Sometimes Bruce thinks that all the major crises in his life could be measured on a scale of how Alfred reacts to them. It's strange, but not as strange as some other things in his life.
If Alfred seems amused, there's nothing to worry about. If he's annoyed, Bruce should probably consider his actions. If he is offering comfort, this means Bruce is well and truly fucked. When he's somewhere between the three, as he seems to be at the moment, Bruce is confused and slightly worried. Mostly confused.
"Why don't you just say what you want to say?" he asks, after three days of the baffling treatment, but all he gets is half a shrug and more than a half of a smirk.
"I wouldn't presume to know what you mean, Master Bruce," Alfred says, and that's that, because trying to get anything out of Alfred that he doesn't want to tell is an exercise in futility. "The annual GCPD charity event is approaching, will you be attending, sir?" he asks, and the non sequitur manages to speak volumes, seemingly without Alfred even trying.
"I don't know yet," he shrugs and looks away. "I don't think so."
"Very well, sir," Alfred says, and it's pointed, a hint of annoyance in his voice, and Bruce throws him a look.
"It's a busy time, Alfred. And Batman comes before Bruce Wayne."
It would probably be easier to get Alfred to buy his bullshit it he actually believed in it. This has nothing to do with Batman and Bruce Wayne, and everything to do with Bruce not wanting to face Jim just yet. Or, quite possibly, ever, however unlikely this was.
Thankfully, it hadn't affected the more, well, business side of things; Batman could see the commissioner, no problem. It was Bruce who had trouble even thinking of Jim. Sometimes the double identity shtick did come in handy. Rachel had once told him, that it was Bruce Wayne who was a mask, but she was only half right. The mask, the voice, and the symbol did help in hiding what he didn't want to show. Especially when he wasn't yet entirely sure what it was that threatened to spill out.
He ends up going to the charity event, mostly because Alfred raises his eyebrows knowingly every time he announces that he doesn't think he would go. Which might be just what the meddling bastard wanted, of course. Doing things to spite Alfred is always really unproductive, but somehow, Bruce doesn't seem to learn his lessons in time.
But he's trying, and that's why part of his plans for the evening includes not fucking anyone, especially not in a public restroom, and not obsessing over Jim Gordon. He figures two out of three would be nice.
He manages to keep his promise to himself for the first three minutes of the party, which is the amount of time that passes until he actually sees Jim. When their eyes meet, Jim is talking to one of the assistant DAs, and he just nods at Bruce politely, one acquaintance to another, and Bruce snatches a champagne glass from the nearest table, to have something to tighten his fingers around, even if he doesn't intend to drink it.
He figures it would take roughly an hour of small talk before he can excuse himself and make up a story of some sorts. He hadn't tried the early international flight excuse in a few months, so that might do. The most important part, the thing he had been invited for, is already over and done with, he had written the check already, and no one probably expects him to stay long. They're probably surprised he actually showed up roughly on time as it is.
"Mr Wayne," Jim says to his left, every inch the commissioner hosting the GCPD event, polite and smiling. It's just a tad unnerving, that he seems more comfortable at a damn party than Bruce is. "It's an honour to have you here," he adds, and probably doesn't mean it, but the delivery is smooth and probably practiced over and over with every single guest.
Bruce smiles. If there's one thing he knows how to do, is putting up a good show. "Commissioner," he says, shaking Jim's hand, and if his thumb brushes ever so lightly against Jim's tense skin, well, what of it? "Thanks for the invitation. I have just been saying the other day, there's never enough of partying."
"I'm sure you're trying your best to change that, Mr Wayne."
The jab has a perfect delivery, and really, sometimes Bruce isn't sure whether he hates or... likes Jim more. And great, he is obsessing and second guessing the phrasing in his own head. Still, two out of three isn't that bad.
"I like to think of it as my calling in life," he agrees with panache, and there it is, a quick gleam in Jim's eyes, a brief twitch in the corner of his mouth, like he's holding back a smile. And this exactly is why attending the party was a bad idea.
"Well, I'll leave you to it, Mr Wayne. I'm told that I am to mingle and welcome all the guests."
He's gone with that, and Bruce congratulates himself on not breaking any more of his rules, even though he did entertain a brief thought of dragging Jim to the hallway and from there, possibly to the elevator. It would at least keep them out of the bathroom. One out of three would be acceptable.
He carries out the required small talk for about half an hour, dances with Mrs Garcia because he always does, and with Detective Montoya, because she asks and because she's the safest choice in the room; he likes her too much to try anything and is pretty sure she'd break his arm if he did.
When he figures out he had fulfilled most of his duties and could very well go home, Gordon is nowhere to be seen. It's not as disappointing as it could be, because somehow, Bruce has a pretty good idea of where he might be found. It's almost like having your own song, only much more fucked up.
He catches Jim's eye in the restroom's mirror the moment he enters, and steps in, leaning against the wall by the sinks. None of them makes a crack about the situation, about meeting like this again, and how they should stop.
"I was just going to leave," Bruce says after a moment, and Jim shrugs, indicating the doors with only the slight movement of his head. And this, exactly this, is the choice he has. Or the choice he would have, if it wasn't too much of a train wreck and if he wasn't going too fast already, impossible to stop since a long while ago.
Bruce doesn't move.
"If you tell me you've sent your car away, I'm just going to call you a taxi," Jim warns, smiling slightly. "I have to stay on and give a speech," he adds, in a tone one would rather use to refer to one's own execution.
"You sound incredibly excited about that. Maybe I should stay and listen, this is bound to be good."
"Fuck you, Wayne," Jim says pleasantly, and Bruce snorts. He wonders briefly, if he should answer to that, and if he should offer the first response he thought of.
The door to the bathroom opens, and one of the detectives comes in, startling at the sight of the commissioner and Bruce Wayne. After a brief nod, he walks into one of the stalls, and there's absolutely no sound, nothing at all, and then water flushing, and the poor man coming out, flustered, making a beeline for one of the sinks, washing his hands quickly and scattering.
"Now that was priceless," Bruce says, shaking his head. Also, probably the universe's way of telling him why the bathrooms are a bad idea for this.
"That would be one word for it."
Bruce nods, and the silence falls for another moment. In a short while, Jim will have to get back to the crowded room, and while they had made progress, or whatever passed for progress from where Bruce was standing, it's not exactly what he came here for. And now he knows what he had come here for, and he wonders why he hadn't thought of this sooner.
"Why are you here, Jim?" and he doesn't specify that he doesn't mean here, now, the party, the bathroom.
Jim smiles, as if he waited for that question.
"I want to," he says simply.
Pretending to misunderstand might be low, but Bruce wouldn't mind a direct confirmation. Hell, at this point, capital letters would be good.
"Yeah, I've figured that bathrooms were a rather big turn on for you," he drawls, and wonders briefly if Jim would rolls his eyes, or glare. Being a douchebag is an art he had perfected over time.
"You know, sometimes I wonder if you really aren't as much of an idiot as you pretend to be," Jim tells him, just a hint of exasperation under the smile. He glances at his watch. "Oh well, better to get the speech over and done with. You know where to find me," he adds before passing Bruce on his way out, their hands brushing all too briefly, almost as if by accident, even though Bruce had moved his hand to cause this and he knows that so did Jim.
Bruce thinks he might just as well stay a while longer and listen to the speech, Jim's reluctance to give it should make it quite interesting.