Pairing, Characters: Jim/Bruce (eventually), Montoya, Stephens and Bullock.
Worcount: 1713 for this part.
The office betting pool was predicting that Gordon was going to get back from his sick leave in three days after waking up, but he surprised all of them and waited for five. It still was a good two weeks less than the doctor ordered, but no one was deluding themselves that Gordon would listen, not even the good doc.
Montoya got in a good half an hour before her shift, and Gordon was already there, his office doors open and he himself going through mountains of late paperwork that piled up on his desk. She threw Stephens a questioning look and got a shrug in return, which means Jim had been there earlier than him, too. She shook her head and rolled her eyes and decided against saying anything, but couldn't help looking into the commissioner's office's direction every once in a while.
She wasn't alone in that, the entire precinct seemed to be glued to the sight of Gordon signing off on the reports, as if it was the most fascinating thing on the planet. People kept on knocking on the open doors, with some very important thing or other, adding to the pile of paperwork but leaving with a spring in their step.
Gordon realised after about three hours, and she was doing her share of staring at the moment, which granted her the full view of, first, confusion, and then the eyeroll and a barely contained long-suffering sigh, then mutter of something along the lines of 'get back to work'.
The good mood saw them through most of the week, even with the still futile search for Isley. They conspired and plotted to keep Gordon out of the field and away from the crime scenes, and had been mostly successful until Thursday, when he told Stephens that enough was enough and that he felt fine. They chose not to believe him, of course, and Montoya had been sent to make sure he didn't do anything stupid like, say, walking into a hostage situation while discarding his weapon as a sign of trust. Been known to happen.
That, however, got Montoya her second meeting with the Bat in a little over a week, which was unprecedented to say the least.
Gordon seemed to somehow know the moment when the Bat arrived, his head snapping up as they both were leaning against the alley's wall, his hand traveling to his neck, scratching absently as one does when he unconsciously feels someone eyes on him. It took her a long moment to make out the right shape in the shadows, and Gordon was already looking in that direction.
"Detective," Bat nodded at her, and she could swear he sounded slightly annoyed at her presence, and she really thought they were past that. Could make a girl feel wounded, honestly.
"Anything we missed?" Gordon asked, and it was Montoya's turn to look up sharply, she had no idea that the Bat was even on the scene, much less inside, but come to think of it, the entire thing went all too easily for there not to be any help from the vigilante. She wondered how many times she missed his presence before.
"There's a hidden compartment under the floor, you might want to look there," Batman said, the sentence ending a little too abruptly, the following silence just slightly uncomfortable. Once they got back to the station she was going to tell Stephens off for setting her with this. She could walk away now, but this would be even more awkward, so she just shifted a little against the wall, not looking at the Bat or at the Commish, watching the cracks in the opposite wall instead.
"Thank you," Gordon nodded, matter of fact, and for some reason, Batman smirked at that, as if it was some kind of an inside joke she didn't get. Which really boggled the mind, the mere thought of Batman and jokes in the same sentence.
"You should get back," Batman said finally, just a slight gesture of his head towards the entrance to the alley, and the squad cars still parked there. Gordon snorted, and Renee realised that it wasn't only about rejoining the rest of the task force, but a slight admonishment of Gordon even being in the field already. Which would get anyone she knew a glare, but now Gordon just sighed and shook his head, as if this was an all too old argument.
"I should," he nodded, and didn't move, waiting. She caught this only after a long moment when no one was saying anything, that the Bat was still there, and not gone into the night. Gordon himself seemed to be surprised as well, and she wasn't going to try and guess the emotions on Batman's face. More than before she considered casually walking away; it felt like she was trespassing on something here.
After a long while, the Bat nodded and moved to step away, and it was another moment before Gordon pushed himself away from the wall, looking to the side. "You know, it would be nice to have some way of contacting you. When I'm not dying, that is," he added as an afterthought, and as an apparently well aimed blow, because the Bat stopped and half-turned to face them. "Just a thought," Gordon shrugged.
"I'll think of something," Batman said before stepping into the shadows finally, and instantly disappearing. Montoya really didn't care for him doing that, but Gordon seemed to be amused.
"Come on, Montoya, you have a hidden compartment to discover," he told her, nodding, and she followed him back into the scene, biting her tongue before she said something uncalled for about direct lines and personal access.
The quiet and calm week ended on Friday, quite spectacularly, with the arrival of Bruce Wayne. That always seemed to disrupt the peace.
Bullock casted one look at the visitor and made himself scarce, muttering something about only being able to go through this once a week that Gordon didn't quite catch. Wayne however didn't even stop at his desk, making a beeline for the commissioner's office instead, much to everyone's amusement and Jim's dismay, because that usually meant an attempt to rope him into one more gala or some party or other, and frankly, Jim could use a break.
He pointedly closed the doors after inviting Wayne in, much to Montoya's theatrically disappointed groan, and turned to face his guest. "What can I do for you, Mr Wayne?" he asked, forcing himself to sound pleasant and not at all annoyed. He had that talk with the Mayor a few times too many.
Wayne didn't say anything for a moment, and that itself was strange, usually he launched himself into a long spiel the moment he arrived. Jim did a quick double-take at his visitor, something just seemed different, and at first he just assumed it was a new haircut or whatnot, something he wouldn't really notice but could tell that something changed, but he soon concluded that it was the first time he saw Bruce Wayne without any kind of wide grin plastered across his face, and it made a great difference.
"This," Wayne said slowly, as if coming to a decision, and with a poignancy that Jim didn't get, "is an easier way of communication."
He'd like to say that the understanding dawned, pieces of the puzzle falling into place, but in fact, he just stood there for a while, confused and just a little bit startled. "Excuse me?" he asked numbly, and Wayne nodded.
"Come on, Jim. Work it out."
It was the matter-of-fact and familiar tone that had Jim making a step forward even before his brain caught up. "Oh," he mutters, rather foolishly, his jaw still slack with surprise. "Certainly more convenient," he agreed, and shook his head, wondering if it was possible that the meds were still working and making him hallucinate.
Of course, the question remained, why would he hallucinate Bruce Wayne of all people implying that he was the Batman.
"I'm sorry," Bruce muttered, stepping forward, hand extended in comfort but not quite touching Jim's arm. "I know you didn't want that secret to keep."
He had never asked to know, that much was true, Jim thought, nodding. But he was glad to be trusted with this, to shoulder some of its weight. "Don't be," he said.
They were standing too close for the professional meeting they were supposed to be having, and probably closer than he ever was to Batman while none of them was injured or dying or doing his best to charge into a burning building. He might have been that close to Bruce Wayne before, as the billionaire had no regard for anyone's personal space, but it was different now.
"Why..." he started, and didn't finish, on account of still being rather shell shocked. He realised the question could be interpreted in at least a dozen ways, but apparently Bruce was as good at interpreting him as Batman was, and that particular phrasing was rather unfortunate but he'd have to deal with it.
"You were right," Wayne shrugged, a small smile tugging at his lips, not a Bruce Wayne smile at all. "Someone should know."
It wasn't exactly what he meant at the time, but he wasn't going to argue, not now. Not with Bruce looking at him as if he had all the answers to yet unspoken questions, his palm on Jim's arm warm even through the layers of clothing.
"Finally," he muttered pointedly, attempting a smug smile at being proved right, but he didn't quite manage, he could see that in Bruce's face, in Bruce's answering smile, open and tender. There were few ways to react to that, and Jim chose the only one that felt right and stepped forward, lips finding Bruce's.
"That's one of the ways to improve communication," Bruce agreed against his skin, smiling widely, his breath warm and shallow. "Should have thought of that."