Pairing: Jim/Bruce, eventually.
Rating: PG-13 for now.
Word count: 1075.
Visiting the MCU's rooftop wasn't the smartest decision Bruce could have made, Alfred kept telling him that the hunt for the Batman was still on, so could he please be a little more careful, but it wasn't everyday that Jim Gordon returned to the city. Bruce wasn't prone to sentimentality, but it felt familiar and comfortable, as if everything was just as it used to be.
Of course, as even the absence of the signlight attested, a lot has changed.
The last time he had stood here was over two years ago, during the Joker madness. After that, the few times he had seen Gordon had been in alleyways and, once, on the man's porch, an unfortunate event that caused Barbara Gordon to walk upstairs and close the doors to the bathroom with shaking hands. There were things that shouldn't follow Jim home, she must have been thinking; the darkness of the job and the disfigured maniacs, and, most of all, the Batman.
Her decision to leave the city was not sudden or abrupt and not at all unexpected, Jim's choice to follow was a little more surprising. Bruce didn't know what exactly prompted the decision, or even when it was made; he knew Jim wanted to talk to him, but at first there was the reluctance to appear and be noticed and draw any attention to Jim's continued cooperation with him, and then... And then there were boxes packed at Jim's house, and a resignation letter on the Mayor's desk, and meeting with Jim seemed to be a bad idea, because he just might cave in and ask the man to stay.
“Batman doesn’t have that many allies,” Alfred had remarked after Bruce had been trying to hide his foul mood for a day or so. “And Bruce Wayne doesn’t have many friends. Which he could try and change. May I suggest online dating, sir?” he added, mostly designed to earn a snort or a glare and take Bruce’s mind off Gordon leaving.
Bruce wasn’t prone to sentimentality, no, but Jim was a link to his past in a similar but not the same way as Rachel had been. Gordon used to be one of the very few honest cops in the city, but even then he wasn’t the only one; Bruce chose him not for the insistence on refusing to take bribes, but because he remembered the man who put his father’s coat around him, long time ago.
He had made an excellent choice in this as it turned out; Gordon had stood by the man he hadn’t even known through thick and thin, even though it wasn’t conscious planning on Bruce’s part, but gut instinct of a kid he used to be.
How much difference did having Gordon on his side made was hammered home few months ago, during Nygma’s turn to terrorize the city with unclear threatening notes and lots of explosives. Batman had arrived on the scene before the police, but still a few minutes too late to prevent the explosion.
He had rushed in to get people out, and had the bad luck of almost having his leg crushed under a steel bar falling from the ceiling, and then an even worse luck of detective Harvey Bullock stumbling onto him in the back alley. Much to his embarrassment, Bruce hadn’t noticed him until he had heard the cold click of the gun safety lock.
“Stay right where you are, no sudden movements and no tricks,” Bullock muttered, tension and just a hint of smugness in his voice, and Bruce froze, evaluating the possible ways out of this.
“Put down your gun, Bullock,” someone said calmly, and Bruce chanced a look over his shoulder to see Stephens standing in the alley’s entrance. “And help us with securing the site.”
“It’s the Bat,” Bullock muttered harshly, and Stephens rolled his eyes, sighing heavily.
“I can see that. It’s fine,” he added, after Bullock hadn’t moved, the hold on his gun not wavering. “Jim said he’s still on our side.”
“Jim’s not here,” Bullock said, but he lowered his piece, relaxing just slightly, because here or not, Gordon’s word was still enough. He eyed Batman suspiciously, as Bruce pulled himself up and moved to step into the shadows, hesitating.
“Thank you,” he said quietly, words aimed somewhere between Bullock and Stephens, and acknowledged only by the latter, with a slightest nod.
“You don’t have to thank me,” Stephens said, and the words were familiar enough to be almost painful. “Just prove him right,” he added, and the gravity of the words was softened by the tired and resigned tone, as he turned to walk away, gesturing impatiently at Bullock, who scowled once more at the Bat for a good measure.
That had been about seven months ago, and the very night when Bruce broke the promise to himself and checked up on Jim, infiltrated the Philadelphia PD’s systems and helped himself to the information he didn’t have any right to and couldn’t justify with anything but curiosity, and maybe the need to make sure everything was fine, just as Jim had taken steps to give Batman the best chances, just in case.
There wasn’t anything extraordinary about the files, and that in itself was strange; Jim had a tendency to care too much and do even more, and turning into someone who left the office once his shift ended was unexpected and perplexing. And it might have been just him working on his marriage, but somehow Bruce didn’t think so, this was an indicator of something else, of Philadelphia not being Gotham, not the city Jim loved almost as much as Bruce did.
It wasn’t that much of a surprise then, when, just a few weeks ago, after he gave Stephens the docks surveillance tapes, the detective paused for a longer moment before saying “In case you’d be interested, Jim Gordon is taking over the commissioner’s desk again. The Mayor had just informed us today.”
He didn’t move, didn’t say anything, and Stephens looked around, squinting his eyes into the shadows that hid Bruce, and shook his head, snorting. “Typical,” he muttered, walking away, leaving Bruce behind.
It wasn’t that much of a surprise, but it still felt visceral and sudden, something tightening in his chest, preventing him from breathing for a brief moment.
He should have been worried and concerned, and look for deeper reasons, but mostly, he was just content.