The problem with Renee Montoya settling into the MCU was that, well, she settled in. Which meant coming to treat all the other detectives as annoying siblings and, apparently, deciding that Jim was the paternal figure she wanted to bug the hell out of.
But she also made it her mission to make sure he did take a break for lunch that was made of something other than coffee, and that he went home at the end of his shift when it looked like he might forget.
“Someone has to,” Stephens told him when Jim chose to complain. “And we’d figured she’s like a cute puppy you wouldn’t dare to kick. You sure wouldn’t listen to any one of us.”
It’s true, he wouldn’t. But if Montoya was a puppy, she was a baby rottweiler. “Did you have lunch?” she asked, walking into his office without knocking, as she was wont to do.
“Yes,” he lied, straight-faced, then sighed. “Well, no, but I’m going to. It’s Friday.”
Which meant a lunch meeting with the commissioner. The part Montoya didn’t know was that it was only called lunch meeting because it took place around the time normal people had lunch. With Loeb, however, it was half an hour of strained conversation about status reports and arguing about budget.
The only part that was even remotely entertaining was at the very end of every one of those meetings, when Loeb closed the files and sighed, pushing them further onto the pile on his desk, and asked: “And how are you doing with Batman?”
“We’re getting closer,” Jim had said, unchangeably, and it amused him for at least five minutes every time.
This time, however, there was a small change in the routine, as Loeb leaned back in his chair and sighed. “I know you’re not, and that’s fine. But I need that made clear to everyone: justice is not to be taken in one’s own hands. We can’t have people acting as judge and jury, inspired by that flying madman.”
“Sir,” Jim nodded. It was a good word, it could mean anything, and this time it meant: I agree with you but I also disagree completely.
The sad part was that ever since his promotion he had people aim that one at him. There was a price to pay for everything, he supposed.
Loeb looked down at his desk, then his gaze fixed back on Jim. “We don’t need copycats, so the official policy on Batman is still arrest on sight, understood?” After Jim slowly nodded and added one more ‘sir’ for a good measure, Loeb continued. “So make sure none of your officers actually sees him, alright? And fix that damn light.”
Well, that was unexpected, Jim thought as he made his way downstairs, to the underground garage of the city hall. Halfway there, he had to turn back and go back for his coat, and that was a rather clear indication of how much Loeb’s marching orders surprised him. He needed to revise his opinion on the man, he thought, as he stepped back into the garage, fumbling with his keys as he made his way towards his car.
Which was about the moment his car exploded and when everything went dark.
True, he got about seven death threats a week, but honestly, who would be stupid enough to actually try something? Well, fine, who would be smart enough to actually succeed? And Jim didn’t kid himself, whoever it was, they would succeed, if he didn’t forget his damn coat; the timing was perfect and fit in his routine.
It wasn’t a happy thought, but it wasn’t the first one he had after waking up either. He must have drifted in and out for a while, because he could vaguely remember the hospital machines beeping and someone talking to him, and Bruce’s voice saying something that seemed important but he couldn’t remember it now.
Right now, however, everything was dark and fuzzy, the room was deadly quiet and empty, there wasn’t even a beeping machine to keep him company and keep him from hearing his heart pounding in his head. He felt around for his glasses, but they weren’t within reach.
Someone moved, to his right, and Jim reached out instinctively. “Bruce?”
“Interesting,” Montoya muttered and Jim cringed, closing his eyes. She stepped closer and handed him a pair of glasses; not his own, but they would do, he could see much clearer through them, even though the room remained deep in darkness.
Renee smiled reassuringly. “He’s in the cafeteria, getting himself more coffee, like he needs that. The British guy gave up on trying to persuade Wayne to leave and went home to get a change of clothes.”
“Renee,” he started and she nodded, sitting down on the chair next to the bed.
“I’ve figured. I’m not going to tell anyone, so don’t worry, boss,” she said lightly, but with an odd inflection, as if she wanted to say something else. “I also fought tooth and nail to be the one to stay with you, so no one from the precinct actually saw Wayne. And I think maybe one or two doctors and nurses, but he went into great lengths of convincing them to stay quiet. I believe bribes were given, but I’m letting this one slide, because I’m tired and possibly I didn’t see right.”
“I’m really glad I hired you,” he told her and she nodded.
“I thought you might. Now, other news… Stephens is on the case, the bomb itself wasn’t very helpful to indicate the perp, so they’re going over all the death threats you got recently.”
“That’s going to take them some time.”
“That’s what I said. But Stephens said the Bat showed up and was pretty pissed, so they’re hoping for a miraculous break in the case quite soon.”
Not if Bruce was spending all his time in the hospital, Jim thought. Which, actually, was a good thought, even though it was impractical and foolish and, yes, damn wonderful.
“Oh, and about seventeen different journalists called up and wanted an interview. I promised you’d talk to each and every one of them.”
Jim nodded. “You’re fired. Go away.”
She laughed. “Yeah, I thought that would cheer you up…” she said and paused, looking up as the door opened, letting in a snoop of light. “That’s my cue to go away, I guess,” she said and hesitated, then reached out, squeezing Jim’s hand. “Get back soon, okay? Stephens is a lousy boss.”
Bruce nodded at her and she smiled back, which was pretty amazing, if you asked Jim. No one did, however, so he kept that one to himself and waited until she left and Bruce closed the doors carefully, taking a second to lock them.
“So, what’s your excuse?” Bruce asked, his tone light and teasing, but Jim wasn’t fooled in the slightest, not this time.
“I don’t know, but I’m sure I can get my doctor to write me a note,” he said and raised his hand, reaching out. Bruce nodded and stepped in closer, placing the coffee cup on the side table very carefully, then sat down on the edge of the bed, inching closer before he visibly gave in to the need for more contact and laid his head on Jim’s chest.
It must have been an uncomfortable position, Bruce’s spine bent unnaturally, but he didn’t seem to mind, and so Jim didn’t mention it, just reached out, fingers threading Bruce’s hair soothingly. “It’s okay,” he said and Bruce let out a long breath, burying his face in the covers just for a moment.
For a moment, he looked like a kid again, lost and in need of comfort. Then he looked up, and he looked tired and older than he had any right to be.
“For the moment,” Bruce said quietly, and it was less of an agreement and more of a pessimistic prediction.
Jim shook his head, lost for words for the moment, trying for a change in topic. Not a far change, but something else than this, anything. “Montoya said you were looking into the case.”
Bruce nodded. “And coming up blank so far, maybe you could help. Pissed anyone off lately? More than usual, that is?”
“Define usual,” Jim shrugged and moved to sit up more comfortably. “When can I get out of here?”
“Doctors say a week, so I think you’ll be edging to leave tomorrow. You have just a few bruises, and a rather nasty burn in a rather interesting place on your thigh, but you also had a major concussion. Those were a couple of interesting conversation we had when you were drifting in an out of it.”
“I don’t remember.”
“I was rather hoping for that,” Bruce said with a self-satisfied smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. Jim sighed.
“How do you even know of the burn? There is actually a law against molesting unconscious people, you know.”
Bruce smiled again, and again it was far from a real one. “You can arrest me any moment you like, lieutenant.”
Jim nodded slowly. “I don’t think there’s any real need for that. I think I already have you,” he added quietly and Bruce’s studied expression finally crumbled, the worry and the fear and the pain finally showing. Jim didn’t really wanted to see all that, but he needed to, and Bruce needed to show it.
“You know, I didn’t exactly want to worry you like that,” he said and tugged at Bruce’s sleeve, unrolling it absently, smoothing it down, reaching to do the same with the other one. “I suppose it cannot be helped, though.”
If anyone should understand, it was Bruce, whose skin was marred with scars and bruises and burns of his own, who risked far more and far more often. But understanding wasn’t exactly accepting, as Jim knew pretty damn well.
“Have you been here for the entire time?” he asked, his tone lighter, and Bruce shrugged.
“I’ve left to talk to Stephens and to poke around for a bit, trying to see what I could find on the case. Other than that, mostly. So was Renee, and she was surprisingly nice to me.”
“Told you she liked you.”
“She liked Batman, not Bruce Wayne. But she might not hate me actively anymore, which is good, as it’s going to be one less person likely to shoot me.”
“Small mercies,” Jim said and reached out again, hand cupping Bruce’s cheek. “You know that I love you, don’t you?” he asked quietly, his voice turning into a whisper, and for a moment he thought that maybe Bruce didn’t hear, for there was no response for a long while.
Then Bruce was shifting, crawling into bed next to Jim, his body carefully molding to fit around Jim without disturbing the bandage he now could feel on his side.
“I know,” Bruce muttered into Jim’s neck, his breath warm and heavy, his arm draped around Jim. “I always knew, but it was different then. And now it’s everything.”
Jim nodded, his chin resting on top of Bruce’s head. He went through many ways of loving Bruce, but this felt like the last and the complete one; indeed it felt like everything.
Bruce’s breathing calmed down quickly. Jim suspected he hadn’t been sleeping for however long Jim had been here, which must have been long enough to tire out Bruce, and that was impressive. Bruce never slept easily, not in Jim’s memory. There were better nights but there were those that were truly dreadful, but this sleep was calm and even and Jim relaxed as well, letting himself be engulfed by that warm and comfortable feeling.
He woke up briefly some time later, when the door opened. It was a further testimony of how tired Bruce was that he didn’t rouse, but maybe it had been because he was used to Alfred’s footsteps and could recognize them as something familiar and comforting even in his sleep.
“Glad to see you back among the living, Jim,” Alfred said quietly, placing a large overnight bag on the chair next to the door and smiling, an actual smile that for anyone else would be a twitch of mouth, but for Alfred it was a positive grin.
“Glad to be back,” Jim agreed, his fingers tightening as he held Bruce’s hand. It must have happened while they were asleep, their fingers laced tightly and held on, but Jim wasn’t about to let go now, quite the opposite.
His arm went to sleep already and he’d pay for it with pins and needles once he moved, but it was too close to perfection to even attempt such a thing.
“He needs his sleep,” Alfred agreed with Jim’s unspoken conviction.
“How long was I out?”
“Four days,” Alfred said in a pointed tone that confirmed that Bruce indeed didn’t get any shuteye for the entirety of that time. “I’ll stand guard, in case anyone tries to disturb you.”
Jim didn’t envy anyone who tried; Alfred seemed quite determined to make their lives a living hell.
He wasn’t sure when he fell asleep himself, but when he woke up, the room was filled with sunlight and Bruce was gone. Considering he left his shoes on the floor, he probably didn’t get far away, though.
“Something else than hospital food,” Bruce offered five minutes later, using his knee to open the door carefully, balancing the tray with coffee cups and a wonderfully greasy looking bag.
“You certainly know how to treat a guy,” Jim muttered, sitting up eagerly. “And did you actually go out barefoot?”
Bruce shrugged, poking at Jim’s legs to make him scoot over to make room for Bruce on the bed. He then handed Jim one of the coffee cups, still hot and smelling quite heavenly. “It’s not such a strange thing as you might think. When I’ve been in…”
“If the next words out of your mouth are going to be ‘prison’ or ‘China’, I don’t want to know,” Jim said pleasantly and inhaled the coffee. He wasn’t exactly sure how long it was since he had eaten; his stomach didn’t feel empty but he didn’t actually remember eating anything, so he felt quite hungry anyway. His throat was dry and his lips parched, so he suspected some IV had been employed and god, did coffee sound good.
Bruce was laughing at him for some reason and Jim looked up, frowning. “What?”
“You’re drinking that coffee or having sex with it?”
Jim rolled his eyes. “If anyone, you should be the one to know the difference, Bruce,” he offered pleasantly and closed his eyes, taking a sip. “What’s in the bag?”
“I’m not sure I should tell you, for the fear of being broken up with for the bag’s contents.”
Jim contemplated rolling his eyes, but settled on just pulling the bag away from Bruce to discover the Kelly’s burger, coupled with greasy fries. “Never breaking up with you,” he muttered happily, and the subtle drop in the mood was palpable; maybe he became attuned to Bruce’s thoughts and highs and lows somehow. “And you should know that,” he pointed out quietly.
“I probably do,” Bruce muttered and reached out to steal a fry. “Now, I’ve been making inquiries.”
“By making inquiries you mean calling people, or running around the city and punching some other people?” Jim asked with some interest, downing the rest of the coffee. It was terrible and whoever made it probably hadn’t cleaned the coffee maker for weeks, which basically meant that Jim loved it.
“The former,” Bruce answered absently, as if the question hadn’t been at all strange. Well, with their lives, it probably didn’t even register on the mildly weird scale. “No one claimed responsibility so far, even by the means of bragging between fellow dirtbags. Which means less of a statement and more of a job.”
“Someone already wants me dead so much they’re willing to pay to have me killed? And I’ve been thinking I wasn’t doing a good job.”
Bruce gave him a look that maybe would have some effect in chastising Jim if he wasn’t about twelve years older than Bruce and Jim hadn’t witnessed him trying to worm his way out of eating his greens, once upon a time, in what seemed to be a different life.
“Fine,” he muttered after a moment. “Any idea who ordered the hit, or who planted the bomb?”
“Brings us back to: who did you piss of lately?”
“Loeb, mostly,” Jim shrugged. “But I don’t think he’d have enough money to order the hit. I’d go with the mob bosses, but why now? I’ve been a pain in their side for a few months now. And, by the way, so have you. No one actually attempted to kill Batman. As far as I know…?”
“Not more than usual and nothing actually organized. But then again, you’re much easier to get to… but there’s Harvey, too, who gets as many death threats as you do and have been working to bring down the bosses even harder than you, and he didn’t have a bomb in his car.”
Bruce nodded, shifting, pulling his leg under himself, settling in more comfortably on the bed. “I’ll go over your last cases, there could be something you got that is making them sweat.”
“I didn’t have any major break in a while.”
“That you know of. You could have stumbled upon something you didn’t think important, and it has them worried.”
“Well, they should have said something. You know how I hate to worry the mobsters,” Jim said dryly and wiped his hands against the napkin he found in the bag. It didn’t help much, it was as greasy as the fries themselves, but it was the effort that counted.
There was a quick, impatient knocking on the door and Jim shifted nervously; there was no way this knocking belonged to Alfred. Maybe Rachel, but she would probably just barged in, she did that.
“Probably Montoya, I told her you wanted to review your cases.” At Jim’s look Bruce shrugged, adding “I could just break into your account, but I figured this would be easier. And I wouldn’t have to leave.”
“Come in,” Jim said loudly and indeed, Montoya walked in, glancing around with some frowning suspicion before nodding at Bruce almost cordially.
“Good to see you, boss,” she said and hauled her bag onto the bed, almost crushing Jim’s feet with it. “I brought your laptop, but I grabbed all the files you had printed out. You know how much trees you’re killing with that?” she asked, smiling and Jim ignored her.
Maybe, but he liked to have all the data and all the reports like this, ink on paper and not little signs on the screen that conspired to amount to a grand headache every damn time. Call him old-fashioned, but he needed the board in his office when he was working a case, and he needed all the data spread on his desk in his own system.
“Joined Greenpeace, Montoya?”
“No. It’s just fucking heavy,” she said cheerfully. “Thank god Stephens drove me here. He’s on his way, actually, he was just looking for a parking spot,” she added pointedly, glancing at Bruce, who dutifully stood up and moved to the chair next to the bed.
Jim felt the loss of Bruce’s warm leg pressing against his, tangible even through the covers, and his mood dropped just that little bit.
Montoya laughed, shaking her head. “God, boss, you really have no idea how to even pretend you’re in the closet, eh?” she asked, grinning. He could give her a rather good answer to that, but this would be unkind and uncalled for. He settled for giving her a mild glare, but that never really worked.
“I like her,” Bruce said from his seat.
“You would,” Jim agreed.
“There’s no place to park in ten mile radius,” Gerald grumbled walking in. “I put the siren on and just left it in the middle of the street,” he said, and Jim wasn’t sure if it was a joke or not, and he preferred not to ask. “Well done staying alive, I was afraid I would get your job if you kicked the bucket.”
“Wouldn’t wish such a fate on you,” Jim muttered, watching Bruce out of the corner of his eye. There was something weird about his expression, something completely fake, that wasn’t there a moment ago. Bruce had been fine with Montoya walking in, but not with Gerry.
It was intriguing, to say the least. Stephens had been Jim’s friend for years, ever since Jim moved to Gotham from Chicago; he and Gerry were rookies together. But Jim’s work was always separate from what passed for his personal life, and Bruce and Gerry had met maybe once or twice, very briefly, apart from the few times they talked when it was Batman, not Bruce, showing up.
They worked well under those circumstances; Gerry trusted the bat with the job and Bruce seemed to have similar opinion of Stephens. So this, the distrust, or the wariness, Jim wasn’t sure, was strange.
“You’ve met Bruce?” Jim said casually and Gerry nodded.
Well, Jim had been to funerals that happened to be more cheerful. He caught Montoya’s eye, and she seemed concentrated, like she was watching a tennis match, eyes flickering between the two men. She nodded at Jim, shrugging slowly, then turned to Bruce.
“Hey, Wayne, how about we get to the cafeteria and grab some donuts? I haven’t eaten for hours, and I’m sure boss could go for one too.”
There was something about the mere concept of Montoya playing a peacemaker in any situation that terrified Jim, but this seemed like an actually good idea, so Jim nodded. “Sprinkles,” he muttered.
Montoya shook her head. ”As if I could forget,” she sent him one final smile and practically pushed Bruce out of the room. It would be entertaining, if Jim wasn’t worried at the moment.
He glanced at Stephens, who was frowning somewhat furiously, and this too was unsettling. “What is it, Gerry? And if you’re thinking of trying for any kind of innocent look, remember who schedules your roster.”
Stephens sighed. “I asked you once before, but I need an actual answer now, Jimbo. What is it with you and Wayne?”
Jim had probably owed him the answer, or at least owed him enough not to lie. “Why?”
“Do you know where he’s been the last seven years? There’ve been stories, and, well, you never know. How much do you really trust him?”
Jim startled at the sound of his own laughter, shaking his head at the ridiculousness of the mere thought. Gerry looked at him, probably not appreciating the outburst but honestly, it was funny once you knew the joke.
“What’s so funny?”
Jim shrugged, taking his glasses off to pinch the bridge of his nose, serious again. “If you’re even thinking of implying Bruce would have something, anything, to do with the bomb, you’re out of your mind, no offence,” he muttered. “I know where he’s been all that time, there’s nothing to worry about there.”
“If you say so,” Stephens said, clearly unconvinced.
Jim was silent for a very long moment, weighing the pros and cons of the decision he knew he was going to make. “You gave Montoya the same interrogation routine about that friend of hers? Delia, was it?”
It was just slightly amusing to see Stephens connect the obvious dots, his eyebrows rising so high they met his hairline.
“You’re fucking with me,” he said finally, voice filled with doubt and amazement and Jim snorted.
“That’s your choice of words and you’re sticking to it?”
Gerry rolled his eyes. “Fine, I’ll rephrase. But you’re not joking, then?”
“I never really had a sense of humour.”
“True, that,” Stephens said and sighed. “Tomorrow I’ll have Bullock coming out, and then I’m just checking myself into Arkham, because that would be fun and surreal.”
“Good to see you’re taking it well.”
Stephens sighed again, running his hand down his face. “Bruce Wayne. Honestly, Bruce Wayne,” he said slowly. “I think you’re insane, but hey. On the other hand, I’m going to have to tell the wife to stop thinking of setting you up.”
“I would be very much obliged,” Jim nodded.
“At least there’s a good excuse why you were so crap at dating all those women,” Gerry added, clearly enjoying himself after the initial shock has faded.
“Yes. Go away now,” Jim muttered. “Even beside the fact that your comedy routine is setting back my recovery by annoying the hell out of me, the kids need to have someone watching over them. Especially if your major theory on the bomb is Bruce. Honestly, Stephens, step up your game,” he smirked and got an unkind look in return.
“See if I visit you next time someone tries to blow you up.”
“That’s cold,” Jim muttered, shaking his head. “Now, the doctors are telling me I’m stuck in here for at least a day more. Well, they said four but I must have misheard. So the unit is yours till tomorrow, try not to break it. The current theory I’m going with is that someone I’ve been investigating thinks I know something I shouldn’t.”
“Current theory? Not your current theory?”
“Bat’s,” Jim admitted and Stephens nodded. “I’ll be looking through the latest developments on my cases, have Montoya go through the things on your end, maybe she sees something I’ve missed.”
“Will do. Also, Loeb’s been calling the office, asking when you’ll be back. Apparently he missed you.”
“Of course he did. I suppose the press must be asking questions.”
Stephens looked away shiftily and Jim sighed. “How many?”
“Just one van outside of the hospital. And that blonde from Gotham Times was by the precinct two times already. She’s a firecracker, that one, and the boys are slowly warming up to her, so watch out.” At Jim’s look he shrugged again. “She brings donuts and has really shiny hair, what do you expect? No one gave her any details of the investigation, but there were plenty of quotes about your bravery and the fact that you’re the crucial part of the team.”
“I’m regretting the bomb didn’t kill me,” Jim sighed. “Go stop that nonsense. Anyone quoted in the paper will be working the grave shift for the next month.”
“See, you should have mentioned it before I gave my interview.”
Stephens went, grinning happily, and Jim didn’t give into the impulse of throwing a pillow after him only because then he wouldn’t have a pillow and his back wouldn’t thank him for that.
Bruce came back seconds later, which just could mean he was sulking outside. Or standing guard, but probably sulking. He was also holding an ice cream cone and Jim stared for a long moment.
“Montoya bought me ice cream to cheer me up,” Bruce explained cheerfully. “Yes, I know.”
Jim laughed, shaking his head. “I know we agreed some degree of putting up a playboy persona was necessary but really, Bruce.”
“It’s actually entertaining. I thought all that Alfred said about having fun while pretending to have it was sheer bullshit, but he might have been on to something. By the way, Rachel called. Said she’ll be all tied up in court for at least the rest of the afternoon but she’ll come by and visit you later.”
“That’s nice of her. Now, what is it?”
There was a moment when Bruce’s expression didn’t change, fixed and guileless, then turning into studied surprise, but when Bruce caught Jim’s eye he sighed, shoulders sagging as he gave in. It was both hard and comforting to see; it might not be pleasant to see Bruce in that kind of a mood, but at least he didn’t feel like he needed to pretend anything with Jim.
“It’s not important, and frankly, it’s rather foolish,” Bruce muttered, sitting back down on the bed, left feet tucked under him. He apparently went to the cafeteria barefoot as well; at least he was going to ring up a nice reputation. It will probably be spun into a drug episode, which was going to piss off Rachel and that was always entertaining to watch from a safe distance…
But back to the topic at hand. Jim worked through the sentence and Bruce’s expression, and then the tense conversation with Stephens. “Don’t tell me you’re jealous.”
“No,” Bruce said, too quickly. “Well, not really. And not how you think, I realize that Stephens is straight as an arrow and married, most of the time very happily.”
“Realize and most of the time,” Jim muttered. “You’ve been keeping tabs. Surveillance, too?” He didn’t like the idea. He understood the need Bruce might have for it, but he didn’t like it.
“Yes. And no. I have my eyes out for persons of interest but I haven’t installed any surveillance.” ‘Yet’ was unspoken but plainly heard. “It sounds bad, I know, but I need to know who I can trust.”
“Here’s a novel idea, how about you trust me?” Jim said and regretted it immediately. Not the words as such, but the ghost of anger behind them; he wasn’t sure what meds he was on but they clearly stripped away at least some of his common sense and control over his emotions.
Bruce didn’t move a muscle, didn’t even look away like Jim expected him to. “You know I do.”
“I know,” he agreed, shaking his head again. He did, and Bruce did, but probably not enough, or at least not completely. But more than he would trust anyone else, and that was something. “So, what exactly are you jealous of?”
“Time,” Bruce said with laughter that didn’t sound amused at all. “I’ve lost seven years of knowing you, that’s a lot.”
‘You didn’t have to run,’ Jim didn’t say. Instead, he nodded and reached out, his fingers lightly touching Bruce’s, both hands resting on the covers, barely touching but close enough. “We have time,” he said. “What else?”
There was no way it was all, he thought, and by the way Bruce’s mouth settled into an even tighter line he could tell he wasn’t mistaken.
“It’s not important.”
Jim frowned. Like hell it wasn’t. “I probably can’t beat you up for the information, you know, so you’re going to have to give me more than that voluntarily,” he said calmly.
He could swear, it was like pulling teeth. Only less entertaining.
“He gets to… I don’t know, it’s stupid. He, and Renee and Bullock, everyone, they get to be that part of your life that’s visible and honest. That isn’t hidden from everyone.”
Only Bruce, Jim thought, only Bruce would have deep-seated issues of trust and control and need to keep everything close to the vest, and then sulk about no one knowing.
“I told you it was stupid,” Bruce murmured and looked away this time.
“It is,” Jim agreed and shifted, his fingers closing on Bruce’s wrist, pulling him closer and down, tugging until Bruce lied down next to him, still on the covers but close enough for comfort.
“Thanks,” Bruce said, trying for sarcasm and never quite reaching it.
“You’re welcome. And you’re an idiot. And I told Stephens about you. The relationship part, not the second-career part.”
Bruce twisted his head to look up, his hair tickling Jim’s lips as he moved. “Why would you do that?” he asked, with a curious tone filled with both contentment and worry.
“I get tired of the lies and the hiding too. It’s better than having my life dragged all over the pages of tabloids, but it’s not something I would choose willingly if I didn’t have damn good reasons. And I do have damn good reasons.”
Bruce nodded slowly. “You know, you were going well with the pep talk, but the repetition at the end was unnecessary.”
Jim shrugged. “You’re a bastard. And the morphine, or whatever they have me on, is having a detrimental effect on my rhetoric.”
“Let’s go with that excuse,” Bruce agreed, his fingers absently running over Jim’s chest, right over his heart.
Yes, Jim thought, let’s just go with that.
Rachel came to pick him up from the hospital when he was finally signed out two days later, still to much protest of his attending. Jim wanted Bruce there, and Bruce wanted to be there, but the reality was that there was going to be a lot of press on the site and frankly, they didn’t need any more interest in the situation than Jim had already.
“Try and scowl some more, I want to see if that’s physically possible,” Rachel suggested when they made their way out and he glared at her. “Oh, look, it was possible.”
“I’m all for the freedom of the press,” Jim muttered, “but I’d like to lock some of them up and throw away the key.”
Rachel laughed. She would. “You know, they would let you be if you agreed to a few interviews. It’s the mystery that keeps them coming back.”
“No, thank you.”
“Suit yourself, then, but don’t complain when they write what they want. Incidentally, have you seen the society pages today? You’ve made it to the eligible bachelors’ list in print, not only the webpage edition.”
Rachel smiled, patting Jim’s arm. “Apparently the danger element is exciting. And there’s the hero cop thing. And the…”
“I beg you, Rachel, stop,” he said, shaking his head.
“All I’m saying is, talk to one of them. Vicky Vale isn’t half bad of a writer and she won’t twist your words out of context. And then there’s the guy who does the court stories for the Times, he’s alright. Once you give them something, they should let go. Well, unless you’re Bruce Wayne, of course, but that’s a work hazard. Incidentally, he made the top of the bachelors’ list again. I swear, he’s on it since he became legal.”
Jim frowned. “Ever since? You’d think they’d let go when he was declared dead.”
“You’d think that,” Rachel agreed and stopped right before they left the hospital, turning to stand in front of him, reaching to fix his tie.
“Why do you all keep doing that?”
“Your ties are a travesty, Jim Gordon. Fixing them won’t fix the problem, but maybe it would inspire you to buy something that doesn’t make you look colorblind.”
“Thank you for your kind suggestion. I didn’t realize the importance of accessorizing well when one spends his time chasing criminals.”
Rachel giggled at that, covering her mouth with her hand. “And again I’ll direct you to Bruce for advice. I mean, all black is a tad redundant, but he knows how to accessorize.”
“He tends towards monothematic, though,” he muttered, trying not to laugh. Rachel nodded at her work with some satisfaction and then looked up, searching Jim’s face.
“How do you feel? Ready?”
“For the press? Never. But let’s go.”
It wasn’t half bad. For once they kept their questions to what was relevant to the latest events and the assassination attempt. Apparently Loeb had been putting it up as an example of how scared the criminals were of James Gordon and his amazing unit. His actual words, too. Jim thought it sounded like a rather bad name for a very bad eighties band, but no one asked his opinion on that one.
He gave in and asked Frank from the Gotham Times to set up an interview. He wasn’t sure about Miss Vale; she had seemed too determined to get a Pulitzer sometime soon somehow, but Frank had been on the crime beat for years and Jim didn’t actively hate him, which was saying something.
Rachel drove him to his place and the car didn’t explode on the way, which was a definite improvement over the recent times. He might have made a remark along these lines and she smirked at him.
“See, that’s why I didn’t go for the DA position. All the death threats go to Harvey.”
“I have met women who were as pleased as you are about imminent danger to their boyfriends, but usually it was during a homicide investigation,” he told her pleasantly.
“Harvey can take care of himself.”
He would have to.
“Try and take care of yourself too, Jim,” she said once she pulled over by the building’s entrance. “That one was too close.”
Funny, she wasn’t even the one getting her hair slightly burned in an explosion. “I’ll try.”
“See, you have that look on your face that Bruce gets and I know you’re lying,” she smiled sadly, kissing him on the cheek before he got out of the car.
Once upstairs, Jim discovered that Bruce had, once again, broken in.
“For once and for all, you have the key,” he said and Bruce shrugged.
“Where’s the fun in that? Also, no, I don’t. I had your locks changed while you were in the hospital,” he said and Jim took a moment to inspect them. Indeed, they had been changed into similar-looking but infinitely more secure locks. “Don’t have the keys to those yet.”
“Apparently you don’t need one,” Jim muttered. “Don’t think that if you broke in, anyone else could?”
“Not many people are as good as I am,” Bruce said without false modesty but without bragging either, a simple statement.
“And that, I suppose, is a good thing,” Jim muttered, leaning into Bruce’s embrace and breathing out slowly. It was good to be home, actually, Bruce’s mouth on his, fingers tugging at his tie. “Seriously,” he mumbled into Bruce’s mouth. “What is it with the ties?”
“I’ve been wondering that myself,” Bruce said, nodding seriously in the way that indicated an incoming punchline. “They’re really fucking ugly. What were you thinking, Jim?”
He sighed, giving in. “Fine, you can buy me new ties and burn all the ones I already own. Deal?”
Bruce shrugged. “I have better ideas for things to do with your ties than burning them,” he offered, the silk of the tie he just took off Jim’s neck slowly closing around his wrist.
“You know, I might see the merits of your idea. Please elaborate on the subject.”
Bruce smiled, before giving Jim a quick searching look, his hand carefully running down Jim’s injured side. “How’s that?”
“Yes, and that four days of falling unconscious all the time was what exactly?”
“Me needing some sleep, probably. Work has been rather demanding lately, and it’s not like I didn’t meet with any demands during my off time either.”
“This better not be a way of you calling me needy.”
Jim laughed, because this was a rather good joke when you thought of it. “Wouldn’t dream of it,” he lied and took on Bruce’s glare with a smile. “So, you want to stand here talking, or do you want to get back to the subject at hand?” he asked, tugging slightly with the hand still wrapped in his own tie.
Bruce’s resolve crumbled, as expected, and he moved, kissing Jim hungrily, already working on pushing both his jacket and shirt off at the same time, which would probably save some time but turned out to be more difficult then it looked.
“There’s this thing called buttons,” Jim muttered. “It’s better with them undone.”
“Smartass,” Bruce said harshly, and well, who needed buttons anyway. If Jim needed them later, he would probably find them all over the floor and under the couch, but he didn’t anticipate this particular need any time soon.
“Was that a complaint? Please file it with my office,” he offered pleasantly, letting himself be guided towards the bedroom. At least Bruce seemed to know where they were going. Jim had discarded his glasses, letting them fall to the couch, and therefore wasn’t entirely sure where they would end up if he was the one to guide the way.
Bruce was true to his word; the tie closed around Jim’s wrists in an expert knot before Jim even fully realized what was going on, and once Bruce gently guided him to the bed, his arms were pulled up, secured to the bedframe. “Jim?” Bruce asked quietly and Jim nodded.
“I’m fine,” he repeated, meaning changed but still true. “Actually, I’m fantastic,” he added, drawing out the last word and Bruce quirked a smile.
“I won’t argue that point,” he said, smirking. He climbed onto bed, straddling Jim’s hips, looking down thoughtfully.
“I’m going to regret asking, but what the hell are you waiting for?” Jim said impatiently, raising his hips just a little.
He was going to regret asking, he could tell.
“Actually, I was waiting for you to ask me nicely to touch you. A little politeness never killed anyone.”
“Politeness maybe didn’t, but I sure as hell might,” Jim rolled his eyes. “Bruce,” he added seriously. “Please.”
“Better, but not enough feeling, I think,” he said, working Jim’s pants undone and then stopping right where it would get actually interesting. “Care to try again?” he added, leaning down, arms on each side of Jim, easily supporting himself as he carried out the conversation, his lips inches away from Jim’s.
“You’re enjoying it way too much,” Jim muttered, but then again, so was he, judging from the obvious; the way he strained against his pants, rock hard already.
“Probably. And I’m about to enjoy it even more,” Bruce offered, his teeth catching Jim’s lower lip, pulling gently before setting into a long and rough kiss, leaving Jim writhing underneath him, his back arching as he strove to bring his dick in contact with Bruce. “Not yet.”
“Does it qualify as torture yet?”
“I haven’t even begun,” Bruce said proudly, crawling lower, his mouth now on Jim’s neck, his tongue sliding down, taking a moment to run over Jim’s pulse point. It was warm and wet and the sound Bruce made, deep in his throat, bordered on obscene, as he bit and sucked on the lower point of Jim’s neck. There was going to be a mark there tomorrow, low enough to be hidden by the collar, to rub against the material for the entire day and remind Jim of this.
“Definitely,” Jim breathed out, trying to calm his frantic heartbeat down, “torture now.”
“Maybe. But you clearly love it.”
That wasn’t an entirely unsound statement.
“Please,” he drawled and could feel Bruce’s smirk against his skin.
“That was nice. Let’s try this,” his mouth closed around Jim’s nipple, sucking gently, and Jim groaned, throwing his head back as he shifted, the knot on his wrists tightening as he pulled on it. “You liked that, didn’t you?” Bruce asked, clearly pleased with himself.
“I swear, if you don’t…” he started but somehow forgot how the rest of the threat was supposed to go as Bruce made his way lower. Jim’s skin was still a little bit sensitive, especially in the places where the bruises still hadn’t healed, down his side; and Bruce kissed his way over them, his tongue both soothing and incredibly vexing.
Few months ago Jim wouldn’t dare to think of any injuries as even remotely attractive, but apparently, things changed.
“You were saying?” Bruce asked pleasantly, laughter in his tone telling Jim that he must have drifted off. Well, who’d keep on to their train of thoughts under the circumstances?
“Just… fuck!” he swore as Bruce’s lips found a particularly sensitive spot on his hipbone and he moved so suddenly the makeshift cuffs pulled on his arms painfully.
“That an order or a general expletive?”
He tried to glare and gave up halfway through. “Bruce. Please,” he said, looking straight into Bruce’s eyes, letting his arms fall freely from the bounds, trying to relax his whole body.
“Yes, now you said it right,” Bruce muttered, fingers grasping Jim’s dick, tightening as he stroked, slowly at first. He moved in sync with his strokes, rubbing himself against Jim’s thigh. Jim wanted to reach out and touch him, but the material around his wrists held.
Normally, he’d work through the bounds in a few seconds; he made a point of learning how to get out of handcuffs; a tie wouldn’t pose much of a problem, but right now he wasn’t able to think straight for even a few seconds at a time, so it wasn’t of much use.
Besides, he didn’t really want to. It was a new thing, certainly, but it wasn’t unwelcome. He probably shouldn’t like it, in his world, bounds and cuffs were for criminals. But frankly, he didn’t care. He might, if it was anyone else but Bruce, but it probably would never be anyone but Bruce, if Jim was lucky. And it was a curious thing; they moves about knee-deep in trust issues and secrets, but this seemed natural, vulnerable but welcomed.
It was just one of those moments that made everything alright.