nice to hope, and nice to have something to look forward to.
They stop at Bruce's car, and Jim raises his eyebrow at this, because for once, it's not over the top and faster than some planes.
Bruce shrugs. "I stole Alfred's. Figured I needed something more discreet."
"Does Alfred know you stole it?"
"Ah, that's the best part. No. This is, I would think, the definition of stealing."
Jim tries not to laugh, as he's already turning to walk to his own car. "When he finds out, I'm not going to back you up. You're on your own."
He's still smiling when he starts the ignition and pulls out of the driveway. The smile lasts him all the way to the yellow tape and the barrier of the police cars at the end of a seemingly peaceful street, brownstones on both sides, then it disappears in a sigh.
Getting out of the car, he nods at Stephens, and those officers he knows. "Are we sure it's him?"
Stephens nods gravely.
Escalating, Gordon thinks, Bruce was right that it was going to fast to be a coincidence. Stephens looks at the building, frowning. "Thanks to your source we were able to get the adress, too bad we're a tad too late." There's a certain emphasis on the 'source', and Jim has the grace to look slightly apologetic. But it's Stephens, and Jim trusts him even with this. "He has the girl inside, from what we were able to determine, probably in the basement. By the description the neighbours gave, she fits the profile, too."
Fantastic. Jim wipes his forehead with his sleeve, both the heat and the stress contributing to the sheen of sweat. "Did you get the shrink?"
They had a psychologist working 'round the clock on this one. Jim didn't trust the psycho-babble at first, but apparently she was dead right even on the look of the house, so maybe there was something to it. Stephens nods. "We called her in, but she lives on the other side of the city, it will take half an hour, at least..." his voice fades, and Gordon grits his teeth. Time. One thing they don't have. None of the previous victims lived long, once he had them.
"Do we..." he stops, and frowns, squinting his eyes as he makes out the shadows around the second floor window. "Idiot," he mutters under his breath. "Fucking idiot."
Stephens glances at him with surprise, but then his gaze follows Jim's, understanding appearing on his face. "Commish," he starts, then pauses, as a shot resounds from inside the house, then another. Jim breaks into a run before the echo dies, and other follow swiftly behind him. They break up inside, securing the floors quietly and efficiently, but Jim heads straight for the basement. He's not sure how he knows where to go, but he knows.
The doors are already kicked open, and the scene at the bottom of the stairs gives him pause. His gaze finds the girl, first, and thank god she's alright. She can't be more than fifteen, her eyes wide and scared, but there's the same look he had seen before, in his own son and daughter, the one where they started to believe it was all over. She's staring into what he first takes for a heap of something or other, but what on closer look turns out to be Batman, crunching on the floor over a body, his leg bent under a frighteningly unnatural angle.
"Is he dead?" Jim asks, and Batman looks up, shaking his head.
"Unconscious. Fell down the stairs."
Gordon nods, his breath calming a little before he realises that not only Stephens, but also three other officers had followed him downstairs, and now are looking at the scene with their guns still drawn. "At ease," he says, and reluctantly, they listen.
He walks the last two steps down, and crouches in front of the girl. "Hello. I'm Jim Gordon. And you are?" he asks, keeping his voice as soft as possible. He can feel the gazes on the back of his head, but only one really makes his skin burn, better than a laser.
"Nicole," she whispers, after three drawn breaths, and he nods.
"Nicole, it's okay. You hear me? It's okay now," he says, reaching to help her stand up. She leans against him, as if her legs weren't supporting her yet, her hand trembling as it rests on his arm. "Stephens, help the lady out. You, too," he glances at the officers briefly. Maybe if he pretends nothing is wrong with this situation, with Gotham's most wanted few inches away and Gotham's commissioner not lifting a finger to arrest him... well, maybe it will all go away.
Yeah, he thought so.
"You heard the commish," Stephens says, and starts walking up the stairs, Nicole throwing a look over her shoulder, at Batman, then at Jim.
Jim forces himself to smile at her. "It's okay, Nicole. Go with detective Stephens, he'll make sure you'll be alright." And, Jim knows, he'll make sure Jim is covered, at least for tonight. Tomorrow, he'll deal with it. Somehow. He still has no idea what he's going to do, but he'll figure it out, he has to.
With a sigh, he turns to Batman. "What the hell were you thinking?" he asks, and can't even be bothered to keep his voice steady. He's mildly surprised that it comes out less furious, and just... tired. God, he's really tired, of all of this.
"Jim," he starts, standing up, and Gordon shakes his head.
"No. No, you don't," he says forcefully, then looks down, at the way Batman is holding himself up, favouring one leg, and closes his eyes for a moment. "Later," he adds, and steps forward, reaching out, waiting for Bruce to let himself be helped out. After a moment of pause, he does.
on to Part Five