Rating: NC-17 for the series, PG-13 for this part.
A/N: This story started in Night Lights and took a life of it's own, spawning this sequel, and another one, in the works. I'd like to thank everyone who supported me, and commented on this, every one of you made my day, every time. Especially, thanks to juana_a for her enthusiasm, and kubis for threats and demands. I wouldn't have written this without you guys.
Also, a brief announcement: I'm attempting a NaNoWriMo Bruce/Gordon marathon, take a moment and make a request here if there's something you'd like to see me write.
Jim doesn't really have a plan. He supposes it's painfully obvious, but Bruce mercifully doesn't comment on it. What Jim does know is, they're not waiting for the next great disaster, it's time to do whatever is in their power to clear Batman's name, and if they have to start slow, they will.
In the afternoon following what Bruce starts calling The Punch with too much amusement for Jim's liking, Stephens and the three other officers who had witnessed the previous night's events are invited into the commissioner's office and told plainly, in no uncertain terms, what exactly happened over a year ago, with Harvey Dent, Gordon's family, and Batman.
Jim watches their faces for the reactions, judges carefully the pauses and wide eyed surprises, and hopes he won't regret his decision. Slowly, their faces smooth out in acceptance, and Stephens grumbles that he could have used that particular information months ago.
It sets Jim into such a good mood he's even happy to deal with the paperwork for the rest of the day. Well, for about half an hour of the rest of the day, but then he sets into trying to figure out the roster and how to change it to transfer people in and out of the Batman task force, and it gives him a headache.
When Penny comes in at six with the last coffee she made for him before her workday ends, he thinks he almost has it all figured out, but then he notices he'd be short of people on night shift in the Narrows, and that just won't do. Frustrated, he tears up the sixth sheet of paper, and misses the bin by a good few inches. He sighs, and takes off his glasses. He can shoot bulls-eyes on the firing range any day, but after hours of paperwork his vision is blurry. Maybe it's time for new glasses, he thinks, pinching the bridge of his nose.
"Long day?" Bruce asks from the doorway, and Jim smiles slightly. Not that he doesn't miss Batman coming in through the window, but doors do have their advantages.
"All days are long," he says, and pushes his chair slightly away from the desk, for a good measure throwing an irritated look at the papers covering his desk.
Bruce closes the doors behind him and crosses the room, perching at the side of the desk, looking at Jim with some concern. "Are you sure you want to..." he starts, and Jim rolls his eyes.
"Yes. I do reserve the right to complain about the paperwork, though," he warns, then sighs, turning in the chair to face Bruce. It spins a little too much and he puts his hand out on the desk to steady himself. "I called Mayor Garcia today."
"Did he die of shock?" Bruce asks pleasantly, and Jim glares at him briefly.
"I don't always avoid him."
"No, only when it's about budget, public appearances, parties, board meetings, any sort of..."
"Done?" Jim says a little bit too loudly.
Bruce grins back. The bruising is almost invisible now, and Jim wonders how many bruises he had failed to notice before he knew the secret, how many other clues. It's really not a comforting thought.
When he looks back up, Bruce's smile had been replaced by a frown. "Whatever you are thinking about, Jim," Bruce says quietly, "you should stop."
Jim shakes his head at him, but Bruce just slides smoothly along the edge of the desk, pushing the paperwork aside, until he's right in front of Jim, looking down, his eyes slightly clouded. "Your shift has ended..." he makes a show of looking at his watch, "seven minutes ago. Learn when to relax, Jim."
Jim laughs at that. "I've heard a saying, once. Something about kitchen utensils? A pan... no, a pot. And possibly a kettle."
"Cross off comedian of your list of possible vocations if you ever have enough of the law enforcement," Bruce mutters, and reaches to the knot of Jim's tie, undoing it almost painfully slowly. "And I do know how to relax, I assure you."
"Normally, I would argue the point," Jim offers, his voice a little hoarse when Bruce's fingertip runs slowly down Jim's neck. "But it's been a long day."
Bruce nods, smiling, but his eyes are serious. "Small steps, Jim."