Rating: PG-13 for now.
Word count: 2917 for this part.
Alright, he admits, the part where they drove to Jim's house wasn't the best idea imaginable, but the Wayne Manor was much further away, the hospitals weren't exactly safe for the Batman to turn up in, and Jim was driving, and he tended to be rather tense when Bruce went and got himself injured. At least it was Babs who stumbled upon them, Jimmy's reaction would be strikingly different, probably. He was still surprised, and impressed, by the way she handled it, too.
"Come on, off with it," Jim says, tapping the cowl with his index finger. "You're going to overheat in the suit."
"With our luck tonight, Jimmy is going to want a glass of water in a few minutes," Bruce offers weakly, because Jim does have a point, his throat is already dry, and his breathing is getting harsher, and that's only because his side really fucking hurts.
"If Jimmy's sleeping, nothing will wake him up until at least ten, and you know that. And I don't think Babs would be back. Come on," Jim urges him, and Bruce gives in, letting Jim efficiently remove his cowl, and then ease off the rest of the suit. His fingertips map the bruising, and the slight pressure hurts a bit, but Bruce doesn't mind that much at this moment. "It's not as bad as I thought," Jim says, and Bruce laughs, until it turns into a slightly pained cough. "What?"
"Your bedside manner is awful. As always."
Jim rolls his eyes, but he smiles slightly, and Bruce leans down to kiss him, just the softest touch of lips, at least that was the intention. Jim, however, moves forward, kissing back as if to let go of all the built-up worry and frustration. "I thought we had an agreement on you not getting hurt," Jim mutters, pulling back, and Bruce shrugs.
"I think it was about me not getting shot ever again. Getting hit with food carts wasn't on the list."
"I'll make you a list," Jim warns him, and moves completely back, opening the jar with salve, starting to apply it to the bruising. "Sorry," he says after a moment, shaking his head. "I just can't..."
"It's fine, Jim," Bruce says, covering Jim's hand with his, holding it for a moment, waiting until Jim's expression softens. "And hey, at least we got Nygma."
"Yes, and incidentally, Montoya is going to kill me for sticking her with the interrogation. She hates riddles even more than she hates puns."
"I don't know what you're talking about, Montoya loves puns," Bruce laughs. "When she's making them, that is."
He leans back on the couch, granting Jim a better access to the bruising, and the movement, a little bit too fast, makes his head spin. Jim glances up immediately, not fooled in the slightest by the reassuring smile he gets. "Maybe we should reconsider going to the hospital."
"It's just a concussion," he protests, raising his hand before Jim even starts to eyeroll. "Yes, I know." He might have a chance of winning the argument if he hadn't passed out for a briefest of moments in the car, causing Jim to break at least three or four traffic laws as he rushed to get them home. Arguing that it was all fine now wasn't going to fly. "Call Alfred, he can pick me up and make sure I don't fall asleep."
Jim looks like he's about to protest, but that's the best course of action at this point, he can't really stay over under the circumstances. And Jim probably hadn't yet thought about talking to Barbara, which, despite her seemingly good reaction, might not be the easiest one.
"Let me see," Jim says, his hand cupping the side of Bruce's face and tilting his head to the side, investigating the slight bump on the back of his head. "Not the worst you had," he says quietly, and it sound both comforting and apologetic, and Bruce sighs, closing his eyes and leaning into the touch, his lips brushing against Jim's palm.
It's not the worst he had, no, and it's not even the worst Jim had seen. A year ago, after getting shot (or getting himself shot on purpose, because the alternative was far worse), Bruce was curled on the floor of Jim's office; the bullet had hit one of the weaker spots of the suit, and the resulting haze of pain was thick enough for Jim's voice, yelling for someone to call the ambulance, to be muted, as if coming from a great distance.
When he woke up, hours later, Jim was sleeping in the chair next to the bed, in an uncomfortable position that was going to haunt his muscles later, and Batman's suit was gone, his face covered with a mask made of cloth, not the cowl, probably Jim's idea to combine comfort with an effort to preserve the secret. Bruce had questions, of course, but they could wait a few moments, and Jim looked tired even when he slept; it was almost possible to tell the time that had passed since the failed assassination attempt by the size of the shadows under his eyes.
"Stop watching me, it's annoying," Jim said, even before opening his eyes, reaching out to the side table to pick up his glasses.
"Sorry," Bruce muttered automatically, eyes still fixed on Jim, getting a slight eyeroll and a smile in return.
"How do you feel?"
"Remarkably well. I suppose they have me on painkillers?"
"Not as much of them as they wanted to," Jim shrugged, and the tight set of his lips told Bruce that he had been fighting the doctors on other issues than the meds dosage. "It's not that bad," he offered, answering the unspoken questions. "Only Montoya and Stephens know that you're here, save for the doctors, of course. No one had seen your face, and Stephens talked with all the doctors and nurses multiple times, they are not happy with the secrecy, but they agreed to my terms. Especially as I had the support of the Mayor... I had to tell Garcia about Dent," he added quietly, watching Bruce for reaction, not an easy thing to do when Bruce's face was almost fully covered, but he had enough experience to be able to read the shock and the wariness in his eyes.
"And?" Bruce asked, trying to keep his voice level.
"He sure didn't like the fact we had kept it from him until now. But you know Garcia, he's reasonable enough."
There was more to it, Bruce was sure, but Jim didn't see too worried, more annoyed, which probably meant Garcia made use of the occasion to rope Jim into some official appearances, or possibly actually attending the City Council meetings.
"Apart from that, Bruce Wayne had gone on a business trip to Japan, Alfred took care of everything. He wasn't able to come by here, for the obvious reasons, and you better prepare yourself for a lecture that he had four days to prepare."
"Wonderful," Bruce groaned. "How are the kids doing?"
"Fine. Babs threatened she's going to teach you how to use webcams. I don't think she's kidding, so brace yourself." His tone was light, but the smile he called up didn't reach his eyes.
"I'm sorry," he said, and Jim didn't pretend to misunderstand, like he would under any other circumstances. It wasn't that Bruce wouldn't have done that again, in a heartbeat, they weren't fooling themselves about this one. But he was sorry, for all the fear and worry it had caused.
"Just don't get yourself shot ever again and we'll be fine," Jim joked, his voice tense and strained, the joke falling as flat as humanly possible. He sighed and reached out, fingers lacing with Bruce's. "I can't even begin to imagine what I would do," he added quietly, his voice so matter-of-fact and almost casual Bruce hadn't understood the meaning at first, and then it was like a punch to the gut, overloading his senses.
"I love you," Bruce blurted out, no conscious thought involved in the confession, his words sounding unnaturally loud even though his voice was barely a whisper. Jim's fingers tightened on Bruce's hand, as if grasping for a lifeline, his lips parted, as if forming a confession that never made it out loud, words dying in his throat.
He leaned in, clumsily pushing Bruce's mask up, exposing his throat and chin and lips, material folding over his eyes succeeding in blinding Bruce temporarily, but it didn't matter at that moment, not when Jim was kissing him hungrily, as if their lips were meeting for the first time.
That was a year ago, and now, Bruce's hand moves to cover Jim's, holding it in place as he places a small kiss in the palm of it, his thumb covering the pulsating point on his wrist. "If I am supposed to get home, better go and call Alfred," he says, smiling, and the moment is broken as Jim moves away, nodding.
"He's not going to be happy about being dragged here in the middle of the night."
"He never is," Bruce agrees, bracing himself for the inevitable lecture. He's pretty sure Alfred has them written up somewhere, just in case he needs one. No one is that eloquent and creative when woken up in the middle of the night.
Sunday mornings are Jimmy's favourite part of the entire week. The rule on nutritious and healthy breakfasts is lifted, and no one wakes him up until he wakes up himself and gets downstairs in search of chocolate and jelly. Of course, that's on normal Sunday mornings, not when everyone is acting just a bit weird.
Dad is drinking coffee from the bucket-sized mug he and Babs gave him for his birthday last year, which is pretty normal. Babs, however, is fidgeting in her chair, turning a glass of juice in her hands nervously.
"And I'm not sure how to figure out if he had a good time or not," she's saying, apparently finishing the tale of her date with Steve, and Jimmy loses all the interest he might have had. He has nothing against Steve, he seems less of a jerk than some other guys from the team, but he really doesn't get what Babs sees in him.
Dad sighs, grimacing, and shrugs. "Why don't you ask him?" he suggests, and Jimmy is rolling his eyes in synch with his sister, because, honestly.
"Nevermind," Babs says long-sufferingly, then perks up thoughtfully. "Hey, is Bruce coming over today?"
And that's the moment when Dad takes his turn to act oddly, as he reaches to take off his glasses, blinking tiredly, and avoiding looking at Babs.
"What was that he had to do yesterday?" Jimmy asks with some interest, opening the fridge and looking for the orange juice. The carton he picks up is, of course, almost empty, and he glares at Babs. "What happened to you drink it, you throw the carton away?"
"There's still some inside," she protests, and Jimmy pointedly pours the juice into the glass, getting enough of it for one sip, maybe, if it was a small sip. Babs shrugs, and Jimmy sticks his tongue out at her, before throwing out the carton. "So, is Bruce coming today?" Babs repeats and Dad nods.
"I think so. If the business he was called to deal with yesterday is concluded," he adds, and Jimmy is about to ask what sort of business, but Babs' cellphone rings, followed by her shriek that is louder than the ringtone, and even more annoying, which, given the ringtone, Jimmy had thought impossible.
"Sophie? Hey," she starts, and then walks out of the kitchen, covering her other ear with her hand, as if she was speaking over a largest crowd and not just the sound of the electric kettle running.
Dad looks after her, then turns to Jimmy, eyebrows raised questioningly. Jimmy shrugs, crossing his arms.
"Sophie's tutoring Matt, who is on the team, which means he's friends with Steve. Which means he might know if Steve enjoyed the date. Which means Sophie might be able to find out," he explains. "Have you even been to high school?"
Dad shakes his head, which either means that he actually haven't, which is interesting and possibly a basis for further questioning on why then does Jimmy has to go, or simply means that it was so long ago he had forgotten how it was to date someone in high school. Not that Jimmy has any experience, thank god, but some of his friends start to talk about asking a girl out, and the insanity might be catching.
Biscuit perks up, running out from the living room to wait at the door, and few seconds later Bruce comes in, juggling bags with donuts and a tray with coffee and milkshakes. This is precisely why Jimmy enjoys Sundays. "Hey, Bruce," he says cheerfully, and moves to help him with the donut bags. "Any jelly ones?"
"Of course," Bruce laughs, placing the tray on the kitchen table, and pushing one of the cups towards Dad, who looks at it with some suspicion, takes the lid off and peers inside, then pours it into his own mug.
Babs marches back into the kitchen, pocketing her phone. "Bruce," she says happily, sending him a wide smile, then notices the donuts. "Did you bring the jelly ones?"
"Yes, and they are mine," Jimmy warns her. He's not going to change his mind, she owes him for the juice.
Babs glares at him, then shrugs. "Whatever. Bruce, I need to talk to you," she says, and then, Jimmy thinks, the weirdest thing yet happens, because Bruce, who normally can withstand even the most boring of Babs' diatribes, now, for the briefest of moments, seems to panic, his eyes widening in fear. Babs doesn't seem to notice, just drags Bruce to the couch, questioning him about the ways you can tell that a guy enjoyed a date.
In Jimmy's honest opining, given that the limit of Bruce's experience with dating guys seems to be Dad, he's not really the best person to ask, really.
"Jelly ones are mine," he warns Dad, whose hand is sneaking into the bag. And maybe he'll share with Biscuit, who seems to be the only normal being in the house today.
"He's not going to call today," Bruce warns her.
She sits on the couch, with her legs curled under her, and her elbow resting on the back of the couch, chin in her hand. "Yeah, I know. But I'll see him at school tomorrow, we have History and Spanish together."
"Smile, but don't say anything until he does," he suggests, and Babs nods seriously. "So, did you really enjoy the date?" Bruce asks, smiling.
"The movie was crap, but the date, well, wasn't," she laughs, brushing her bangs away from her face. "Well, until..." she pauses, and rethinks where the sentence was going. "When we got home, Dad kind of interrupted the saying-goodnight part."
"Kind of interrupted?" Bruce asks, and she laughs nervously. She shouldn't have mentioned this, probably. She's dying to ask Bruce whether he knows that Dad knows Batman, actually does know who the Bat is, but there's no good way to ask.
"He broke a glass, made some noise. Completely ruined the mood," she says, putting on a good amount of whine, and Bruce smiles, shaking his head, asking her if she thinks it was on purpose.
Obsessing about Batman was always Jimmy's thing, not hers. Even before... before mom died, Jimmy was always going on about the Bat, asking Dad dozens of questions, trying to work out who the guy was. She doesn't often think about Batman at all, it reminds her too much of that night, and sure, he did save their lives, and she's grateful for that, but it's not a good memory. She knows that before that, and since then, Batman had helped Dad a lot of times, too, saving his life on a few occasions.
It's just that, no matter how grateful she is, Bat is not the person she likes to see in their living room. Bad memories, and all.
"I think he was just clumsy," she says absently, shrugging. "If he wanted to sabotage the date, he wouldn't go for subtle," she adds, louder enough for it to carry to the kitchen.
"Damn right," Dad says, walking into the room, handing her the milkshake Bruce brought. "I would have went with the shotgun."
"You would have shot Babs' date?" Jimmy asks, all too enthusiastic for Barbara's liking.
"In the leg," Dad offers, as if this was much better.
"See what I have to deal with?" she asks Bruce, gesturing widely at her father and brother, rolling her eyes, but she can't help a small smile escaping.