It'd been well over two years, since the Joker had been captured, thrown into Arkham and since Batman had taken the fall for crimes and murders he never committed. Two years and James Gordon still respected the hell out of that masked vigilante more than he respected anyone else. Hero worship, some might call it, but Gordon knew better – it was more than that. Batman was an ally, a friend, a partner, even in the thick of it all when situations looked dire, they knew they had each other to count on.
Even when Batman was being hunted, they managed a way to keep that partnership alive. And somewhere along the way, they'd managed to clear Batman's name, Gordon still wasn't sure how it happened, but no one questioned it, no one dared to fight it. The city reveled in having their Dark Knight back, not so spotlight, but there in the shadows, watching over them. So, with one less thing weighing on the commissioner's shoulders, Gordon finally thought maybe he'd get some sleep.
But even he knew that sleep was an overrated luxury in his line of work, and had been waiting nearly six months for it to happen that he would get to sleep a full night. And was not so surprised when the phone rang at three am, waking the man from his dreamless slumber. It took Gordon a few seconds to realize it was actually his phone ringing, cellular to be exact, the familiar tinkling heard just lightly over the sound of the beating rain on the window pane just above his head. He reached idly for it, somewhere on the nightstand, usually next to his glasses. Tired fingers stretched awkwardly and finally found the smooth, plastic casing they were looking for, grasping.
Gordon didn't bother with the caller ID, he hit receive and held it to his ear. “Gordon,” he said, groggily.
“Jim, I need your help.” It was Batman, there was only ever one man who could possibly sound that ridiculous and yet so alluring and frightening at the same time.
“Where are you?” He might just regret asking, he knew, but when had Batman ever refused Jim Gordon help when the commissioner needed it? Never. Simply returning the favor. Again.
“Rooftop of third and forth,” came the answer, and very faintly in the background Gordon could hear crying, like a... baby? A child maybe. That couldn't be good.
“On my way,” Gordon muttered into the phone, pressing the end call button. He rubbed his eyes patiently, thumb and forefinger, before rolling out of bed, socked feet hitting the dingy and worn carpeted floor. He'd mean to get them cleaned at some point, but without the kids or Barbara around, he found he didn't care and that time was better spent other ways. Like trying to sleep.
Throwing on a pair of jeans and t-shirt, Gordon found his trench and shoes, sliding into both, and grabbed his keys off the counter by the door. He locked up the house and strolled to his car, vaguely reconsidering going out this time of night when his bed had been warm. But... guilt plagued his thoughts so thoroughly that he just wasn't sure he could leave Batman hanging. Especially with the possibility of a child being involved. Actually, if he wasn't so damn worried about the latter, he might have laughed just to think about Batman with a young child.
Nearing three forty-five by the time he arrived at the aforementioned building, Gordon slammed the car door shut, drizzling rain splattering against his spectacles, as he started for the stairs near the rear of the building. Being commissioner had some perks, keys into various buildings for emergency purposes. Tonight wasn't necessarily one of those times, but... He'd wipe his conscience clean about it later, by himself, when the Bat wasn't looming over him for help.
Help . God, he could only imagine.
Taking the steps three at a time, Gordon made record pace to the roof, pushing the door open, and looking around for a shadow he knew wouldn't be found. “Alright, I'm here. Now where are --” But he was cut off by the wailing of a very small child – infant to be exact – as he would no more than two seconds later find out.
Promptly, in font of him, was a baby (whose gender he couldn't tell) dressed in neutrals of jeans and a black t-shirt, but Gordon guessed boy just on instinct. The infant was clearly distraught, held up by two large, black gloves, jutted forward into Gordon's proximity. The commissioner leaned to the left to look at the man behind the child, raising a brow, and very gently pushed the child back into Batman's large, kevlar enforced arms.
“I'm almost afraid to ask,” he stated patiently, rubbing his forehead with the fingers, free hand on his hip as he paced a small line. Batman looked rather taken back, awkwardly trying to hold the screaming baby, neither of them quite comfortable in this situation.
Silence from the looming shadow told Gordon all he really needed to know right then: that a man who beat criminals to bloody pulps every night had no idea how to take care of a baby. Not surprising, however. Where the child came from could come later, obviously, but right now the older man was compelled to at least get this child off a rainy rooftop and warm.
“Okay, look,” he started, coming to a halt in front of Batman. Gordon adjusted the man's arms into a cradling position, careful of the gauntlets, moving the gloved hands to support the child's body appropriately. “There. See?”
The child stopped wailing.
Gordon shrugged off his jacket and tucked it around the infant tightly, cocooning it into a safe little slumber. He looked up at Batman, a weary smirk on his face, but the look on the other man's face clearly showed that this was not what he had in mind. Smile fading, the commissioner rolled his eyes in exasperation; Batman had expected him to take the baby. Well that was just too damn bad .
“This suits you,” he said, waving a hand between them, the small child was content now, sighing as it snuggled up to the breast plate armor. Batman glowered. “You are a man of many words tonight. Silent treatment? Or am I going to get an explanation of what's going on?” Because that kid is going to be hungry soon, and it's been far too long since I've taken care of an infant.
“His mother dropped and ran,” came the raspy explanation, a bit of an emotional squeeze to the younger man's voice, which cause Gordon's sturdy front to falter crack. “He's my son.”
“C'mon, let's get him to my car.” God dammit, Bruce...
If looks could kill, Gordon was sure that Alfred's was up there on the most wanted list. The usually dignified gentleman's gentleman, had a look of complete dismay when the baby was brought in, cradled, this time, in the commissioner's arms, since Bruce was changing out of the suit in the other room. It wasn't as though Alfred would turn the child away or not help the billionaire, it was that – from a father's point of view – he was a slightly disappointed. However, neither of them had heard Bruce's side of the story yet, or to whom the child came from.
Gordon merely shrugged, the sleeping child peacefully content in the crook of his arms. When Bruce finally entered, the billionaire put a hand up to stop the two men from giving him accusing glares. Dressed now in just sweats and t-shirt, Bruce eyed the baby with what seemed to be renewed focus, and sense of being. But he made no movement toward Gordon to take the infant, which only made the commissioner glower at him in pending resentment.
“Let me explain,” Bruce started, looking to Alfred first. “You might remember when I was gone for a few months last year? Cleaning up the ordeal with the League of Shadows and Ra's al Ghul's daughter? Well...” He gestured to the baby, as if it should be perfectly clear.
Gordon just stared at Bruce like he was some alien. Alfred raised a brow, but seemed less than surprised and the tiniest bit less upset. The elder gentleman sighed, defeated, looking over the baby once more with what seemed to be, as well, a renewed set of eyes.
“I shall run to the market and pick up some formula and diapers. I trust the two of you will no doubt be able to tend to the infant in my absence?”
“Of course, Alfred. Thank you,” Bruce replied, much to Gordon's surprise. This was not what he had signed on for tonight. It was nearing five in the morning, he had to work at eight. Gordon motioned the baby toward the billionaire, tilting his eyebrows up knowingly. Bruce hesitated, the look that had been on Batman's face the first time was ever present again, and the older man sighed.
“Fine, at least tell me where to put him down. I'm not holding him forever while he sleeps.”
Another raised eyebrow from the commissioner.
Bruce shrugged, innocently, unsure; plain to see he no common sense with children, let alone babies. Gordon racked his brain quickly, taking long strides to the guest room down stairs, careful to only put the lights on dim with his elbow – like he did this all the time – and then gently placed the sleeping child down on the bed, curled on his side. The infant stirred, but a few pats on the back and he was out again. Taking a few pillows, Gordon corned off the child in the middle of the bed, so he couldn't roll off.
“You're great with kids,” came a whisper from behind him. Gordon turned, hands on hips, lips placed into a perfectly thin line as he stared at the billionaire. He pushed Bruce out of the room and cracked the door so they could hear the baby if he cried.
“Quiet,” Gordon hissed. “A sleepless baby is not something you want on your hands, Bruce.” Let alone a baby at all. Bruce's life was not the sort that was set up for babies and small children. Or kids at all. “Is the mother coming back?”
“As far as I know.” Which wasn't all that reassuring sounding when said by a man who was always confident in his choices and decisions.
“As... far as... you know,” Gordon repeated, lifting his glasses, pinching the bridge of his nose, thinking. “I need coffee.” More like a stiff drink.
“Alfred should have some made,” the billionaire said, casually walking past Gordon, hands in pockets, as if this situation were nothing strange at all. It made Gordon want to smack the younger man on the back of the head, knock some sort of sense into him.
Instead, he wandered after him, deep blue eyes watching him from behind clear lenses, hoping he'd give him something else to go on here. Or at least reassure the commissioner that this child was not sticking around forever. Gordon had been a father once already, and he wasn't planning to take care of kid again until he was a grandfather, and even that was a far cry off. He hoped. Feeling stuck between too old to care for a baby and not old enough for grandchildren felt like the worst thing ever sometimes.
“Wonderful,” he murmured as they entered the kitchen, knowing the layout by heart now, he grabbed two mugs off the top shelf and poured them both cups of pure black coffee. Neither of them took anything in it, there was no point when Alfred made coffee; nothing but the best.
Bruce had his elbows on the breakfast bar counter, opposite of Gordon, gazing at him with a slight, unsettling smirk. The younger man often did this when he found Gordon's disgruntled nature amusing. Having picked up on this quirks over the last few months, he often wished he hadn't been told Bruce was Batman after all – it sure would have made this event right now a lot less annoying and less stressful.
A baby. Bruce Wayne fathered a child with some woman associated with a league Eco-terrorists. Worse yet, daughter of the leader. Well, that just made Gordon want to put his fist through a wall. Or Wayne's face. One of the two. It wasn't rational and obviously Bruce hadn't been rational either when it happened, because he mentioned no connection with the woman still, besides the child. Jealousy doesn't suit you, Jim. No, it really didn't. And if Bruce were connected to the woman somehow still, Gordon knew he couldn't necessarily say anything, or object.
It wasn't like he and Bruce were exclusive anyway, and that was Gordon's fault. He refused to settle, to let Bruce have a claim on him. Just more control he'd have to hand over, not to mention the media if they ever found out...
Easier this way. He'd just keep telling himself that and pretend not to be bothered when Bruce was out every other night with someone new.
“What are you thinking about?” Bruce asked from behind his mug, brows raised inquisitively toward the commissioner, his hazel eyes dark now, less amusement than was there a moment ago. It was if he could sense the mood change in the older man. Gordon never could get away with a foul mood around Bruce.
“That baby,” he answered, solid and sure of himself; he wouldn't let Bruce's analytical gaze taunt him and break down his solid fortress.
“Damian,” Bruce returned, setting his mug down finally, fingers sliding around the rim smoothly. “His name is Damian.”
Gordon sighed, so the kid had a name. At least he was right about it being a boy. “Okay. Damian. What's the plan?”
Bruce seemed to consider, almost unsure of himself as he stared at the steam swirls of his coffee, not looking at Gordon. “I don't have one.” The tone was unsure and insecure sounding – scared. Even Bruce Wayne had breaking points and it was at those points that Gordon often broke, too.
About to go around the counter to drape a much needed arm around the billionaire's shoulders, the sound of crying permitted from the bedroom down the hall. Bruce looked at Gordon in some weary dismay, those tired eyes looking almost lost. He was in over his head and the commissioner knew it; he couldn't just leave Bruce to his own devices – both father and child would suffer.
“I'll go get him,” he said, catching the ding of the elevator that announced Alfred's return. “You help Alfred prepare a bottle. And learn.” He pointed at the billionaire to make his point, he wasn't going to let the younger man get out of this easy, he would learn to take care of this child.
The rest of the morning went fairly well, Bruce learned to make formula, Gordon changed diapers, and in the end Alfred left to run errands, leaving the two men, yet again, alone. It was eight in the morning and the commissioner had already called Gerry to let him know he'd be on call only today, and that something came up. Gordon really hoped Bruce was aware just how much he owed him after this.
Gordon was enjoying a quiet moment while Damian slept, happily fed and changed an hour ago, he was pretty damn sure that he'd be out like a light for a bit longer. Bruce had gone to take a shower, so the commissioner was left to his vices, drinking coffee and staring out over the expanded city view from the penthouse. As much as he wanted to be out on the streets, working, he didn't mind being right here, feeling as though he were watching over it protectively.
He wondered if that's how Bruce felt, often crouching up as high as he could get, watching people from afar, protecting them from a distance. The commissioner had a feeling he'd never really know what it was like, but he did like to imagine, it helped him at least feel like he was more apart of Bruce's life than the man actually let him in on.
Several minutes must have passed as Gordon daydreamed, the silence settling and filling the room, only to be interrupted by a sharp “On my God” from the downstairs bedroom. Overreacting? Possibly, but the older man slid off the stool anyway and trotted down the hall, hands in his pockets. He peeked his head into the bedroom to see what the fuss was all about.
Much to his surprise, not an overreaction at all.
Bruce stood with the baby held out at arms length, the five month old looking around in a daze, unaware and confused, diaper drooping off in a messy, poopy disaster. The look on Bruce's face was priceless: horror stricken with disbelief and disgust, which must have been something, because Gordon was damn sure the man had seen far worse than a blown out diaper.
The older man covered the bottom part of his face with his hand, trying to hide the smirk forming there, amused. If only he knew how to use the camera on his phone, this would be held over Bruce's head for months to come. Unfortunately, Gordon didn't know how and he wasn't that cruel. He sighed, and dropped his hands finally, seeing as the look on Bruce's face wasn't changing and he honestly did need some help.
“You look a little tied up, Mister Wayne,” Gordon teased, leveling Bruce with a knowing gaze before going into the bathroom to start warm running water in the bathtub, leaving it unplugged for now. The infant had made a huge mess all over himself and there was really only one way to clean that up.
Returning, Gordon took the baby from Bruce, holding him by the ribcage with large hands. “You get to do the dirty work. Remove the diaper and find some wipes to get most of this off.”
Bruce just stared, taken back and and almost looked offended. Gordon leveled him with yet a nother glare, but this time it suggested he was not kidding. Bruce cleared his throat, nodding, brows raised in understanding, and wandered off to find the wipes Alfred bought. He returned with the whole container, a few in hand. Carefully, Bruce removed the diaper and tossed it into the garbage near by and with expert precision began to clean off Damian's butt and legs with the wipes. Gordon couldn't help but notice the focus the younger man put into this, as if it were some heinous case file that needed special attention.
It was a start. There was hope for Bruce in this after all.
“Good, now take him into the bath and wash him down. I'll be here when you're done.”
“You aren't going to help?” Bruce asked, taking the nearly clean baby from Gordon's into his arms, giving the commissioner one of those pitiful puppy dog looks.
One of these days... “Fine.” Gordon raised his hands in defeat, shooing the other two into the bathroom.
Gently, he knelt beside the tub with Bruce as the younger man held the baby up, and Jim washed him with a cloth, making sure to get all the poop and grime off. The baby was, fortunately, relaxed and didn't seem to mind the bath at all. Made for an easier time all around, and when they were done, Bruce had the baby cradled in his arms, wrapped in warm, clean white towel. Gordon looked at them both a moment, vague memories of his own two children as babies rolling through his mind. He really did miss those days tremendously.
Shaking the thought off, he gestured Bruce into the bedroom again. The billionaire placed the baby down on the bed, unwrapping his small body from the towel, “So, uhm, you want to... put the diaper on, Jim?” he asked, looking up and over at the commissioner with the same expression that had gotten the older man to help out with the bath.
This time, however, Gordon would not be as easily persuaded. “Oh, no. That one is all you.” He bent and pulled a diaper from the bag on the side of the bed and tossed it over to the billionaire. Bruce caught it and stared at it for a good long minute, trying to figure out how it worked. Alfred and Gordon had done all the diaper changes last night while Bruce failed to watch and learn.
Gordon sat down on the edge of the bed, watching him carefully as Bruce turned the diaper over and over in his hands as if it were a mechanical item he could easily figure out if given enough time. Though if he took too long... Gordon thoughts were quickly interrupted by the very thing he had worried about – Damian had gotten too cold. He peed a perfectly straight line all over Bruce. The younger man looked abashed and surprised at the same time, merely standing there until the stream died down, t-shirt soaked.
“Well. Welcome to fatherhood, part two,” Gordon mused, taking the diaper and turning it in the right direction, sides folded out. “This under his bottom, fold up, tape shut with the provided adhesives.”
Bruce did as instructed, finally getting Damian all diapered up again and happy. Unfortunately, the daddy was not quite so, as he was still covered in a piss soaked t-shirt.
“I'll take him. Go change,” Gordon said, reaching to lift the little one into his arms. Bruce flashed him a grateful smile, peeling the shirt off his back as he exited the room. Gordon's eyes followed after, only to meet Alfred's, who was standing in the door way with a pleasant and appeased arrogance about him. “Been there long?”
“Oh, long enough, I assure you,” the proper man answered. “I did wonder how long it would take you to step in for him. Glad to see you did not.”
“He has to learn,” Gordon shrugged, holding the baby to his shoulder protectively. Alfred gave a solemn, knowing nod and left, mentioning something about lunch.
As much as the commissioner liked to play house (though not really), he had to leave for a few hours to check on a bank robbery case with Gerry and Renee, leaving Bruce and the baby in Alfred's more than capable hands. Less than a day had passed already, and the commissioner was already worried about – as he kept telling himself not to call it – his little family back at the penthouse. Oh, since when was Bruce even family? Since now?
Right. That whole attachment thing he tried to forget about ever having again after Barbara left. The older man really should know better, but the linger thought was still very present in his mind throughout the whole afternoon. So much, in fact, that by the time he got back to the penthouse, he was excited to see Bruce and little Damian.
He stepped out of the elevator, glancing around the all too quiet penthouse, hands in his pockets, searching. In the kitchen, Alfred was preparing supper and gently motioned to the bedroom down the hall. Gordon nodded, and silently made his way down there, slipping his shoes off by the door before entering the –all too lavish for a baby – bedroom.
Passed out in the middle of the bed was Bruce, empty bottle to his right, and a sleeping Damian rested on his chest, arms and legs spread out on either side. Bruce's arm was around protectively around the baby, holding him in one place, as if afraid he might fall. All at once, it melted Gordon's heart and he kicked himself for coming back at all. This was the beginning, he knew, of the biggest attachment for himself and for Bruce.
Shrugging off his jacket, Gordon climbed onto the bed carefully, moving the bottle to the nightstand, and then lying down on his right side, head in hand, watching the two sleep. Bruce looked serene and peaceful, something the commissioner couldn't say he often saw, if ever. Maybe a child was what he needed in his life, a balance of emotions, something to think about every night before heading out, to come home to; a goal and a promise. Secretly, Gordon hoped the mother never returned.
Over the next few days, Gordon was in and out of the Wayne penthouse to check on the two, staying when he could, and generally being very appeased to see that Bruce had taken to fatherhood rather well. The billionaire had been changing diapers expertly, feeding the baby on schedule, bathing him... it was a little surreal, but endearing nonetheless. Even Alfred thought so, the elder gentleman having grown accustom to the idea, and was more than pleasant to the idea of having a child around the house.
However, a week or so in, Gordon arrived late, careful to be quite since the baby was put on a strict sleeping schedule. He tip toed in, shoes off, and glanced around. Quiet as it was for the time of night, something felt amiss. Usually Bruce was buzzing around, getting ready for patrol while Alfred made coffee for the evening and folded the extra laundry the baby had surprisingly come equipped with.
But none of that was present that evening.
Furrowing his brow, Gordon wandered down the hall toward the spare bedroom, peeking in just a little so he wouldn't wake the baby, but was surprised to find the light on and the small crib that had been bought was torn down in pieces. A hand landed on his shoulder, and Gordon turned, now faced with Alfred, who gave him a knowing and very distraught look.
Oh , he thought. The mother had returned then.
“Where is he? Where's Bruce?” Gordon asked, head canted slightly with worry, a few strands of his light brown, graying hair fell into his eyes.
Standing in the rain for nearly three hours, Jim Gordon finally turned the signal off. Bruce – Batman – wasn't coming. He had hoped the easiest way to get a hold of him would be by phone, but he wasn't answering that either. The signal was a clear and clever last resort, or so he thought, but if the dark souled man didn't want to be bothered, he wasn't going to answer. Gordon couldn't blame him, because he'd done the same thing for a few days after Barbara packed up and took the kids with her. He didn't want to talk about it, he didn't want sympathy, he just wanted to move on.
The sound of scraping boots brought the commissioner's attention out of his own thoughts, looking up at ledge of the rooftop, seeing the faint and familiar outline. Gordon took a drag of his cigarette, wandering over as nonchalant as he could, not to seem pushy – not yet at least.
“Busy night?” he asked, keeping the topic off Damian; if Bruce wanted to bring it up, he would.
“No more than usual,” was the raspy answer, cold and dark, maybe even a little hurt. Gordon knew from what the billionaire went through in his past, that losing people was hardest for him, an issue he had with trust among other things. But at least this person hadn't died, just taken away for the time being. There was always a chance Bruce would see his son again.
“Sorry to drag you away, then.” He tossed the cigarette on the ground and snubbed it out with the toe of his shoe, watching the smoke die out slowly. The silence between when was unsettling, but most things were with Batman, despite knowing who it was underneath.
And when Gordon looked up again, the man was gone, not even a shadow left in his wake.
“Well, at least things are back to normal.”