Pairing: Jim/Bruce, eventually.
Rating: PG-13 for now.
Word count: 1347.
There was hell, and it was full of paperwork, Jim concluded after two hours spent on the quarterly financial reports. His previous stint at the job had been blissfully free of that, he’d quit before he got to any serious paperwork, and now he wished he had stayed that way.
He called Barbara and told her that much and she laughed freely at him. It was a sure sign of how far they’ve gone in the last two years, how much pain between them had healed, but also how completely irreversible the divorce was. She laughed and teased him, and didn’t grow silent even for a moment, and didn’t say he might have stayed, or that he could come back still.
“No crime happening that you can rush in to solve?” she asked, just slightly mocking, and he felt both guilty and exasperated.
“No such luck,” he said dryly, already considering what kind of crime would warrant the commissioner’s attention.
In the end, after actually finishing up with the reports two days later, he asked Stephens what his most pressing cases were, and patiently waited through the suspicious silence.
“You must be bored out of your skull,” Gerry concluded finally, and sent over all the files.
“No one had even tried to kill me yet,” Jim deadpanned. Not for the lack of death threats, of course, he got a pile of those delivered to his desk on his first day back, but in Gotham that was just proof that he was doing his job, even if he had just started. It was quite flattering, actually, that the criminal element remembered him that fondly and gathered up such a warm welcome.
“I feel your pain,” Stephens said gravely before suggesting they met for a couple of beers after work, with the rest of the MCU bunch, but it really hadn’t been Jim’s day, and he had to decline mournfully, as Garcia had already requested his presence at a charity event. Jim had no idea what charity, but it didn’t matter, it was only an excuse to have the press write about Gordon’s return and maybe score a few points in the polls for the Mayor.
He might have preferred the paperwork, after all.
He had avoided the galas the last time as well, right after Dent’s death no one was eager to throw them, and in Philadelphia he had been too low on the foodchain to be obligated to attend. Barbara had been slightly disappointed about this one, and he had to don the tux a few times and take her to the parties anyway, but at least no one had paraded him in front of a hundred of flash cameras.
“Better you than me,” Stephens said, all too cheerfully, and added that they would choose a pub with a tv and watch the Gotham Tonight report from the event, and mock him mercilessly.
“I’ll be sure to tell Garcia that in event of my assassination, you’d be a perfect replacement,” Jim warned him and disconnected.
The party was much like he expected it to be, only a lot worse, and they didn’t serve any decent kind of alcohol to ease his pain, just the champagne, dry and sparkly.
“It might taste like one, but it isn’t actually poison, commissioner,” the older, distinguished man serving the drinks told him, voice even dryer than the champagne, if that was possible.
“I didn’t think…” he started, but the man was already gone, smirking. Score one for him, zero for Gordon, and it didn’t look as if the evening might improve, since Garcia was dragging him from one group of incredibly boring people to another. The polls must have been looking really bad, judging by the pained grimace of a smile he was sporting while introducing Jim to some people and reminding him to others.
Right now, ‘others’ included judge Ortiz, her husband, councilman Besant, Bruce Wayne, and two girls apparently surgically attached to Wayne’s arms, whose names Garcia didn’t seem to know, and apparently Wayne didn’t seem to recall either.
“Bruce, you remember James Gordon, don’t you?” Garcia asked, grin/grimace just slightly less forced, voice cheerful as if speaking to a child. “I’ve finally managed to talk him into coming back and taking over the force,” he added as an aside, glancing quickly at Besant, in some kind of reference to a previous argument, Jim was sure. He didn’t make a point of correcting the matter and saying that he wasn’t really persuaded into coming back, and definitely not by Garcia. He wasn’t good at playing politics, but he was far from being an idiot.
Wayne just frowned, as if thinking hard over something. “Coming back?” he asked finally, looking at Jim. “Were you gone, Gordon?”
Jim managed to keep a straight face and a pleasant smile, which couldn’t be said about judge Ortiz, who snorted into her glass and covered it with a cough, and Garcia, whose grin slowly faded away while the grimace still remained fixed on his face, a surreal process that was just made more creepy by the everlasting kohl he kept on using.
“Just for two years,” Jim said, shrugging. “I’m sure lots of people didn’t notice,” he added pleasantly, earning a glare from Garcia that told him that his mocking didn’t go unnoticed and he was going to hear about it later.
Wayne, however, just smiled wider and nodded. “Don’t you hate it when you go away and everyone makes such a fuss? Some time ago, I went off to see Europe, and believe it or not, they had me declared dead just after a few years. Next time, I just won’t bribe the paparazzi to keep the photos to themselves and everyone will know where I am,” he told one of the girls on his arm, the redheaded one, and she giggled obligingly.
“That’s one way to go about it,” Jim agreed seriously, getting a very quick, blink and you miss it, curious look from Wayne, as if he had expected a different response. “I’ll make sure note of this for later,” he added pleasantly, without a hint of sarcasm, just to make sure he hadn’t been mistaken about the reaction, and there it was again, a flicker of something in Wayne’s face. He filed the puzzle for later, as his cellphone perked up, showing Stephens’ caller id. “Excuse me,” he said and stepped aside, flicking the phone open with his thumb. “Yes?”
“Just promise you won’t ever put me up for promotion,” Stephens said dryly.
“I’ll consider it. What do you have?”
“The Narrows’ serial case, we had another body turn up. Montoya is on her way over if you want to meet her. The press is obsessed with the story, Garcia will be happy with you handling it personally, I’m sure,” he added, and Gordon felt brief pang of guilt at actually finding a good side to a murder.
“Tell Montoya I’ll be there in a few,” he said and disconnected, looking up to see Wayne’s gaze fixed on him with just a bit too much intensity than he associated with the billionaire. “I’m terribly sorry, but duty calls,” he said, trying to sound disappointed and probably failing miserably. “The Narrows’ case,” he added for Garcia benefit, and got a curt nod in return, proving Stephens right.
He stepped away with customary pleasantries to the rest of the group, and moved to walk out, already easing off the bow-tie. He had an uneasy feeling of someone watching him as he moved towards the elevator, but when he glanced back, Garcia was deep in conversation with judge Ortiz, Besant wandered off, and Bruce Wayne was preoccupied with maneuvering both of his companions out of the room.
Maybe the death threats were making him a bit paranoid, after all.