Pairing, Characters: Jim/Bruce (eventually), Montoya, Stephens and Bullock.
Rating: PG for now, will go higher.
Worcount: 1319 for this part
Bruce watched Stephens, Bullock and Montoya get back into the precinct, Bullock the last one in, casting a suspicious glance over his shoulder, as if daring Batman to show himself if he still was there in the shadows. Harvey seemed most surprised at Batman actually showing up, and even Bruce could admit that coming to a meeting on top of the police building while the hunt was still on was quite foolish, but he simply couldn't not.
Jim Gordon, fighting for his life in the hospital, there was no way Bruce wasn't going to do everything he could. Hopefully, stubborn as he was, Gordon would pull through.
The stubbornness had been more of a surprise that it should have been, given everything. It started about three weeks into the whole charade. Bruce was perfectly aware that it didn't sit well with Gordon, the man said as much at the very beginning, but had been too exhausted and terrified to protest, and then it was too late, the great lie had been told and all the small lies followed.
It didn't stop Gordon from being extremely difficult about it.
Just three weeks after Dent's funeral, he got Stephens in on the secret. Then Bullock, and then Montoya. Every damn time, Bruce had a choice, to back off, to not arrive for the meeting, to step back into the shadows. Every damn time he didn't.
"They should know," Jim argued, days before. "Someone should know, someone who isn't me. I can't be the city's only connection to you," he added quietly, not looking up, and Bruce understood what he wasn't saying. I can't be your only connection to the city.
Bruce avoided his gaze, which was easy under the mask, and yet really difficult. Jim seemed to interpret the silence as something different than it was, his face betraying the worry.
"You don't trust them?" he asked, lines on his forehead deepening. He sounded like he desperately wanted Batman to tell him otherwise, to assure him that this time he hadn't made any mistakes, that this time he could believe in his own people.
But what hit Bruce the most was how much Jim seemed to trust Batman. Gordon had known Stephens for well over ten years, Bullock for almost as long, he handpicked Montoya for the team, they were his best people. And yet he was willing to take the word of a masked vigilante, depend on his opinion completely if Batman expressed any distrust. It hurt almost as much as it helped.
"Only them," he said, giving in. "No one else."
He wasn't convinced to the logic of the idea, but disappointing Jim wasn't something he wanted to do if he could help it; he already disappointed too many of the people he cared about. And he was forced to admit that he did care about Jim Gordon on the day of his presumed death and in the dark hours of the night that followed, before he decided to go to that press conference and turn himself in.
It was almost funny, the way things went, funny if you had an overdeveloped sense of irony. He really should have seen that coming. But of course his experience in any sort of relationships was, well, practically nonexistent, so he had missed all the warning signs and was now utterly lost and just a tad confused, mostly at how easy it was to...
The detectives were gone for a good few minutes now, and yet he still hadn't moved, still watching the rooftop. It had been a long while since the last time he appeared there, when he thought about it he was almost sure the last time it was Harvey Dent who turned on the light, not Gordon. It bothered Bruce more than it should, and it shouldn't bother him at all.
The smart thing to do was to get back to the cave and wait for Lucius to come up with the antidote, if anyone could manufacture it, it was Fox. Montoya and the rest counted on exactly that, well, not on Lucius, but on Batman's associates, the same ones who provided the antidote for the fear toxin.
Of course, as history showed, the smart thing was very rarely what Bruce Wayne did.
Via the scenic route - mostly rooftops - it took mere seven minutes to get to the hospital. Another two were spent outside the window, waiting for the nurse to leave the room. Sneaking through the windows maybe isn't the most dignified thing to do, but he had done it before, including Gordon's office. And he used to be better at it too, or maybe Gordon had gotten more skilled at telling when he appeared, because he shifted on his bed restlessly, fortunately not disconnecting any of the machinery he's been hooked up to.
The light from the doorway was dimmed, shifting shadow indicating someone waiting outside. Security detail, probably Stephens' doing. Remarking that it was too little, too late would be uncharitable, especially given Gordon's thoughts on having any kind of security assigned to him, but Bruce couldn't help the slightest resentment. Ivy's plans had been almost too transparent, they should have been able to prevent this. He should have been able to prevent this.
Gordon moved again, muttering something under his breath. The fever wasn't lessening, from the reports he got it was apparent that the only thing the doctors could do was to make it bearable for the time being.
Bruce stepped forward quietly, trying not to wake up Jim, or alert the guard outside. Jim's breathing was harsh and shallow, either from the drug or the dream he was having, bordering just on the side of a nightmare, judging from the way he was trying to turn, kept in place by the security restraints. No one was taking any chances, they had three victims of the poison already in the morgue, and one of them had simply threw himself out of the window in the drug induced haze.
He reached out with his gloveless hand, fingers resting gently on Jim's arm. "It's okay," he muttered, without bothering to put on the rasp. "It's going to be okay." It didn't sound any more convincing out loud than it had in his head, but he felt minutely better for saying it.
Jim's breathing calmed a little, as if the touch or the reassurance served to keep him anchored in his dream, his fists unclenched slowly, some of the tension easing out. Bruce watched, spellbound, his own pulse speeding rapidly.
He had never really asked for a proof of trust from Gordon, even though he had gotten quite a few, but this seemed like an ultimate admission, unconscious and unguarded. He wished he could do more, but this wasn't the time, and it definitely wasn't the place, there were other ways in which he could help.
The guard outside shifted, probably standing up, and Bruce moved away, slipping into the shadows. The door opened, letting in the light from the hallway and the distant sounds of a hospital at night.
"You okay there, Commish?" the guard asked, in the light tones of someone not expecting an answer. He stepped closer, checking on Gordon, giving the room a quick assessing look. His stance hinted at wariness and protectiveness, it was the same one Montoya sported on the roof, the same one all the young detectives and officers took around Gordon these days. The job brought on the death threats without fail, but this was less about protecting the commissioner and more about the blatant hero worship Jim seemed to obliviously inspire.
And it really shouldn't annoy Bruce as much as it did.