Rating: PG for now.
Word count: 1810 for this part.
The main problem is, Jim supposes, that he really didn't see that one coming. Actually figuring out what the hell happened takes him a lot longer than it should, given the pride he always took in his detective skills. And even then it still confuses the hell out of him, the very idea that Bruce Wayne of all people would be attracted to him is, frankly, ridiculous.
Apparently being ridiculous doesn't make it impossible.
Bruce has apparently chosen avoidance, out of the possible coping techniques, and it could be for the best, but Jim feels strangely disappointed. It's not that he's attracted to Bruce, he had never even thought about it, but...
Well, fine. The nagging voice in his head that usually annoys the hell out of him keeps calling him a liar, but that's not the point. He might have had a passing thought, in the detached way he notices that certain people are quite attractive.
He sighs, leaning back in his chair, pushing the reports away, closing the folders for the day.
He got used to having Bruce Wayne in his life, had come to really like him. And now, maybe this is for the better, but he doesn't like it one bit.
Getting home takes him longer than usual, Friday traffic is quite awful, and when he walks in, Babs and Jimmy are already back from school, he can hear them laughing. To his great surprise, Bruce is there, sprawled on the floor, letting the dog crawl over him. He looks up when Jim enters, and nods slowly, his expression careful and his smile hesitant.
"Dad, we called him Biscuit," Babs offers, placing a dog treat on Bruce's shoulder, and laughing as the puppy makes his way there, sniffing.
"Finally," Jim mutters. "One more day, and I would settle this once and for all and name him Spot."
"He doesn't even have any spots," Jimmy points out. "And he likes biscuits," he adds.
"Biscuit it is. Did my kids remember to offer you something to drink?" he asks Bruce, and gets a shrug in return. "Coffee, then?" He makes his way to the kitchen before Bruce answers, he does know that coffee is always a good idea.
After a moment, Bruce joins him, leaning against the counter, as if waiting for something. Jim turns to look at him searchingly, taking a moment. For once, Bruce has not bothered to school down his face into whatever expression he thinks necessary, and his emotions are displayed there for Jim to see. Apology, hope, fear, Jim sees it all, and after a moment, he nods.
"So, are you staying for dinner?" he asks, smiling softly. "I warn you, it's take-out night."
"Oh, I know. That's why I came, much better than your cooking," Bruce says cheerfully, then grows serious for one moment more. "Jim... I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking, at all. I am here. I will be here."
Jim nods. "I know. And now, if you could be there," he points to the couch and the kids. "And stop them overfeeding the poor dog, I would be very grateful."
It's pretty much back to normal after that. And no, even Jim doesn't believe this, he's never been good at lying, not to others and not to himself. It's kind of annoying, the way he had been perfectly fine with being oblivious, but one shocking kiss, and his good sense is fried. It's as if the sensation of Bruce's lips and fingers was etched into his skin, and it doesn't fade.
And the worst thing is, Bruce doesn't seem affected at all, it's as if he had decided to ignore whatever it was between them and with that decision it disappeared. He laughs with the kids, spoils them rotten as usual, and teases Jim constantly. It's beyond annoying.
Two weeks of this, and Jim is starting to consider his options, but has no time to actually decide on anything, as one Wednesday evening, few minutes after dinner, he gets a phone call from Stephens that makes him swear, and then immediately call Bruce.
"Could you come over and stay with the kids for a while?" he asks absently, his shoulder pressing the phone to his ear as he's putting on the coat.
"Sure. Something wrong?" There's immediate worry in Bruce's voice, and Jim shrugs, taking the phone into his hand again.
"Not with the kids, don't worry. There was a robbery at a corner deli downtown, Montoya got shot. Stephens says it's not life-threatening, at least, but I need to check up on her," he explains quietly. The worst part is that she wasn't even on duty, just making a grocery run, wrong place, wrong time. He hates any one of his people getting hurt, but this makes it even worse.
"I can be there in ten minutes."
"They can stay alone for twenty," Jim says, rolling his eyes. "You remember there are speed limits in this city?"
"Details," Bruce sounds distant, as if he was already moving, possibly putting on his own coat. "Ten minutes. Don't worry."
"I worry every time you drive," Jim tells him pointedly, and disconnects, calling for Barbara to let her know he's leaving, and that Bruce would be coming by shortly. She gives him a slightly pointed look that says that she's thirteen and doesn't need a baby sitter, but it's belied by the happy smile for the thought of Bruce coming over.
Montoya's injury turns out to be indeed not very serious, and she's already pressing the attending doctor as to when she can get out of the hospital. She also manages to rope Jim into getting her a cheeseburger after she complains for half an hour about the hospital food. Stephens just rolls his eyes and says that he had been on two donuts runs already, and he's really glad it's not serious, but he's going to strangle her soon. Jim stays long enough to talk to the doctor, and then tells Renee to take care and drives back home, leaving Stephens on baby-sitting duties, which he doesn't appreciate, but Montoya seems happy about.
When he gets home, it's well past the kids' bedtime, and he wonders if Bruce let the stay up, but the house is almost completely silent and dark, only the tv screen in the living room giving a blue light, soundless. Jim walks in quietly, and heads up, checking on the kids. They're both soundly asleep, Barbara's book in her lap, her glasses still on her nose. Jim puts them away, and switches off the night light, then heads back down, where Bruce seems to be asleep as well, sprawled on the couch.
Jim's about to reach out and prod Bruce's shoulder, but he hesitates for a brief moment, just looking down, at the smooth lines of Bruce's face. He looks more relaxed now than Jim has ever seen him, and this is strange, as Bruce Wayne seems to be always at ease. Apparently not.
"You planning to stand there long?" Bruce asks, not opening his eyes, and Jim flinches, blushing.
"I thought you were asleep."
"I was," Bruce confirms, opening his eyes and sitting up. "Then someone was standing over me and I got a little bit worried."
"Sorry," Jim says, moving to sit down on the couch, making Bruce scoot over. "The kids didn't cause you any trouble?"
"None. You know, I might be starting to tolerate them," Bruce offers dryly, and Jim gives him the expected eyeroll. "How's Montoya?"
"Her usual self."
"That's good. Probably," he looks at Jim for a moment, then sighs. "What is it, Jim?"
The way his thigh is pressed against Jim's side is distracting, almost too much, and yet, Jim doesn't want to move. "I was wondering... are you busy tomorrow at lunch? We could go out."
Bruce shrugs, smiling slightly. "Sure. Letting the kids play hooky from school?" he asks, and Jim shakes his head slowly. He hates having to spell it out, especially since he's still not sure it's a good idea, but... it may be worth a try.
"I meant you and me," he says, and his hands are sweating, and honestly, it's been a long while since he had last asked anyone out, and he really would have nothing against it staying that way. "I meant..." he starts, and he can tell exactly when Bruce gets it, because first his eyes widen in surprise, and then his entire face closes up, all expression schooled down.
"Jim," he says, shaking his head. "Don't do that."
"I'm fine. And whatever I feel for you won't change anything. Not unless you let it," he offers blankly, and Jim's stomach tightens almost painfully. And yet, there's a part of him that's all too glad at the soft admission of feelings, apparently something beyond the attraction, and he should be ashamed of himself, but he's just kind of lightheaded.
"Bruce," he starts, and then decides on a different approach. He half expects, as he moves forward, that Bruce would pull away, but nothing like that happens, and Jim's lips softly brush Bruce's, the hesitant kiss that should have been their first. And then, just as he's about to pull away, he feels Bruce relaxing, the tension Jim had not realised was even there easing away. Bruce's fingers thread Jim's hair, pulling him closer, the kiss turning hungry and enthusiastic, and they're both shifting closer, taking their time, their tongues exploring each other's mouth, mapping them intimately.
Bruce groans, deep in his throat, a low sound that sends a shiver down Jim's spine, and then he pulls away reluctantly, drawing a disappointed sigh from Jim. "Fine, lunch tomorrow," Bruce agrees, and he's smiling, wide and happy, and Jim's heart skips a beat, because if he had thought he had seen Bruce Wayne smile before, he had not seen this. "I should go," he adds, and Jim nods.
"You should," he agrees, and doesn't move, his hand still resting on Bruce's arm, their mouth still too close for his breathing to calm down.
Bruce laughs, and kisses Jim briefly, just a touch of his lips this time, and then stands up. "I'll pick you up at work tomorrow."
"Sounds like a plan," Jim agrees, and, as the doors close behind Bruce, lets his head fall against the back of the couch. Somehow, he can't stop smiling.