Rating: PG for this part.
Word count: 1072 for this part.
Four days later, Jim finally works up the courage to have the talk with the kids. Bruce had volunteered to be there, but looked all too relieved when Jim told him there's no need. It needs to be done, Jim knows, and the thing is, the kids love Bruce, but it's different now.
He orders pizza, which at least will ensure that they have good moods, even though Barbara looks at him suspiciously, after all, it's not pizza night.
"I need to talk to you," he starts, awkwardly, and Jimmy looks up from the comic book he's reading.
"Are we moving?"
"What?" Jim blinks at him surprised. "No. Why would you think that?"
"Mike's parents were acting strange all week, and now they're moving. You were acting strange."
Babs nods when he looks at her, even though she's trying not to laugh. "Very strange. But if that gets us pizza more often, we won't complain."
He gives them both a long suffering look and shakes his head. "I need you both to know, I loved your mom, still do."
Jimmy gives him a matter-of-fact nod, as if they had talks like this every day. Barbara on the other hand, starts to get a thoughtful look that never bodes well. "You want to start dating again?"
This conversation is definitely not going the way he had planned it. "Why do you think so?"
"Please. We have cable. You start like every dad on every tv show ever."
He knew that a tv set was a bad idea. "I'm sorry for being so predictable."
She shrugs, as if she hadn't expected him to be anything else. Jimmy frowns. "Not Mrs Evanovich?" Barbara grimaces, and Jim throws her a look. Mrs Evanovich had taken to bringing them casseroles at least once a week ever since Barbara's death. Bruce had teased him mercilessly about it.
"No, it isn't Mrs Evanovich," he says, and decides to just cut to the chase and deal with the reactions, whatever they are. "It's Bruce."
That at least surprises Babs, her eyebrows rise so high they almost meet her hairline. Jimmy just bites his lower lip thoughtfully. "So..." Jim prods, and looks at them expectantly. This is definitely not going as he thought it would.
"Dating, like, dating?" Jimmy asks, and Babs pokes him with her elbow.
"How many kinds of dating you know?" she asks, and Jimmy shrugs.
"Well, there's dating like dating, and going out somewhere, and there's dating like when girls sit on the bench during the games."
Barbara flushes a little, and Jim really intends on grilling her about this later. And possibly grounding her till she's thirty, just to be on the safe side. "Dating, like seeing each other," he says dryly. "Going out." He might be flushing more than Babs is, he can feel the sweat gathering on his forehead.
"So, you and Bruce are going to go out," Jimmy says, frowning, and Jim shrugs.
"Or Bruce is going to come by the house. Or, sometimes, we might be spending some time in the Manor."
"All of us?" Jimmy asks.
"Okay," Jimmy says calmly, and picks up his gameboy, apparently loosing interest in the conversation. Jim looks at Barbara, and she shrugs.
"So, not like a lot is going to change," she points out, and he can't deny this. "Just don't make out where we can see you," she warns him with a slightly disgusted look on her face, the one she used to get when she happened to see him kissing Barbara in the kitchen, before she stormed out making lots of noise about parents being gross and embarrassing.
"We'll try," he says, smiling widely, and is about to stand up when Jimmy looks up, as if a thought just came to him.
"So, are you gay now?" he asks, and Jim chokes on his breath.
Babs covers her face with her palm, and he can see her shoulders shaking, even though she's trying to keep it down.
"Well, because Jeremy has a dad and a father, and I don't think they're dating, but they had a..." he looks at Babs, waving his hand vaguely. "Commitment something."
Babs is still laughing, even harder when she catches Jim's eye. "Come on, dork," she tells Jimmy. "We'll make popcorn with caramel." Jim gives her a grateful look and rethinks the grounding idea. Maybe till she's twenty five.
Bruce comes by two hours later, and hovers in the doorway until Jim rolls his eyes and pulls him in. "Relatively safe," he says wryly.
"Relatively?" Bruce asks, walking inside, waiting for Jim to close the doors, hesitating. Jim smirks, and leans in to kiss him lightly, managing to time it exactly with Barbara's entrance.
"Didn't see anything," she groans, raising her book to the eye level, and continuing to the couch hidden behind it. "Are you done?"
Bruce laughs. "Ah. Relatively."
Jim rolls his eyes. He should be given more credit for surviving that conversation. "Hey, Babs," he says, moving to sit in the armchair. "Did you know Bruce plays the piano?" The betrayed look Bruce gives him before Babs almost pounces on him, firing up questions, is definitely priceless.
After this, things get back to normal, only a lot better. Spring changes into summer, surprisingly hot for Gotham's climate, and Jim has to fight Bruce's ideas of taking them all to Europe for holidays. Biscuit grows into a rather large dog, and trails after Barbara wherever she goes. Alfred doesn't complain when the kids almost blow up the mansion's kitchen in the attempt to make brownies. All in all, life is pretty good.
As the summer draws to a close, on a particularly sunny day, they drive to the cemetery, Jimmy fighting uncomfortably with a tie Babs put on him, Jim carrying a bunch of freshly cut roses from their back garden.
"I'll wait in the car," Bruce says, uncomfortably, and Babs shakes her head.
"No, come on, Mom would want to meet you," she tells him pointedly, and holds his hand as they make their way to the grave.
And even though Jim misses Barbara terribly, sometimes so much it physically hurts, he thinks he might be happy. All in all.
on to the sequel