Wordcount: 6,676 for this part.
It took Jim three seconds to find his pants, actually, because Alfred had them neatly folded on the chair, along with Jim’s shirt, jacket, and coat. All of the things seemed to have been ironed, and not in the way Jim usually did it, which was badly, but actually smooth and unwrinkled. Alfred must have restrained himself from dry-cleaning them, but Jim supposed it was a long battle.
And it was a very good thing he actually started to dress, because when Bruce rushed back in, it was in a hurry and a cloud of grim determination.
“Rachel is heading for Arkham.” He tossed a small box onto the table, Rachel’s birthday gift, no doubt. “There’s something wrong happening in the Narrows, and she’s putting herself right in the middle of it,” he muttered with frustration.
“You didn’t think of stopping her?” Jim paused in buttoning up his shirt to look up.
“You ever tried stopping Rachel from doing what she thinks she has to do?”
Not really, but he could probably relate, what with his current desire to stop someone young and stubborn from doing something really stupid. He didn’t really see the point in trying, though, it would lose them valuable time and lead absolutely nowhere.
“You’re not going alone.”
Bruce shook his head. “It’s nothing dangerous, Jim, I just need to make sure she’d be safe. What you could do is get back to the precinct, there’s something going on with the drugs run by Falcone, I need to know what.”
“I can go through the latest cases we had him connected to,” Jim agreed. It was a little surprising to see Bruce like this, even after he had seen the effect of his work, as it was, highlighted. It was more than growing up and more than being competent; those seven absent years turned him into someone deadly and serious and Jim wasn’t sure it was entirely good thing.
Still, it could be just what Gotham needed, and if there was something else that Jim cared about as much as he did about Bruce, it was the city.
“Thank you,” Bruce leaned in, forehead touching Jim’s, albeit briefly, a single still moment before he was gone.
Jim shook his head at Alfred, who muttered something quite unkind about people rushing out and installing a revolving door someday, then yelled after Jim to be careful. Jim wasn’t sure why, all he was going to do was go and look through the casefiles in his office.
So of course he never made it there, the call for all units to report to Arkham catching him just as he was entering the city’s centre. Nothing dangerous, Bruce said. Of course he did.
There were already some uniforms on the scene, and Flass. Since Flass was always only looking out for number one, it seemed that Bruce had been right and there was a major connection between Falcone’s drug dealings and Arkham.
“SWAT’s on its way,” Flass said pointedly, but Jim didn’t care, drawing his piece and rushing in. Predictably, no one else followed, at least not until the SWAT actually arrived and started to secure the place.
Which was exactly the moment when Bruce scared about ten years out of his life by literary sweeping him off his feet and dragging him upwards, five stories in three seconds.
“Let’s not do that again,” Jim said, trying to catch his breath, before he noticed Rachel. “What’s happened to her?”
“Crane poisoned her, the same thing I was dosed with. Lucius should have sent the antidote by now, I need to take her back to the Manor. Take her downstairs and meet me in the alley on the Narrow’s side,” he said, pressing something on the sole of his shoe. Jim raised his eyebrows, but there was no time for questions right now.
“Come on, Rachel,” he muttered, picking her up.
“Crane’s been smuggling the toxin hidden in Falcone’s drugs and then dumping it in the water supply,” Bruce said as they stood up, Rachel listless in Jim’s arms. “He’s been working for someone…” he paused and shook his head. “Just get her out, meet me there.”
The strange sound that Jim tried to drown for the last few minutes was getting closer and louder. “What is that?”
Bruce shrugged. “Backup.”
Jim could see that; literally hundreds of bats flying inside and going absolutely insane, causing chaos. Jim walked through it with difficulty, air dark with wings and thick with terrified sounds of the creatures and people alike. Rachel was burning up, starting to talk nonsense, clinging to Jim desperately. It was just like Bruce, but she was deteriorating much quicker. Higher dose, Jim supposed.
“She’s getting worse,” he yelled to Bruce once they met outside.
“The tumbler,” Bruce pointed, taking Rachel off Jim’s arms and all but pushing Jim inside the car before he laid Rachel in gently and she once more held on to Jim for some comfort in her nightmares.
“I should be…” Jim started to protest, but Bruce shook his head.
“We don’t have time, you’ll need to be inoculated, too, before all the hell breaks loose, and that’s going to be very soon.”
Jim bit back the rest of the argument and called Stephens instead, telling him to keep Jim posted on whatever Crane’s confession would be.
“Did you ever even get your driver’s license?” he asked Bruce after the thirst minute of the drive and two squad cars completely destroyed. “They don’t come cheap.”
“I’ll send the city a check,” Bruce muttered and god, they were actually driving on rooftops.
Rachel screamed, everything happening around her just adding to whatever delusions the hallucinogen caused and Jim pulled her closer.
“Rachel, it’s me. Everything is going to be fine.”
“Jim?” she asked, confused, looking around with wide eyes, her pupils dilated and making her eyes almost black and terrifying.
“Yes, just stay calm. It’s okay, you hear me?”
Bruce threw him a quick glance. “That always helped me,” he said, his voice rough and Jim didn’t quite know what to say.
“Keep your eyes on the road,” he said instead. “Or, on whatever you’re currently using as the road.”
Rachel was fading quickly, her body going slack in Jim’s arms, her mutterings coming to a silent close. “Rachel,” he pleaded as Bruce stepped on the gas, and they all but crashed into the cave. Bruce was gone and back in a second, a needle pressing into Rachel’s skin.
“That’s for you,” he handed Jim a vial, his eyes fixed on Rachel. “She can’t be…”
“She’ll be fine,” Jim assured him, even though he wasn’t as convinced himself. He picked her up again and carried her to the nearest flat surface; the table at the centre of the working area of the cave. “We should get her upstairs, she should rest in an actual bed. No offence, but your interior decorating isn’t the best,” he said, gesturing around the cave.
“No time. Alfred will drive her home, I need to put an appearance at the damn party. Fox should be there, he’ll need to start manufacturing the antidote. I’ll give you…” he stopped as Jim’s phone rung.
“Gordon,” he muttered into the phone and listened as Stephens gave his professional opinion, which was that Crane was mad as a hatter. But there was something else.
“The entire water supply is poisoned. There’s no effect for it has to be inhaled, but…”
“Someone is planning something,” Bruce nodded. “I’ll go and see Fox. You get there and see what’s going on. Rachel…”
She was waking up. “Jim?” she asked, trying to rise, and Bruce moved to help her. “Crane is…”
“I know,” he said calmly. “We have him.”
“What are you doing with…” she started, glancing at Bruce, before she lost consciousness again, this time helped by an injection from Bruce.
“You should just tell her,” Jim said pointedly. “If you think she ever was pissed at you before, once you hide this from her…”
“She’d be safer not knowing.”
Jim nodded. “Would you tell me, if I didn’t figure it out?”
“I don’t know.” It wasn’t exactly what Jim wanted to hear, but it sounded like the truth, and he was grateful for that much. “You should get going,” Bruce added, and pointed at the vial Jim was still holding. “Take it now,” he ordered, then picked up another one. “The other is for mass production. Time is of the essence.”
Jim stepped in closer, laying his hand on the part of Bruce’s face that was visible from under the mask. “There’s a moment for this,” he said and helped Bruce ease the cowl off, before kissing him. It wasn’t tentative, like before, they didn’t have time for gentleness, really, but he needed this feeling, this certainty that Bruce was there and that this had happened earlier in the day. In the madness, he needed to remember this.
By the time he got back to the Narrows, it was more than madness. The hell might not have broken loose, but it sure looked like it, the Arkham had been emptied and the streets were full of madmen and killers.
“Get them to raise the bridges,” he told Flass. “We don’t want any of them getting off the island.”
He wondered why he even expected for his advice to be heeded; it had never happened before. He expected things to go worse and fast, but everything was going worse than he thought it would. They couldn’t control the crowd, they couldn’t get the criminals off the street; they were outnumbered and the help just wasn’t coming fast enough.
There had been nights in the past, when he thought that most of his work was futile, when the gun and the badge weren’t a comfort they should have been, but this was even worse; this was as if the gateway to hell opened up in the Narrows.
And then there was Rachel in the middle of it. “What are you doing here?”
“Jim, what’s going on? I woke up in my apartment, did you get me there? Is Crane…”
Of course she came here. Because Bruce couldn’t let her sleep off the drug in the mansion, he had to get her home, unconscious, so she would get up and make her way right into the chaos.
“Crane was arrested, he went as mad as any of his patients,” Jim shook his head. “It probably was the hallucinogen anyway. Someone let everyone out from Arkham, it’s not safe for you here. We need to get you out.”
“Jim,” she said stubbornly, digging her heels in both literally and metaphorically. “What’s going on? You know the bat, somehow, and…”
He raised his hand to stop her. “Rachel, later, I promise,” he said, hand on her shoulder, gently guiding her towards a patrolman. “We need to get you off the island before they raise the bridges, Rachel, please.”
For once, she did listen to him. It wasn’t bound to last long, but at least she was heading for safety. He was hoping she made it out before the fog had risen, before everyone went crazy and everything went to hell, even more so than before.
He could see the effects of the drug around him, as Flass pointed his gun on some kids. And Jim would lie if he said that knocking Flass out didn’t feel fantastic. But taking Flass out didn’t make a difference, everyone was seeing monsters, and on the island filled with criminals and armed cops…
Loeb was over the comms, demanding answer, but the conversation was greatly unhelpful; all the reinforcements they had were already on the island, already under the drug’s unfluence. If Jim was the only one sane and capable on the entire island, things were going to go to shit very soon. Unless Bruce had figured out how to administer the antidote to the whole area.
And the thing was; Jim believed that he could and would. All he wished for was for Bruce to hurry the fuck up. The party couldn’t have been that interesting to keep him there after he talked to Fox.
“Gordon,” Loeb told him with at least some degree of frustration Jim could relate to, “there’s no one left to send there.”
Which was the exact moment when Jim had to revise his opinion on Bruce’s timing, which turned out to be spectacular; the Tumbler landing few meters away from Jim.
“It’s worse than we thought,” he told Bruce, who nodded.
“It usually is.” The cowl obscured the large part of his face, but Jim knew him well enough to tell that something was wrong, even beyond the obvious. Something has happened. But it wasn’t time nor place. “They want to distribute the drug across the city, have Gotham tear itself apart in panic. They want to use the train, Jim, have it take the machine to the main station under the Wayne tower.”
“What do you need me to do?” Jim asked matter-of-factly. It sounded as if Bruce did have a plan.
“Can you drive stick?” he asked, raising what seemed to be the keys to the Tumbler, still serious, but there was something in the line of his mouth that told Jim the words weren’t chosen randomly.
“Really, Bruce? Really?” he asked, shaking his head, reaching for the keys. Bruce closed his gloved hand around Jim’s as he handed them.
It took him a moment to work out the Tumbler’s control, and it had a little to do with the stick. He should have paid more attention while Bruce drove it before, but he had been a tad occupied, worrying about Rachel and being slightly concerned for his own life as they drove over damn rooftops.
“Lower the bridge,” he told Loeb over the comm., and rolled his eyes at himself. If he wasn’t getting fired after this before, he surely was going to be fired now. Ordering the commissioner around was bound to go down so well.
Still, there was still a chance he was going to kill himself driving this thing, so maybe he shouldn’t worry about demotion just yet.
But then again, there was something exhilarating about driving the Tumbler, too, if one didn’t think too much about the circumstances and the pressing need for hurrying up. And all the destruction that followed; he couldn’t exactly take time for complicated maneuvering and choosing the safest route.
Stop the train from getting to the Wayne Tower, easier said than done if all you had at your disposal was a car… but then again, Tumbler wasn’t just a car; cars didn’t have built-in weaponry. Jim pressed the trigger and the bridge’s pillar tumbled down, and the train was soon to follow.
The silence afterwards, the moment when the adrenaline runs out, felt surreal. The fog was still filling the air, and the Narrows were quite probably still filled with chaos, but inside the Tumbler and in Jim’s head, it was quiet, just his heartbeat slowing down, filling the silence.
He crawled out of the car just to see the familiar shape of the bat circle above. He raised his hand, waving a little bit stupidly, but he was beginning to feel quite giddy. Maybe the insanity was catching somehow beyond the gas.
Bruce landed and nodded at him.
“You can actually fly now?” Jim asked, shaking his head. “How the hell does that one work?”
“I’ll show you later,” Bruce offered, hand resting on Jim’s shoulder, the briefest contact that would have to do for now. “We’ll have to get the antidote distributed in the Narrows. I’ll have Fox send all that had been manufactured this far…” he trailed off, sighing.
There was a lot to do, and very little of it was going to be pleasant. Still, it was a moment of victory, however marred by the aftermath. “Did you figure out who Crane was working for?”
There was no mistaking the shadow across Bruce’s face now, his eyes closed briefly as he sighed. “Yes.” He looked away. “I need to get back and get Rachel. When you can…”
“I’ll get to the Manor,” Jim agreed quickly, which apparently was a wrong thing to say.
“Manor burned down.”
Well, that was unexpected. “How…?”
“You know how much I like wild parties,” Bruce offered with a semi-shrug then stepped back. “Jim, I’ll explain everything, but it’s not the right time. I’ll find you later, I do know where you live,” he said with a small smile and Jim nodded his agreement.
When he got to the Narrows Loeb, predictably, was furious, but at least the reports were coming in that the situation outside of the island was more or less under control. And few minutes later, Lucius Fox had called, wanting to speak to Gordon about the delivery of the antidote.
Somehow, Jim had found himself smack in the middle of the whole damage control operation; most of the experienced officers were already on the island, drugged out of their minds, and someone needed to step in.
“We need an official version for the press,” Loeb muttered, and of course that would be his main concern at the moment.
“Unknown terrorist group?” Jim supplied dryly and, of course, they went with it. Some things about media Jim would never understand.
By the time he made it home, he was just about to drop dead with exhaustion just where he stood. He almost didn’t notice that his door were open.
“You need to stop breaking in,” he pointed out tiredly. “I mean, among with all the destruction of property in the last few days, you sure are racking up an impressive rap sheet.”
Bruce snorted. “Actually, I used your key. You didn’t change the locks in seven years?”
“Who’d want to break in here? Except for you, apparently.” He didn’t add that once he gave Bruce the key, he didn’t want to change the locks. “How’s Rachel?”
“Sleeping off the excitement. She was out like a light, I didn’t even have to drug her this time,” Bruce said, and it could have been a joke, but it really wasn’t. “She also knows about me.”
“High time,” Jim muttered and sunk to the couch next to Bruce. “How pissed was she?”
“Not that much. But I think she likes me more as Batman than she does as Bruce Wayne.”
Jim rolled his eyes. “Rachel loves you, and you know that very well, so end the pity party. Is Alfred alright? You said the Manor…”
“Yes, he’s fine. Pulled me out from there, actually.” Bruce raised his hand to stop the questions Jim could tell he had written on his face, they threatened to spill out quickly. “It’s a long story.”
“I have time.”
“It started while I’ve been gone. There was a place I’ve learned to… well, I’ve learned a lot there. The man who thought me the most of it, his name was Henri Ducard.”
Jim couldn’t miss the tone, wistful and angry and regretful at the same time and he shifted uncomfortably. Bruce noticed, of course he noticed, and he shook his head.
“I don’t know. I wasn’t sure, and now I think that no, I couldn’t have loved him. But maybe I have,” he didn’t look at Jim as he said it, watching his hands instead, long fingers restful and still for once. It was something; to have Bruce Wayne open up for once, no evading, no running. “Turned out he wasn’t quite what I thought he was, that our views weren’t so aligned. He wanted to rid the world of evil, yes, but his methods…”
“He was the one Crane was working for.” It seemed insane, but somehow, Jim was sure of it. “Why would he...?”
“Gotham had been almost a symbol of all that is wrong with the world. He tried to use me as tool of it’s destruction. He tried to destroy it once before, I never knew that.”
Jim shook his head. “You have an awful taste in friends.”
Bruce smiled, visibly despite himself, then shrugged. “No, I really don’t. He just wasn’t a friend after all.”
“And how the Manor burning down features into it?”
“Payback. I burned down his house.”
The matter-of-fact way he said it startled a laugh from Jim, which he quickly tried to keep down. “Well, no one can say your life isn’t interesting.”
“It’s about to get even more so. It might have been a dramatic beginning, but Batman is going to be needed for a long while, I’m afraid.”
“I’m in, as long as you don’t take up speaking of yourself in third person as a habit,” Jim muttered and reached out finally, touching Bruce’s face as he wanted to do since the beginning of the conversation.
“I’ll work on that.” Bruce leaned into the touch, his eyes closing for a moment.
“There’s a lot of things to work on,” Jim agreed, moving just a little bit closer. “But we can start tomorrow.”
“That’s the best idea I’ve heard all day,” Bruce muttered. “Granted, some ideas I’ve heard were really awful, but still, yours is definitely the best.”
It was, actually. Well, mostly, kissing Bruce was a fantastic idea, if he ever had one. It’s been a crazy couple of days, to say the least, but with this as the outcome, he couldn’t complain too much. Those seven years of Bruce’s absence; he didn’t even realize how empty they felt, and how during them, the need to take care of Bruce turned into simpler need, then turned into a different kind of love altogether.
Bruce’s hand was in his hair, pulling him close, insistent fingers of his left hand already working on the buttons of Jim’s shirt.
“Let’s at least move off the couch,” Jim suggested, when he could force himself to pulling back for even a moment.
“To the floor, or do you actually want to make the whole trip to the bedroom?”
“It’s a small apartment, my bedroom isn’t three floors away,” he pointed out and Bruce laughed into his mouth. Jim just wanted to taste the sound, lick it off Bruce’s lips. It was foolish and impossible, but it did feel nice to try anyway.
“You know,” Bruce muttered, his voice muffled as he tried to walk to the bedroom and take off his t-shirt at the same time. “You have no idea for how long I thought about this.”
“I’m greatly flattered,” Jim said impatiently, trying to work out the buttons on Bruce’s jeans as they stumbled into the bedroom and towards the bed. “And just slightly freaked out, considering you kissed me when you were still in high school.”
“Oh, please,” Bruce said, leaning in to lick at the corner of Jim’s mouth, prying them open with his tongue. “Like that was a kiss.”
“You have, gods, you have a point,” Jim admitted, breathing harshly. Bruce’s hips moved against him, and yes, of course Bruce took a comment like this and went with the pun without even having to spell it out. “You’re just going to be the death of me, aren’t you?” he asked, but it somehow didn’t come out accusing and dry, it came out almost pleading.
“What I was going to say,” Bruce continued, as if he didn’t hear the question, but there was a small hitch in his breathing at it. “Was that I couldn’t stop thinking about you for more than seven years. Thought of doing this…” he run his hand over Jim’s cock, getting a groan out of him, and a desperate need to get out of his pants as soon as possible, “had really gotten me through a few cold nights in prison.”
It took a long moment to register, possibly due to the fact that Bruce finally undid Jim’s pants enough to sneak his hand inside. “What? When the hell where you in prison?”
Bruce smirked and damn, Jim was going to kill him. Later. “China. Good times, only not really,” he said casually. “Does that thought excite you, detective? I could find your handcuffs…”
“You are an absolute bastard,” Jim said, laughing, but it was just a tad strained as Bruce continued to stroke him. “And I don’t think I’m going to believe a word you’re saying, from now on.”
“It was actually true,” Bruce shrugged. “Both the China part and the fantasizing about you a lot. And about this,” he added, pushing Jim onto the bed finally, kneeling down.
“Oh, god,” was all that Jim could get out as Bruce’s mouth was on him, and he really, really didn’t want to try and consider where the hell did Bruce learn that, especially taking that prison conversation and he was definitely going to kill Bruce for getting him to think about that.
“Yeah, just like that,” Bruce muttered, his fingers digging into the skin on Jim’s thighs, probably leaving marks for later, but Jim didn’t mind at all. “Exactly how I imagined it, seeing you come undone.”
“Do you always talk that much?” Jim managed to say with some curiosity, a little dimmed by the fact that his heart was pounding loudly in his head.
“You’ll get used to it,” Bruce said confidently, and Jim was going to call him on it, say that maybe he was getting ahead of himself but really, he didn’t care, and Bruce wasn’t. Whatever Bruce wanted from him, Jim would be, there was no going back right now.
And there was really not going back right at this moment, because Bruce soon had him coming hard, and there was something about the image of Bruce sucking his cock into softness that was probably going to be the cause for his first heart attack.
“Bruce,” he muttered, pulling at Bruce’s hand, guiding him onto the bed, turning to the side so he could taste himself on Bruce’s lips.
“Jim,” Bruce deadpanned, but then he smiled and Jim couldn’t help but grin back.
“Come on,” he muttered, working on freeing Bruce’s cock from his pants, stroking it slowly as he kept on kissing Bruce. Kissing Bruce could, in fact, be his new favourite pastime.
When Bruce came, spilling into Jim’s hand, he hid his face in Jim’s neck, warm breath on skin. It was a terrible cliché to say that time stood still, but it did, or at least it felt that way to Jim.
“We either move now, or we’re staying like that, and your back won’t thank you in the morning,” Bruce muttered, completely ruining the mood. Jim snorted.
“What about your back?”
“Well, I’m young and my diet isn’t composed mostly of coffee and arteries-destroying late breakfast at Kelly’s.”
“I won’t even ask how you know that one, but Alfred is a damn rat,” Jim said, his voice low, and it was because he was tired, not because he thought that maybe Alfred could hear him. No one was that good. He shifted, briefly placing a kiss on Bruce’s forehead before he moved up to clean them both and shed the rest of the clothing. “You’re staying?” he made sure, not looking up from folding his pants.
“Just for that, you’re making the coffee in the morning,” Bruce muttered and burrowed himself under the covers.
It didn’t sound like a bad kind of a deal.
He slept better than he had in ages. It could have been the exhaustion and coming down from the adrenaline high, but then again, he had been tired and weary for months, years even, and he never slept that well.
Jim woke up to the sound of his cellphone ringing furiously, apparently not for the first time, judging from the angry voicemail queue. Bruce just muttered something unkind towards whoever had been calling and then proceeded to dig himself a hiding place in the covers. It would be endearing, if not for the fact that he was draped all over Jim, and Jim’s legs has gone to an even deeper sleep than the one he woke up from.
“Move,” he told Bruce, to no response. “I’m going to make coffee.”
Bruce shifted immediately, eyes closed and breathing even, as if he was still fast asleep. Uncanny, Jim thought. He filled the coffee maker and turned it on, then checked the messages. More than he dared to listen to. Loeb wanted to see him first thing, and that never bode well. Stephens left three confusing messages about the press and something about an MCU, and then there were actual messages from the press, which Jim gave up on after the first two.
“I think we’ve started something,” Bruce said, leaning against the doorframe. He stole Jim’s pajama bottoms from the drawer and didn’t even have the decency of looking bad in them. Quite the opposite, in fact.
“An avalanche,” Jim agreed. “That’s going to fall on my head sometime soon. I wonder if Loeb wants to fire me…” he mused aloud, with some wistfulness in his voice. That way he would avoid all the chaos and cleaning up that was going to happen now. On the other hand, two days into semi-retirement and he would go absolutely insane, he could tell.
“You should just call him back,” Bruce said, reaching around Jim to fill a mug with coffee, holding it up protectively in two hands and inhaling. “See what he wants.”
Of course he’d go with being logical. Jim rolled his eyes and poured his own cup. “And you? What are your plans now?”
“Which ones?” Bruce asked, sighing. “About the manor, the company, the Batman?” Well, at least there was someone whose life seemed a little bit more complicated than Jim’s. It wasn’t a great consolation, though.
But under the weariness in Bruce’s voice, one he was still too young to have, in Jim’s opinion, but one couldn’t help some things; under that there was something akin to excitement. First steps had been taken but the work was not done, and Bruce was looking forward to it.
Which meant, basically, that Jim better go and see Loeb and judge what his part would be in all of this. Or get fired. That remained to be seen.
The station was practically under siege; it was impossible to even drive into the street, less alone find a parking space. Every square inch was taken up by the press, or by the constant traffic of uniforms going in and out, with marching orders or new detainees, all of them coming down from the hallucinogen.
The press was quite happy to see him, apparently, and quite possibly also on some kind of drugs, because they kept asking about a Major Crimes Unit, which Gordon was pretty sure Gotham didn’t have, however much it was needed.
“You probably know more than I do, ladies and gentlemen,” he told them dryly. “I’d like to get on with my day, which is going to be quite difficult without your help, thank you.”
“What the hell is going on?” he asked Stephens and got a surprised look that grew into gleeful realization, and that look on Stephens wasn’t good at all.
“Didn’t you hear, Jimbo? You’re the new hero cop in town,” he said and stood up, clapping slowly, in that manner that headmasters everywhere use to encourage the students to join in and, of course, the entire precinct did, because they liked a good show, and embarrassing Jim was sure to prove one.
“Laugh it up,” he told them, then turned back to Stephens. “No, but really.”
“This might help,” Stephens handed him the morning Gotham Times, which of course sported a fuzzy picture of the batman on the first page, and its three pages were taken up by the story of last night’s events, however dramatized and bent out of proportion. “Not there. Read on,” Stephens said cheerfully, watching Jim’s face. “Yes, there.”
The quotes, damn them all to hell. There was, of course, Loeb bringing out that ‘unknown terrorist group’ crap, and then assuring everyone that Gotham PD will have it soon under control. And when asked how it would be done, he trotted out Jim’s name as someone who saved the day and was now going to manage the aftermath.
“And then,” Stephens added, waving his hand like a magician unveiling a trick. And then there was Rachel Dawes, talking about Crane and the drugs and Falcone’s involvement and the chaos in the Narrows, and ‘Jim Gordon’s heroic actions that directly led to saving the entire city from the same fate’.
Jim was going to kill her.
Sure, it was probably done with good intent, to minimize Bruce’s involvement and to protect Batman’s identity, but honestly, Jim might agree with that part but he certainly didn’t appreciate the now sure attention of both the press and criminals alike. If pressed, he would choose the criminals, to be honest.
“What’s with the Major Crimes, then?” he asked, fearing that he actually knew the answer already.
“Oh, you’re going to love this,” Stephens grinned. “Loeb made a grand plan to fix Gotham on the spot, and a part of it is to create a new Unit. And guess who had been pushed to lead it? You have three guesses and the first two don’t count. Seems you’re the new darling with the high-ups.”
“And all that happened when?” Jim took off his glasses, pinching the bridge of his nose. If he thought the last day had been difficult… he had no idea.
“You probably shouldn’t have taken all that time to rest,” Stephens said with fake sympathy. “That’s why you’re going to need someone to help you with all that shit. Think of me when you’re hiring,” he added and punched Jim’s shoulder, pushing him towards the general direction of Loeb’s office. “Go in, you’re expected. And fix your tie.”
Stephens clearly was enjoying himself too much. At least someone was.
Loeb, of course, confirmed all that Stephens said, only his spiel wasn’t delivered with a shit-eating grin, but a grim expression saying that he didn’t like it one bit, but this was how it was going to be, so Jim better man-up and generate some good press and quick.
Jim could live without the promotion, but for one brief moment some recognition did feel nice. Of course, he got over that particular warm feeling quickly, when all the other pressing matters intruded on his mind. It was going to take work and time and probably all of his energy, and he was bone-tired already. But when you got down to it, the idea wasn’t bad.
The city could use the unit, hell, it needed the unit badly. Even with Falcone out of the way, the mob would soon have a new leader, and things would be back to the way they were. They needed to get down to it before the mob organized itself, they needed a head start. This could work.
And there was this thought ringing in his brain, that if Bruce was launching his campaign to save the city, this could be the help he needed.
He looked through the papers Loeb handed him; the project didn’t look half bad, the idea was sound and the budget he could work with, but…
“I’m choosing my own people,” Jim said, pushing the last piece of paper away, across the desk. Loeb’s eyebrows traveled so high they almost met his receding hairline; he certainly didn’t expect that. Sergeant Jim Gordon wasn’t exactly known as the type to argue. Make sardonic comments from the sidelines, sure, but not argue.
Well, Sergeant Jim Gordon might not have liked to draw attention, but Lieutenant Jim Gordon was going to throw all the caution to the wind, consequences be damned.
“If I am to run this unit, I need to have a trusted team. I’m not making any decisions rashly, and I want to take time to choose them,” he said firmly. “And if you want me in charge, I expect to have more independence in running it than most of the units. I’m sure we can work out the details later.”
The thing was, Loeb was going to agree. At this moment Jim knew with certainty that he could demand offices at the city hall and get it. Loeb needed him, especially after he already informed the press Jim Gordon was taking over the unit. There was no going back, not without causing a minor scandal, and another one of those was exactly what the force didn’t need right now.
“Fine,” Loeb nodded, giving Jim a dark look.
Loeb wasn’t a bad cop, Jim remembered having him as the captain and he had always been fair and beyond the suspicion for corruption. But he preferred the comfort of the desk over a cold night at stake-out; Jim couldn’t blame him, but he didn’t have to approve. Putting Loeb on the spot like this was a little low, but it was necessary.
“How did it go?” Stephens asked when Jim made it out, slightly dazed from the fact that he did actually get everything he did ask for, and some things he didn’t even think of requesting.
“Surreally. Listen, I’m going home,” he said, deciding on the spot. He got a strange look for this, as it probably was the first time in years that he said those words when it wasn’t so late it could be called early. “I have paperwork to go through, and journalists to avoid. Next week are going to be very busy, so you might as well get a headstart on packing up your desk,” he said pointedly, trying not to grin to widely and Gerry’s delighted smile.
Once he left the precinct and managed to make his escape from the journalists by promising them more info in the following days, he of course passed the turn that lead to his house and chose to go to the Manor instead. Bruce’s message on his voicemail, short and succinct, informed him that this was where he and Alfred would be all day, ‘assessing the damages’, as he said.
And those were extensive. The fire had been put out, but pieces of the ruins were still smoking, black clouds of smoke rising at various place. It looked terrible, everything that the Wayne Manor was, gone. Jim didn’t ask what happened before, and now he wasn’t sure he wanted to know. Of course, he did notice the one-page article in the paper, but he glanced at the headline and didn’t believe one word, so there was that.
All of them were there: Alfred, Bruce, and Rachel. Jim just gave her a dark look and she smiled cheerfully.
“Congratulations on the promotion,” she offered and he rolled his eyes.
“Don’t think I’m done with you, it’s probably all your fault,” he told her, much to her delight, and then actually took a moment to look at her. “Fuck, aren’t you cold?”
That earned him an unkind glare in return, but honestly, it was chilly; Jim wasn’t exactly warm in his jacket and coat, and Alfred had an actual wool coat on, and he had been through cold British winters. Bruce was wearing a light sweater, but Bruce was once in a damn Chinese prison, so he had probably a much higher tolerance for discomfort. Rachel’s flimsy blouse was a joke.
“So, they did offer you that promotion?” Bruce asked, walking closer from where he had been discussing something about foundations with Alfred.
“Punishment for all my sins, I suppose,” Jim said breezily and instinctively leaned into the touch when Bruce pulled him in for a quick kiss. He didn’t dare to look up for a moment, but when he did, Alfred seemed absolutely unfazed, as if he had expected that (which he probably had), and Rachel was shaking her head, smiling.
It was a strange feeling to have among ruins that still smelled of smoke, but he couldn’t shake it off: life wasn’t bad at all.