Chapter 1: One
It was true that the Gordon household had it's ups and downs, leaving Jim and Barbara often fighting over the stupidest incidences, mainly having to do with Batman and late nights at the office. Barbara had grown accustomed to Jim's absences since his promotion four year prior. He had a job to do, and protecting Gotham was top priority. She stopped trying to convince him that his family came first a long time ago. His argument was always that if he protected Gotham, then he was protecting his family. How could she honestly compete with that?
At least he took a day off on the weekends to spend with Jimmy and Babs, catching up on what was happening in school and their social lives. He and Barbara, however, rarely talked anymore. When he wasn't with the kids he was working from home, on an important call, or having those damned secret meetings with the vigilante that started the whole mess to begin with. Barbara would be lying if she said she wasn't resentful.
The last time she and Jim actually sat down to talk about anything important – or anything at all for that matter – for longer than five minutes was more than six months ago. The most interaction they had was when he came home at two in the morning, buried his face in her neck, tickling her with his mustache, until she woke up enough for them to make love. It was rare, maybe once a week if she was lucky, but at least it showed her that he stilled cared and still wanted her.
Barbara wouldn't say she was unhappy, perhaps not as fulfilled in her life as she thought she would be, but unhappy she was not. Her two kids were growing up fast and Jim's job was taking off and everything that wasn't going wrong was going right.
Until, that was, she started to feel sick more often than not. She never once told Jim about her coughing fits, the blood she was starting to notice now and then when coughed too hard, the breathlessness, and heavy feeling in her chest. She chalked it up to years of smoking. And it was easy to hide from Jim since he was gone most of the time.
When a month passed and she felt no relief, Barbara finally took herself to the doctors for tests. They told her a few days and the results would be back and they would phone her.
It was an unbearable few days, as she tried to busy herself with housework when she wasn't at work, and helping the kids with homework. She was expecting the worst. And when the phone call did come she found she had to find a way to tell her husband, a man who was never there and she wasn't sure he would even care enough to be sympathetic with her.
But, of course he would. It was Jim – her husband. He was always there when she needed him the most. She picked up the phone and dialed his cellphone number. It was important she have him home this evening, so they could talk about this when the kids went to bed. Face-to-face, nothing else would really do.
The line rang and Jim answered; “Hi, sweetheart.” His voice was soft and caring. She didn't usually call during the day, he was always busy and never had a lot of time. He sounded happy to hear her voice, though.
“Jim, are you able to get tonight off?” she asked, trying to keep the shake from her voice.
There was a brief pause, as if he had heard her slight tremor. “Barbara, is everything okay?”
“No. We really need to talk.”
Gordon walked through the front door of their home at exactly nine that evening, just as Babs and Jimmy were headed to bed. He tucked them both in, talked about their days, and then headed back to the kitchen where Barbara was making a fresh pot of coffee. He watched as her hands trembled slightly with the two mugs she placed on the counter. Gordon wasn't sure exactly what was happening, if something went wrong or if Barbara was just finally done dealing with his absences and wanted to leave.
He had a feeling the latter wasn't so.
Walking up behind her he placed his hands on her hips and pulled her to him, arms falling around her waist into a warm hug. He nuzzled her his nose into her ear softly and she leaned her head into his. She turned around in his arms, sighing heavily as she placed both hands on his chest, fixing his tie and smoothing it down. She looked at him, sadly and Gordon began to worry. She wasn't going to leave him, but whatever she had to talk about wasn't going to be easy to hear either.
“Jim, I haven't been forthright with you on something, and it was only because I wasn't worried about it until now,” she started to explain. She took a deep breath. “For a few months now I've been getting very sick, coughing a lot. Even as much as coughing up blood. I went to the doctor the other day, finally.” She paused and Gordon looked at her expectantly, he could already hear the words before she said them. “I have lung cancer.”
Gordon let out the breath he forgot he was holding, a jagged sigh that made his chest fill with pain. He pulled Barbara a little closer to him, resting his forehead against hers. “How bad? Is it... treatable?”
“They want to try chemotherapy, but the Doctor isn't sure it will work. The cancer is pretty advanced, we might not have caught it soon enough.” Barbara leaned her head forward against his, tears welling up in her eyes. He brought his hands to her face, cupping her cheeks in his palms, stroking her jawline softly.
“We'll get you whatever treatment and doctors will help. I am going to be here for you, Barb. I promise, you will not do this alone,” Gordon said, kissing her lips softly. He knew he would have to do it, and that the consequences and the feelings of those he worked with were going to severely hurt. But this was his wife, his life and the very reason for doing everything he did for Gotham.
The next morning Gordon walked into the Mayor's office, badge in hand along with his gun. Anthony Garcia looked him over once before gesturing to the seat across from his desk. Gordon took the seat, laying his pistol and badge down on the desk in front of him. Garcia looked at him pointedly.
“I'm not sure I really want to know what this is about,” Garcia said, refusing to pick up either item Gordon placed on the desk.
“I'm resigning. I'm not going to have the time to do this job properly,” Gordon explained, sighing. “I just found out my wife has cancer and I need to be there for her.”
Garcia nodded, understandingly. “Of course. I hope she pulls through it, Jim. You'll be welcomed back when she does. You're the best Commissioner Gotham's had in years.”
Gordon stood as Garcia did the same and they shook hands. Gordon nodded again, a grim smile on his face. It would only be a matter of time before everyone at the precinct heard of his resignation, and even less time before Batman found out.
The vigilante was not going to take this well.
Gordon and Barbara both smoked, and it was obviously the main reason Barbara had gotten lung cancer. He knew he didn't have to give up smoking, but he would do it for her. The minute he got home that day from City Hall, he threw the last of their packs away and didn't look back. Barbara smiled at him, it was a weak attempt at making him feel better about the situation.
They had decided to wait and see if the chemotherapy was going to work before telling either Babs or Jimmy about their mother's illness. Bad idea to hide it or not, they didn't want to distract the kids from their school work, it was almost the end of the school year and there was no need to keep them from finishing strong.
Barbara moved from the table. “I'm going to lay down for a bit,” she said weakly, squeezing Gordon's shoulder as she walked past him to their bedroom. He stood, checking the time on his wrist watch. It a little after eight in the evening, Babs and Jimmy were in their rooms finishing some homework. Gordon decided he needed some air, some space to think.
He walked out the front door, closing it behind him. The night air was thick with the beginnings of summer setting in. This was the time he would usually have a cigarette, to inhale the taste and think out all the worries he had. He often found himself doing this early in the morning, coming home and having his last drag before heading to bed. Usually it was done while talking to Batman, sometimes about a case, sometimes about the Gordon's family.
But tonight, it was just Gordon and his empty hands fishing in his jean pockets for something to fiddle with, to keep his fingers busy. It would be a long road to being smoke-free, but his intentions were good and he wasn't going to slide off track; he made a promose Barbara and by God he was going to keep it.
“There's a rumor circling Gotham that the Commissioner has stepped down,” came a deep rasp from the rafters to Gordon's left. He looked up slowly, giving his head a slight nod in the vigilante's direction.
“Did what I had to do,” Gordon said matter-of-factly. He didn't look the Bat in the eye because he knew the steady gaze by heart. “Barbara needs me here and supporting the city and her would just not work out. I had to make a choice.”
Batman didn't say anything, he simply looked at Gordon, expecting a better answer, something more detailed. Gordon finally looked up at the other man, if he could even be called that, and saw the betrayal in his eyes. Gordon sighed and walked towards the rafters so he wouldn't need to raise his voice, last thing he needed was someone over hearing.
“She's sick. Lung cancer,” Gordon stated sadly. He leaned against one of the poles, folding his arms over his chest. “You'd do the same thing if you were in my shoes.” As if he had to justify his actions to Batman, but in a way he felt he did. They'd worked together, despite the vigilante's warrant for arrest for killing five people (falsely accused), for nearly four years now and Batman was the closest thing to a friend Gordon had. Well, there was Gerard Stephens, Renee Montoya and Harvey Bullock, but he didn't want to count people from work among his closest companions.
Gordon liked to think that Batman was someone who would be there for him whether he was on the police force or not.
There was silence, a good two minutes worth, and Gordon had to look up to be sure Batman was even still there. He was. He looked at Gordon worriedly, nodding his head that he did understand. At least Gordon had been right about him, that Batman was the kind of “friend” that would be there for him despite not talking his situation over with the Bat first. Of course, Gordon knew Batman was not happy about it, but the vigilante cared enough to push those feeling aside for now. This situation was not expected and Gordon couldn't be made to feel bad for something he had to do.
“If you need anything,” Batman started to say, “let me know.” He tossed down a cell phone, or what looked to be a cell phone. “It calls one number.” Batman held up another phone, indicating that it was would be him Gordon would be calling. Gordon smiled, the first smile he had managed since last night.
He went to thank the Bat, but the split second Gordon had looked down, the other man decided to flee into the shadows. “Thanks,” Gordon whispered anyway, to get the words off his tongue and to feel grateful in his own skin. It was then he began to worry for Batman, still being hunted and with no on in the police department on his side now, the man was completely alone.
No, Jim. Don't worry yourself with him. He'll be fine. Everything will be fine.
Bruce Wayne, a man of pure ignorance to his surroundings, playing the field, throwing money at restaurants and generally being known as an blatant airhead. It was an act, a facade of sorts that he and Alfred had come up with some five years ago now. Sometimes Bruce wished he could push the “other Bruce” out the window and just be himself. But even “himself” was a little daunting these days. He didn't know his left foot from his right when he wasn't in the Batsuit. The suit has become a place of refuge for Bruce after Rachel's untimely death. He didn't want to face the world as Bruce Wayne, so he faced it with fists flying into the jaws of criminals every night. An outlet. A place to stay grounded and not think about how he failed Rachel and Harvey Dent.
How he failed Jim Gordon.
Bruce never spoke of these things, not to Alfred not Lucius Fox... Not to anyone. He kept them bottled up inside, pent up for nights he could just release all his emotions and do some good for the city that had turned it's back on him.
Everything or nothing, and Bruce gave everything.
The problem now was he wasn't sure what he would be able to achieve with Jim Gordon having stepped down from his position as commissioner. It might have been a temporary leave, but it meant that Gotham would have a temporary Commissioner. And Bruce would have no one; not one ally or friend. No one.
And Bruce knew that he couldn't feel anger towards Gordon, because the man had good reason for taking the actions he did and taking a leave. His family – his wife – needed him. Where Bruce couldn't quite relate, having lost his parents when he was nine, he knew that it was a hard decision to chose between the two things that meant the most to Gordon. Gotham would always be there, waiting for the day Gordon returned and ready to haunt his dreams once again. But his wife would not always be there, and Bruce had hacked enough files when he returned home last night, to know.
Barbara Gordon's chemotherapy treatment was a humble approach from her doctors to give her some hope of living through the cancer, even if it was unlikely. She had what was known as stage three lung cancer that had gone detected for too long. The cancer had spread to the lymph nodes surrounding her heart, and there was risk that the cancer could spread even further.
If Bruce felt anything about the situation it was pity for and sympathy for Gordon's two kids. Losing a parent was hard and he knew first hand just how difficult it was going to be on them. He wished there was more he could do, but outside of Batman, Bruce knew nothing of the Gordons and offering money to help for the best procedures would seem all but curious. Not to mention Gordon was a proud man and would never accept charity from a man the likes of Bruce Wayne.
So, there was nothing he could do without drawing unneeded attention to both he and Jim Gordon. But that didn't mean he wouldn't be around to check on them, to be sure things were going well and to see how Gordon was handling everything. With so much stress on the man's shoulders now to take care of his kids, his wife, and run the household, Bruce was sure Gordon was going to run himself ragged. This wasn't like stress from work, this was stress of holding everything the family was made of together.
Bruce had a feeling Gordon was going to need more support than he was letting on and Bruce wasn't sure if he was going to be able to be the one to give it to him. It was one thing to be a loving and semi-decent, caring person as Bruce Wayne, but it was another thing to be that person as Batman.
And Gordon only knew Batman, not Bruce.
Despite it all, Bruce knew he could try to be there for him, in some way or form. Jim Gordon was, after all, the closest thing he had to a friend.
The first doctor's appointment Jim Gordon went to with his wife was more devastating than he thought it would have been. The doctors told Barbara if she had any chance of beating the cancer completely it would be with surgery first and then chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The surgery would be to see how bad the cancer had spread, if any of it could be removed and a catheter placed in the upper cavity of her chest near a larger vein; this would help the rounds of chemotherapy and radiation therapy be a lot less strenuous. Of course, none of it was a promise that any of it would work. Barbara's cancer was worse than they originally assumed and after taking more x-rays, it was obvious the cancer had spreading to both lungs.
What bothered Gordon the most was that neither of them ever caught on to her not feeling well sooner, or getting sick more often. Or least nothing she complained about. Sure, she coughed a lot in the past, but being that they were both smokers it was normal for that to happen. How could they have been so naïve about this? How did they let this happen? How did he let this happen? Gordon knew that if he had spent more time at home, more time with around his family that maybe he would have seen the signs sooner.
Barbara grabbed his arm as they left the doctor's officer after having set an appointment for her surgery. “Don't, Jim. Don't blame yourself. I know that's what you're thinking,” she whispered as she looped her arm in his and rested her head on his shoulder as they walked to the car.
“How can I not blame myself? If I had been more aware I might have noticed the little things,” he whispered back to her, nudging her head with his for a brief moment. It was an awkward walk to the car in the position they were in, but none of it mattered.
They arrived at the car and he opened the door for her, helping her in. She pushed at him to let go and gave him a quick grin. The last few days she insisted that she could still do everything herself, that she didn't feel tired or weak, and that she wanted to be able to do things while she still could. Gordon admired his wife for that, but he couldn't help be feel if he didn't help her – didn't take care of her – then she would only get worse. He knew it was silly to think, but he couldn't quite get it out of his head.
He shut the door behind her and walked around to the other side of the car and got in. He started the car and as they drove off towards home, he wondered just how they were going to tell Jimmy and Barbara. The idea was to not tell them until they knew the chemotherapy was working or not, but it seemed obvious that that notion all together was wrong – their kids deserved to know the truth.
Maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Maybe their children were more mature than they assumed and would be able to handle the news. Even if they weren't, they had to know. Gordon looked over at his wife who was looking at her hands, obviously deep in her own thoughts. He looked back to the road and then sighed.
“How do you think Babs and Jimmy will react?” Gordon asked softly. Barbara didn't move, but he heard her let our a little sigh of her own.
“They're both old enough to understand the issues of life and that bad things happen, Jim. We live in Gotham, they can't not know that that,” Barbara said, her voice was strong as if she had practiced this conversation before. He didn't know what else to say to that, it rested his fears he might have had with his kids, but he was still so scared about their reactions if their mother did die.
Gordon was briefly reminded of another child who had lost his parents in a much more grueling manner: Bruce Wayne. He was about nine or ten when it happened, if Gordon could remember correctly. He remembered the look in Wayne's eyes, the sadness and depression that had started to set in after the shock and realization had passed. He heard stories of Wayne for years after that, how he caused trouble, attempted a lot of daring acts and landed himself in the hospital quite a few times. Even so far as to get thrown out of Princeton and then disappear a few days later to not be seen for seven years. Gordon thought the kid had finally killed himself, done the deed that would take him back to a time when he was happy. Bring him back to his parents.
To everyone's surprise, Wayne showed up seven years later acting as if he had never left and taking control of his father's company. There was no sign of the little boy Gordon had comforted all those years ago. Wayne even managed to burn down Wayne Manor, proving that whatever was left of his parents truly didn't matter. Wayne had not turned out the way Gordon, or anyone else who had watched him for years from afar, would have liked him to.
Gordon didn't want that with his children. He wanted them to remember their mother, if she passed, for who she was and what she did and not mourn the way Wayne had. No one should feel that way.
“They'll be fine, Jim.”
And Barbara was right. Babs cried with her mother, as was expected and Jimmy stood there with his eyes focused on his mother, but said nothing. It was typical, Gordon thought, for a teenage boy to fear emotion, much less show them in front of his family when he was on the verge of proving himself to be a man. Gordon wasn't worried, and even less so when he walked passed his son's room that evening and heard sobbing.
He told Barbara and she had smiled at him warmly. “He wants to be strong for all of us, Jim. I can't blame him for that. Someone needs to be.” She hugged him tightly as they lay in bed together, watching the moonlit shadows wave across the ceiling. “I should tell you something,” she whispered. He held her a little closer, taking her head and rest it on his chest and he relaxed himself into a comfortable position.
“And what is that, sweetheart?” Gordon asked softly, running his fingers through her soft hair.
“I'm not scared of death. I know in the long run, no matter how many surgeries, and no matter how much chemotherapy they try it won't make a difference. They're only buying me a little more time.” Her was strong again, as it had been earlier and Gordon knew she had been thinking about this too for quite some time. His leaned and kissed her forehead softly, not wanting to think about it, but it was looming there and he knew the subject would never be dropped.
“Barbara, please,” he started to say and she placed a hand over his lips, and in the dark he could barely make out her form, but he knew she was crying from the shallow breaths he was hearing. He took her hand into his and kissed it, then moving to her lips and kissing her softly. If she was right, and she wasn't going to live through this, then he would show her that despite all the years he worked late hours, he was here for her and that he loved her.
“Dad?” Babs asked from the kitchen table, stabbing at her eggs. Gordon looked over at her from behind his newspaper, raising an eyebrow.
“What are Mom's chances really? She said they were good, but I'm not stupid, Dad.” Babs asked, putting her fork down and folding her hands in front of her and looking at her father pointedly.
Gordon sighed, putting his newspaper down and copying his daughter's pose. “It's really only a matter of time. The chemotherapy might give her a few more months, but your mother doesn't seem to think it will be much.”
Babs nodded, lowering her eyes back to her food. “Do you think Mom would like to go to the beach today?” Most occasions Gordon would have thought this was a another random idea of Babs, but he could see she just wanted her mother to relax and enjoy what she had left.
Gordon nodded. “I'm sure she would love that, sweetie. Why don't you go see if Jimmy wants to go, too.”
Babs smiled and pushed away from the table, heading towards the bedrooms. Gordon was pretty proud of his children, but he still worried, mostly about Jimmy. He didn't want Jimmy to recluse, to hide his feelings, to hide from everyone. To hide his own pain. If they kept pushing forward and including him, maybe it wouldn't end up that way.
The next few days went by rather slowly. The day approaching for the surgery and Gordon found the family talked less and less about the issue, especially around Jimmy. Gordon didn't mind, he didn't want to think about the consequences and the what-if's. He just wanted to enjoy the time as a family until they had to put everything aside and place all their thoughts and prayers on Barbara. Even an extra month would be better than nothing.
Babs and Jimmy had gotten done with school that week, so now they sat with their father in the waiting room as their mother went in for surgery. Jimmy was playing with his Nintendo DS and Babs was reading a book while curled up in a corner chair. Gordon had out his cell phone and was checking his texts and voice mail messages.
Stephens had left him a message to say that the Mayor appointed Michael Atkins as Commissioner for the time that Gordon was gone. Which, honestly, Gordon didn't know when he would return. Why did he feel he was letting down his team and city? No, it wasn't them he was worried about, it was Batman. The man had said he would be by to check up, but in the last week he hadn't seen nor heard from him, let alone heard of any sightings.
Maybe Batman was getting wise and staying low for a while. Gotham was not a safe place for the vigilante without Gordon there to give him inside intel. Or maybe it was that Batman was angry with him for stepping down and taking a leave without even consulting him first. Doubtful, but possible. Still, he did wish he could at least talk to Batman, have someone else to talk to during this time. He knew that Batman wouldn't give condolences or words he wanted to hear, he would just listen to whatever Gordon wanted to talk about.
But after today, he wasn't sure if he would want to talk at all.
His thoughts drifted back to Barbara and somehow he knew in his heart he needed to be ready to let go. Maybe not today, but soon. He looked over at Jimmy and then to Babs, each in their own little world pretending, just as he was, that nothing was wrong. For a little while longer all three of them could pretend and just be.
Barbara made I through the surgery, however the cancer had spread more than they had anticipated and weren't able to remove anything that would help her live longer. Her only hope now was that the chemotherapy did some good. It made Gordon more regretful of his job, his work, what he thought was his life. But his real life, his family, was falling apart. Jimmy had started to hide from them, going into his room when he had the chance, locking himself in only to come out (rarely at that) for meals. It didn't seem to bug Barbara, she seemed to understand that Jimmy was having a hard time.
Babs however spent every moment she could with her mother, even when her friends called to hang out. Barbara, who had started to go into the hospital once every two weeks for the past month now for her chemotherapy treatments. Babs had told him that her Mother's hair had started to thin out a bit, as she helped her brush it every morning. Thinning wasn't what Gordon would have called that, it was starting to fall out completely, but Barbara didn't seem to notice much. She did however complain that her chest hurt, and that she was constantly tired and fatigued after only being awake a few hours. She could barely walk without being short of breath and it soon got to the point that she didn't go anywhere with out someone helping her.
The worst of the side effects, Gordon noticed, was the random mood swings as the chemicals altered his wife's system. She would snap at him for folding laundry wrong to only cry and apologize later. He didn't once snap back at her; he knew it wasn't her fault.
There was only so much Gordon could do when he wasn't taking Barbara to her doctor's appointments or her therapy sessions.. He cleaned the house, and took care of unfinished business he had been meaning to for a while now. Jimmy was slowly getting worse, even skipping meals. Barbara assure Gordon that the teenage boy just needed some time to find his own way to cope. Still, Gordon found himself worrying more and more. Months went by and he could isolated and stuck, but he wouldn't have had any other way than to be at his wife's side.
It was to the point that one night while Barbara was in their bed and Babs was curled up next to her reading one of their favorite books out loud, that Gordon went out to the front porch to sit and have a moment where he didn't have to think about anyone else. He had been so worried and so wrapped up in everyone else's well being that he often forgot to take a moment for himself. In fact, he was sure he forgot to sleep the night before at all.
They meshed together now and he couldn't really remember if had slept or not.
He sat down on the steps leading down to the sidewalk and watched the beginning of first rain of the fall start to splatter against the sidewalks. He hadn't had a moment like this, a few minutes to himself, in weeks – maybe even months. Since the kids went back to school it was harder to get things done and take care of Barbara.
There was just so much stress. And even this moment felt like it was going to pass too quickly.
“How are things?” rasped a voice from his left. Gordon lifted his head to look at Batman squatted on the railing near the rafters – his usual spot.
Gordon took off his glasses, placing them on the stair next ot him. He rubbed his eyes with his palms. “Fine,” he lied, and he heard Batman make a slight scoffing noise, as if he knew better. “Okay, not fine. Everything is falling apart. I spend so much time taking care of Barb that I have to get everything else done when she and the kids have gone to bed. I'm not even sure what day it is anymore.”
“Thursday,” Batman stated. Gordon watched the figure of Batman shift slightly, as if uneasy. “You should rest, Jim. Get some help.”
“Help? I can't afford to hire anyone. Our families live too far away. Friends are too afraid to come around now, afraid they'll get Barb sick. There is no help.” Gordon held his head in his hands, staring down at the blurry steps below him. Was Batman actually suggesting this? Gordon wanted to be irritated, but the man was just trying to make conversation and offer some advice.
There was a silence, as if Batman was contemplating something. “I'm sorry,” as if those words would make everything better, and really, they didn't. Gordon had heard the phrase one too many times in the past four months, since they found out.
Gordon shook his head. “Don't. Last thing I need is sympathy from a man who dressed up as a giant bat.” He turned his head towards the shadow that was the vigilante, but found that he had left. Typical and perfectly normal. At least somethings hadn't changed.
That was the only time he saw Batman during the first few months of Barbara's treatments. Christmas had come up on them rather quick, and the kids understood that it would be a very light Christmas due to them not having too much money. They were living off Gordon's family leave income and what Barbara was getting from disability at her part time job at the law office as secretary, but she wasn't bound to go back. In fact, Gordon was sure she was never going back. The chemotherapy and the few rounds of radiation they had tried only seemed to drag her time out a little further.
Barbara had lost all of her hair, gone to wearing one of those scarves to keep her head warm. She spent most of the time on the couch in the living room reading or snuggling with Gordon, because that was what she wanted. He wasn't about to deny her anything. They both knew that the chemotherapy wasn't doing any good, it had prolonged her health for an inevitable amount of time. When did they say it was enough and let be, be?
They really let the doctors decide there. So far, the doctors seemed to think that it would still work, that her body could fight it off. But Barbara knew better, knew her body was slowly taking a turn and the chemicals weren't really making anything better.
At least they would have Christmas.
Christmas evening Barbara went to bed early, Babs was cleaning up from dinner and Jimmy had stowed himself away in his room with all his new video games. The teenage boy was still hiding from them, more so than ever now. He rarely talked, often went to friends' houses when he wasn't at school and avoided his mother as if she was a bad plague. Gordon wanted to slap some sense into his son, but Barbara reassured him that she was fine with it, that Jimmy really just needed to deal with things on his own terms.
But what happened when his mother did die, because that was inevitable now, and he never got to tell her how he felt, or see her one last time or spend the time he should have spent with her? The guilt he knew his son was going to feel would be overwhelming. If he son felt anything. Gordon wasn't sure anymore.
Gordon took a moment and looked at the cell phone Batman had given him over six months ago. He hadn't used, hadn't needed to... Hadn't had the time. It would seem silly to call now and wish the man a Merry Christmas. He put the phone back into his pocket, looking out the window at the houses decorated with bright lights, now covered in a new blanket of snow. He thought maybe Batman would be out tonight, maybe he would come by. But with the snow, he hoped Batman was inside keeping warm instead.
If Batman was still around at all. No one had heard from him. No sightings. Nothing. The city was falling apart again, slowly, and Gordon didn't need to be kept in the loop at the station to know that. The city needed Batman and he wasn't around.
Gordon knew that was his fault. Without an ally, Batman had no way of doing his job efficiently. And Gordon had heard some stories about the new acting Commissioner, Michael Atkins, giving the order to shoot Batman on sight, something that “Gordon should have issued a long time ago”. Rumors were that Atkins would be good for city, but so far, the criminal level was high and Gordon knew it was only a matter of time before the city went under again.
And there was nothing he could do about it.
He stepped out onto the front porch, watching the new flakes of snow fall softly to the ground. His city needed him, but he couldn't give her what she needed. He had priorities and it was an indefinite amount of time until he knew for sure he could go back to his job. He sighed, starting to head back inside when he heard the scuffing of boots on the porch a few feet from him. He looked over, seeing Batman, oddly enough, standing there.
“Sometimes I think you're psychic,” Gordon mumbled, shutting the front door again. Batman shrugged, but didn't move. Gordon stuffed his hands into his pocket to keep them warm. “Merry Christmas.” It did sound weird to say, but it did warrant him a soft smile, if that's what he could call it, from Batman.
“You too,” Batman responded, but his voice wasn't the usual rasp, it was a little lighter today. Another moment passed and Batman actually took a step forward into the porch light and Gordon could actually see his eyes, something that didn't happen often. “How are you holding up?” It was never about the Barbara when he did hear from Batman, it was always about Gordon. Maybe that was because Batman knew like the rest of the family that Barbara's fate was inevitable.
“Tried. Stressed. The usual,” Gordon answered. “It's going to happen soon, I know it is. And I told myself I would be ready, but I don't think I am. I don't want to have to let go.” It was the most he had said to anyone about how he felt. He didn't Barbara because he didn't want her to know that he was weaker than she thought. Batman looked him over sympathetically and after an odd few seconds the Bat placed a gloved hand on Gordon's shoulder and pulled him towards him.
Gordon hadn't expected it. The Bat had pulled Gordon into a hug, awkward and bit uncomfortable with the Kevlar mashing between them. But it was the idea and the notion that caught Gordon's attention and brought his defenses down. He found he didn't care then if Batman saw him cry, because God knew if anyone did see it, why not the man he trusted to protect his own family?
Shortly after the first of the year Barbara was taken into the hospital. The cancer had spread again and the doctors finally gave the okay to take her off the therapy all together. Gordon knew it had been coming, and Barbara seemed at peace with it. Babs spent what time she had after school sitting with her mom before Gordon told her to take her and Jimmy home, do their homework and get to bed. He stayed with his wife and asked the neighbor to keep an eye on the kids while he wasn't there.
The doctors said there were only a few days, if that, left before Barbara passed. They gave her painkillers to ease whatever discomfort she was having, and she spent most of her time sleeping or watching television with Gordon. He didn't mind. They had a few conversations, mostly about the past, their marriage, their weddings, their first dates, when the kids were born. Gordon held himself together the best he could.
And still, through it all, he was so stressed. He would have to plan a funeral, a memorial, file paperwork, figure out how to take care of the kids while going back to work. Why was he thinking about this? Was it normal to think about this while his wife was dying? Denial, maybe? Or just worry. Everything.
Barbara sat up in her hospital bed, watching whatever was on the television while Jim paced the room. They were waiting for Jimmy to be dropped off by his friend's mother, he had called and said he wanted to see her that day. Barbara always knew at some point Jimmy would break and move forward with his feelings. She also knew that he had caused his father a lot of stress over it, but Jim would understand at some point that the teenager just needed his space to figure things out.
The door opened and Jimmy walked in, placing his book bag on the chair. He pulled out a deck of cards and pulled up another chair next to Barbara's side. Jim smiled and left the room. Jimmy shuffled the cards and smiled at her.
“Go fish?” he asked, knowing that that was their favorite game when he was younger. She nodded. It was hard to play with two people, but it didn't really matter. Her son was wanting to spend time with her and she would take what she could get it.
After a minutes of playing, Jimmy looked up at her curiously. “Does it hurt, Mom?”
“Not so much anymore. They're giving me something for it,” she responded, giving him a weak little smile. He continued to look at her with determination on his face.
“Did it hurt before? The treatments that is?” he inquired this time, and she placed her hand of cards down and took a hold of his.
“It didn't really hurt... it was, I can't even explain how it felt. Exhausted and weak. It was all worth it though, to spend just a little more time with you and Babs and your Dad.” She wanted Jimmy to know she wasn't scared now and that she regretted nothing, not even him not really communicating with any of them for six months.
Jimmy lowered his head, shamefully. “I'm sorry.” He sighed and she squeezed his hand. After a few minutes he looked back up at her, tears in his eyes. “Were you scared? Are you scared now?”
“At first, a little, maybe. More scared for you and Babs, leaving you with your Dad. But I think he can handle it.” She took a deep breath, the soreness in her chest felt like a brick. She had pain medication but it didn't always take the complete edge off. “Now? Now I'm just tired and I find it so hard to even move or stay awake most of the time. So, no. I'm not scared, Jimmy. It's been a good experience and I know the rest of you will come off stronger for it as well.”
He nodded and they finished their game silence.
It was at the end of the first week and Gordon was standing in the hall, leaning his head back against the wall with his eyes closed. He was so tired. He hadn't slept, hadn't really in months anyway. He didn't eat, sick with worry and stress. Every part of him ached and his head felt like it was in a deep fog. He thought for sure he would fall asleep right there, waiting on the doctors to check over his wife. She had been breathing unsteadily and they wanted to check her vitals.
Everyone knew she was dying, so why they bothered to worry about such things, Gordon wouldn't know. He thought if Barbara had any say, she would want to go in peace and not hooked to machines. He'd take her out of here if he felt he could handle taking care of her himself for the next however many days she had left. But the truth was he could barely take care of himself, let alone his wife. How pathetic was that?
He heard the rustle of feet pass him and he didn't think about it, he was so tired. But when he heard the door of his wife's room open and the voices grow more frantic, he opened his eyes and knew that everything at that moment had changed. Everything slowed and the world around his family finally made the last crash into reality.
Jim Gordon made all the plans himself; the funeral, the memorial, calling of all relatives, paying all the bills and closing accounts. He did everything. By the time the funeral came, he had barely had time to catch up on anything besides the business surrounding his now departed wife. He had no sleep and he was so thin now that even his daughter was trying to push food on him, but it felt so weird to put anything in his mouth, and it made him sick to really think about eating at all.
The funeral was small, he left it that way purposely so that it was close friends and family, and the kids wouldn't have to deal too many people they didn't know offering the same condolences they had kept hearing from everyone over the last seven months. The memorial afterwards had a few more people, mostly co-workers of Barbara and Gordon, and they all just kept crowding him, Babs and Jimmy. Jimmy finally had enough and left. Babs stayed with her Dad, to be sure he would stay sane. She held onto his arm with her hands tightly, staying close.
Gordon was listening to Renee Montoya talk about something to do with the precinct and some loony criminal they were having trouble catching, when Gordon felt an unease in the middle of his chest, a pressure that started to build. He started to feel pain in his back, and he was sure the stress was getting to him. He put a hand to his head as his eye sight started to blur a little, and his head began to feel light. Babs squeezed his arm.
“Dad, you don't look so well. Do you need to sit down?” she asked as a few other people had started to voice their own concern. Gordon went to respond, but the pain from his back had moved to his left arm, and it felt like he was struggling for air when he knew he was breathing fine. He brought his other hands up to either to his own shoulder or chest, he couldn't really tell which, and Babs had helped him to the floor and heard someone yell to call for ambulance. He was fine, right? Of course, a little panic attack was surely all it was.
Except when the pain worsened he was sure it wasn't that panic plaguing him. He focused a little on Babs' blue eyes and he couldn't hear here anymore, but he was sure she was telling him to stay calm. And then everything felt like a swirl of pain in his chest and his vision blacked out.
Chapter 2: Two
Bruce didn't like the new commissioner one bit. Maybe it was his attitude towards Batman, or maybe it was just that the man wasn't Jim Gordon. Of course, that would always be the problem. No one was else was or could ever be Gordon and no one else was as dedicated to saving Gotham as he was. Bruce often found himself – selfishly – wishing that Gordon's wife would die so the man could get back to work and Bruce's own trouble with the police would end.
Of course the moment Bruce heard of Barbara Gordon's passing he immediately regretted all the thoughts he had had. Barbara had been Gordon's wife, the one person he had to share his life with and now she was gone. Bruce knew he could have helped, could have done something, but even all the money in the world couldn't stop cancer. There really was nothing anyone could have done more for Barbara Gordon.
The memorial would have been taking place by then and Bruce had so desperately wanted to do, to give condolences and be there for the family. However, Bruce Wayne had little to no contact with Gordon's personal life and coming forward at such a personal event would only raise suspicion – something Bruce didn't need right now. He'd try to go see the family later that week and see how Gordon was holding up and offer, again, whatever support the older man would need.
It was all he could do and it ate him apart inside to know that he couldn't really do more.
Bruce sat back in his chair, lifting his feet to the desk. He was watching old security footage from bank robberies in the past to keep his mind off Gordon. He had the police scanner on, listening for any activity there might be going on. So far, it was going to be a slow evening.
He sped through some of the footage, watching for things he could take with him the next he heard about another robbery from these particular bank robbers. And as Bruce hit the stop button on the remote he heard an emergency call come in over the scanner. He paused the video, leaning forward to hear it better. A woman dispatcher was calling for all emergency vehicles, including ambulances, to an address Bruce new by heart after many midnight meetings.
Jim Gordon's house.
Listening a little more closely to the scanner, Bruce waited to hear more about the emergency. After a few minutes there was talk of taking Gordon to the hospital. That was all Bruce needed to hear before the panic in his chest worsened. If Bruce played his cards right he could get to hospital as soon as the ambulance arrived.
Alfred close behind him looking rather annoyed that Bruce wasn't giving him an answer to his questions. Bruce was putting on the suit, the sounds of Alfred's voice being drowned out over the sound sliding Kevlar and rubber. Finally Bruce looked at Alfred and the older gentlemen stared him down for an answer once more.
“Master Wayne, what has happened?” the butler asked again, pressingly this time. Bruce picked up the cowl, holding it between two hands, fingers splayed on either side in a fierce grip.
“Emergency at the Gordon household. He's being taken to Gotham General,” Bruce replied as he slipped the cowl over his head, and straddled the Batpod. Alfred looked him over worriedly.
“It's still very light out, are you sure it's wise –” But Alfred was cut off by the roar of the engine and Bruce didn't hear what he had to say next. It was close enough to sun down that it didn't matter, he had to be sure Gordon was okay, that he would be okay. All the thoughts that ran through his head as he raced across Gotham made his head spin, but he kept focused; had to keep focused.
It was five hours before Gordon was let out surgery and placed into his own room. Bruce had staked out across the street on the rooftop of the a business building, waiting. But once he saw that Gordon was out of surgery and safely in his own room, Bruce was over there within seconds.
He was now in the dark room with nothing but the light of the moon outside, staring down into the calm face of Jim Gordon, tubes and wires surrounding the man's small frame, hooked up to every possible machine the hospital had available. Bruce watched the heart monitor; the line moving steadily up and down, reassuringly. At least Gordon was breathing, at least he was alive. Bruce had been able to catch a few conversations here and there, and the diagnosis was that Gordon suffered from a moderate heart attack, and was lucky enough not to need a cardiac bypass surgery.
It was bad enough that they had needed to do some surgery, go in and check things out. With the history of his wife having lung cancer, everyone was playing it safe. Bruce knew though that the heart attack was derived from Gordon not taking care of himself and being overly stressed out for nearly several months. He was a proud man and he rarely took a moment for himself when the rest of the world needed something. He was selfless and Bruce admired him for it.
Bruce watched Gordon for a few minutes longer, steadily grounded to his spot as if afraid he'd actually wake the older man. He wanted so badly to place a bare hand on the man's chest, to feel for himself the beating of his heart – to really know he hadn't lost Gordon yet. Most of all, that his kids would still have their father, at least, to care for them. Those kids did not need to lose another parent, not so soon, not ever.
Inching a few feet closer, Bruce reached out a gloved hand and touched the fingertips on Gordon's left hand. He expected no reaction, but Gordon's finger twitched a bit. No, Jim Gordon wasn't going anywhere.
Bruce sighed and stood at the head of the bed, kneeling down next to Gordon. “I'm so sorry, Jim. I could have done more to help. I should have done more. I...” But the words weren't coming out, and what he wanted to say was that he saw how stressed Gordon was and he had the means to help him but he didn't even try, didn't want to risk anything to ruin his own reputation. His secrets. All of those things seemed so minimal now... he should have risked it, should have offered the help – something.
Taking a deep breath, Bruce unsnapped the cowl from the base of the suit, pulling it over his head and placed it on the floor. He was on his knees now, about head height with the bed. He removed his gloves, throwing them down next to the cowl. He then slowly slipped his fingers around Gordon's left hand and held it tightly. He had taken advantage of Gordon's friendship – his loyalty – and in turn didn't give enough back. And Bruce knew he had more than enough to give.
This was his fault. Gordon was here because of him, because he could have helped.
Bruce dropped his head towards the bed, his forehead resting on their two entwined hands. Bruce sighed, listening to the heart monitor slowly beep its rhythm, slowly feeling his own heart sync up with it. He just wished that he had a moment where he could tell Gordon that his friendship was everything to him, that from the moment Bruce met him when he was nine years old he knew Gordon was one of those people the world couldn't live without.
But Bruce couldn't tell him those things and sentiments from Batman were unlikely in the future.
Gordon's hand moved suddenly, his body twitched and Bruce felt his own limbs freeze on the spot, lifting his head just slightly to look at the older man. In the moonlight he could Gordon's pale blue eyes watching him hazily. Bruce knew for a fact that Gordon's eye sight was terrible, there were no worries on him recognizing him without the cowl on. But still, there was a curious gaze on his face, along with some confusion.
“Jim...” Bruce found himself saying, the rasp of his voice deeper than he intended. Gordon blinked a few times, taking a deep breath, as if to try and grasp his bearings. Bruce removed his hand from Gordon's, but the man reached out and took it back, as if he needed to know some one was there.
“Batman?” More confusion in Gordon's voice, but he knew it was him. The hand that had taken Bruce's hand back moved to his face and hair. “You're not wearing your mask.”
“I wasn't expecting you to wake so soon,” Bruce replied, taking Gordon's hand and placing it back down on the bed. Gordon looked at him regretfully. “I came to check on you after I heard.”
“You didn't have to,” Gordon said, coughing slightly and then groaning as he grabbed at his chest. Bruce wanted to comfort him, to tell him it would be fine, but none of that seemed right.
“No, I did.” Bruce bent down and picked up his cowl and gloves. “I'm sure you're children will want to see you.” He placed the cowl on and then slid his hands into each glove. He took one last look at Gordon and made a mental decision that he was going to do what he could to help. Bruce walked towards the door, aware that Gordon had said something else, but Bruce didn't catch it and he wasn't sure he wanted to either.
It seemed odd to Gordon to wake to someone at his bedside that wasn't one of his children. Not wearing his glasses and it being dark didn't help to see the man, all he had seen was a blur of browns and black. He'd had never guessed Batman and brunette, but then again he never guessed anything about Batman. He was glad not to have been able to see, he'd never wanted to know who Batman really was, it never really crossed his mind, and knowing would just make it that much harder to do his job...
Oh, well that was something to consider now, too. Well, not right that minute, but he would have to figure the situation, his health and how his job and family was going to fit into to all of it. That was entirely different situation to think about. What he was really curious about was why Batman had been there are all. Sure, they were friends, pretty close in terms of knowing each other's usual mannerisms, but not close enough to sneak into Gordon's hospital room and be watching him sleep. It seemed... well he couldn't place the word he was looking for. Weird? Creepy? Annoying?
No. Those weren't words you used to describe a friend. But it was definitely something he wasn't expecting. Gordon wondered what made the man feel impelled show his vulnerability, whether Gordon would see him or not. It was risk, anyone could have walked in and seen him. Maybe Batman did care more about Gordon's well-being than he ever thought the vigilante was capable of.
There was a tap at his door followed by an intense flood yellow of light from the hallway. A nurse walked in and looked him over curiously. She turned the light on, stepping over to the bed side and checking the monitor by his head. Gordon merely followed her blurry form, trying not to squint to see her better.
“You're awake a bit sooner than we expected,” She said softly. “How are you feeling?”
Gordon hadn't really thought about how he felt, if anything he was feeling numb with a little ache in his chest; sore. He wasn't sure what he was suppose to feel after a heart attack, as he assumed that's what had happened. He looked at her, well past her since he couldn't quite see clearly, and furrowed his eyebrows.
“Um, okay?” He wasn't sure if she would get that he wasn't even sure himself, but she patted his shoulder, leaving her hand there for a few minutes as she checked his blood pressure.
“You're on some mild pain relievers, Commissioner. Not feeling too much is probably a good sign. If you do start to feel any stabbing or more than mild pain, let me know and we'll up the dose in your IV,” she explained. “It's well after visiting hours, but I know your children are waiting, would you like to see them? Or rest some more?”
Rest? Gordon thought. No he'd rather see his kids, know that they were fine, and have them stop worrying about him. God what they must have been thinking and feeling now, just days after their mother's death. He nodded at the nurse and she left the room. A few minutes later she was replaced by two new figures he assumed to be Jimmy and Babs.
Babs came up to his side, leaning over him and placing his glasses on his face. Now that he could see clearly, he looked up at her and smiled warily. She tipped her head to the side and returned the smile the best she could. She had obviously been crying, her eyes were blood shot and puffed around the edges. She took his hand and squeezed it.
Jimmy was standing at the edge of the bed, hands in his pockets and looking down at his feet. His son had had one moment of breakthrough with his mother before she died and there after he hid away into himself again. This was just one more bad incident to add to his son's worries. Gordon finally caught Jimmy's eye and motioned him to the other side of the bed. Jimmy trudged over, looking down at his dad sadly.
There was silence for a while, Babs kept a hold of Gordon's left hand and Jimmy merely kept his gaze moving around so he didn't have to look his dad in the eye again. There was a lot of pain in the boy's eyes, a lot of betrayal that was misplaced, and Gordon wanted nothing more than to hug his son to him and tell him that everything would be better here on out, that nothing else bad would happen. But it was a promise he couldn't really keep; in Gotham, anything was possible.
Finally Jimmy spoke, his voice sharp through the silence of the room, bleeding over the sounds of the machines around them. “Are you going to be okay, Dad?” There was less worry and more annoyance in Jimmy's voice than Gordon would have preferred, but he couldn't really expect anything else, either.
“Just a heart attack, son. I feel okay and I think I'm going to be just fine,” Gordon answered, watching his sons head nod slowly in acknowledgement. The teen didn't say anything else, keeping eyes on his shoes again. Babs glared over at her brother and Gordon shook his head at her not to be harsh. He finally understood what it was Barbara had tried to tell him about Jimmy, that he wasn't sure how to feel about things and just needed time to process. After all the boy had been through in four year, after being held at gunpoint by a manic Harvey Dent, it was really no surprise.
“You really scared us, Dad,” Babs said softly, sitting down at the side of the bed, keeping a firm hold of Gordon's hand.
Babs sighed after a few moments of what looked to be internal debate going on behind her eyes. “Mrs. Thompson from across the street has offered to come by and clean the house and make food and generally help out where possible. I told her that was fine, but he had it under control.” she paused and looked at her Dad with some understanding. “I know how you are about people snooping around.”
Gordon offered the best smile he muster under in his current situation, which wasn't much. Babs did know him well, and it had always been his thing not to have anyone they didn't know very well in their house to do anything. When they went on vacation and needed someone to water plants, it was always either Stephens or Montoya, and no one else. Gordon reached up his other hand and pulled back down into a hug, kissing her forehead.
“Don't know what I would do without you, sweetheart,” He said softly, and it was the honest truth. Without his kids he would have nothing left.
After a five days in the hospital Gordon was allowed to leave. He expected to hear from Batman again, but it never happened. Maybe he was ashamed of how Gordon woke to him at his bedside, or maybe it was something else all together. He couldn't be sure and he was almost afraid he would never find out.
The doctors told Gordon he needed to reduce the stress in his life, exercise more and eat better. Eating better, easy. Exercising more, okay he could work on that. Reduce stress? Well there was no real way around doing that, his life was about to go into a fit of stress once he went back to his job. Which left Gordon with a few choices, since his doctors and his kids were forcing him to find ways to de-stress. Babs suggested that he take up the neighbor on helping out, but that was completely out of the question. Jimmy had nothing to suggest and only shrugged when asked his opinion. And Gordon's doctor suggested permanent retirement.
He was old enough by now to do that, he'd paid his time to the police force and they could definitely live off his retirement money. If he was asked this two days ago just waking up from surgery he would have said no, because he was aching to get back to work. But now that he had time to rest and actually feel the side effects of his heart attack and surgery, he was leaning more towards retirement. Everything ached, his chest felt like someone strapped a brick to it and it was definitely harder to breath. Even though the doctor said over time he would gain back stamina, it just didn't feel right to put himself back into a position where he wouldn't be able to take care of himself and not stress.
There was a piece of him though that was regretful of the decision. If he did this, if he took this rather selfish step, he would be turning his back on the city, on everything he once held above all else. On Batman. Oh, he knew that Batman was not going to take this well. A temporary leave was one thing, a permanent one was something else. Batman would have no one in the city ever again. Gordon could change that though, Gordon could go talk to Atkins, who would take his place for good, and straighten a few things out. If the man was smart he'd listen to Gordon and know that without Batman the city was doomed for destruction.
It was the most Gordon would be able to do. He had no choice in the matter if he felt like living to see his own grand children.
Gordon finished dressing into the jeans an t-shirt that Babs had brought from home, finding his shoes on the floor, he slipped them on. There was a knock at his door and nurse came in with a odd, curious look on her face. Gordon looked at her when she didn't answer right away, as if to ask what the issue was.
“There's a gentleman here to see you, sir. Uhm, a Mister Bruce Wayne,” she said hesitantly. Now Gordon understood her confusion. Bruce Wayne didn't visit anyone in hospitals, except dying patients in the children's ward to which he usually donated money. Not to mention, he and Bruce Wayne had never talked more than a few minutes in passing, usually in some rather odd circumstances involving either cars crashes, women, or being drunk in public. The last time he actually had any contact with Wayne was over a year ago. So, the question was, what did he want and why was he visiting Gordon at the hospital?
“Send him in, I guess,” Gordon answered, finally allowing his thoughts to rest. The nurse nodded and left the room only to be replaced by a sharply dressed, billionaire playboy. Gordon noted the stylish pin-striped gray suit, shiny black tie with shoes to match. Did Wayne ever do anything casual?
“Commissioner,” Wayne said cheerfully, a smile so bright plastered to his face that Gordon thought he might go blind looking at it. Wayne offered his hand to Gordon, who took it gradually. “Good to see you're doing well.”
Gordon nodded. “It will take a lot more to keep me down,” he found himself saying. For some reason Wayne brought the sarcasm out of him, a snarky attitude he didn't often use. What was it with Wayne and rubbing him the wrong way. “What can I do for you, Mister Wayne?”
“I had heard about all your sad news recently, you'll forgive me for not being on top of this sooner, but I have been so busy with business and vacations that I just now heard,” Wayne still had that smile on his face, and his tone was so self assured sounding that Gordon really did feel like punching him. Who the hell cared about Wayne's party life anyway? “But I wanted to offer first my condolences and second whatever help you might need. Anything, I'll be happy to give it.”
Gordon stared at Wayne as if the man had just punched Gordon in the gut and continued to kick him while he was down. Did the ignorant playboy really think that throwing money at situation would automatically make them better? And what bullshit to offer condolences now, if at all, when the other man hardly cared and had just barely even heard of Gordon's wife's passing. Oh, Wayne had definitely become the person Gordon was so afraid that nine year old would turn in to. Cold, uncaring, oblivious and stupid. Maybe stupid was harsh, but right then Gordon was not in the mood to deal with this.
“I don't what delusions you have, Wayne, but I do not need your help, I do not need your money and I damn well do not need your 'condolences'.” Gordon kept his tone even, but he raised his voice enough to show Wayne that he was obviously not wanted. Wayne just stared back at him, the smile on his face was completely gone and his eyes showed a lot of conflict. Gordon took a step forward and pushed a finger into the man's chest. “You think that everyone will just openly take your charity and the you'll be the city's hero for helping those in need. People will look up to you and you'll take another step up the tabloid ladder. Well here is some news for you: not everyone wants that. Not everyone likes you. To me, you're just some rich kid who took the wrong path after his parents died and instead of dealing with it like normal people, you chose to cover it up with money, booze and women. No, Mister Wayne, I do not want any of your filthy money or anything else you have to offer.”
Wayne didn't say a word. His face went blank and he took a deep breath, staring down at Gordon's finger placed firmly into his chest. “Thank you for your time, Commissioner,” the billionaire said steadily, taking a step back, turning on his heels. He walked out of the room.
Gordon could finally breath again, the hurt and ache in his chest pounding with every beat of his racing heart. He had wanted for so many years to say those words to Wayne and now that he had he felt oddly bad about it. There had been a sadness in Wayne's eyes as Gordon told him off, that showed that just maybe everything Gordon assumed was wrong. But he wasn't wrong, that was who Wayne was, that was who everyone saw. Wasn't it?
“Dad?” Babs called as she walked into the room. “Are you ready to go home?”
Chapter 3: Three
When Gordon had finally made the decision to not go back to work but to retire instead the whole precinct went into an uproar. He had made the announcement in front of everyone, to be sure no one was left to find out from some God-awful rumors. Stephens sighed, Montoya folded her arms over her chest, and Bullock glared at him. The rest of officers had disbanded after shaking Gordon's hand and giving some more unneeded condolences. Gordon found himself left with the three that cared more about what he did than the rest of the police force.
He shrugged at them as they stood in an unbearable silence. He took one deep breath, looking over at the office door that once had his name on it. He would miss this, he would miss every single officer, every detective, every late night run... everything. But there were no regrets; he knew that his choice was the best choice, no matter what anyone said to him after this, no one was going to bring him down.
“We went seven months without you and didn't say a thing. We thought for sure you'd come back,” Montoya said. It was a statement, but her words were almost hurtful, even if she didn't mean it that way. She smiled a little, relaxing her attitude. “It won't be the same here without you.”
Stephens nodded. “Atkins is okay, but he isn't you. You had your heart into this job, he's just here for the paycheck. If you know what I mean.”
Gordon smiled. “I do. I plan to talk to him here a while. There's a few things he ought to know about... Gotham. Things a lot of people don't know.”
“You mean the Bat?” Bullock asked, finally chipping in his voice to the conversation. Gordon looked at him in question. He never once told any of his detectives about his still on-going partnership with Batman; everyone still assumed the vigilante was cop killer and murderer. “Don't think we haven't figured it out. Yeah, we're all be pretty decent detectives, but sometimes you get tips that we shouldn't even know about or could have known about.”
“Why didn't you say something sooner?” Gordon asked, looking over the faces of Montoya and Stephens, who were both nodding an agreement.
Montoya shrugged. “We figured you'd say something when the time came. The three of us never pegged him as a killer anyway. That was too much of a turn around from the Batman we'd all seen before.” So, at least Batman would have some detectives on his side, and not all would be lost. The question would be whether or not Batman trusted the three detectives enough to work with them just as he had worked with Gordon?
“You know, I don't think he's going to take this well,” Stephen's said after they were silent for a few moments. “Bad enough he wouldn't talk to any of us after you went on leave. Not that we can blame him, with Atkins ordering the 'shoot on sight' policy.”
Gordon had almost forgotten about that. Now he'd really need to have that conversation with the new commissioner. Gordon was so afraid for Gotham City if things didn't change. That was when he almost regretted his decision.
Gordon walked to the top of MCU, opening the rooftop door and stepping into the familiar scent of tar, dust and smog – the smells of the city. He stuffed his hands into his coat pockets, walking towards the still smashed Batsignal. Even after four years no one had bothered to clean it, every piece lay shattered just as it were when he first took the ax to it. For a lot of the detectives it was a reminder that Batman was a savage killer, but to Gordon it was reminder of a piece of his life he had to start hiding.
He kicked one of the shattered pieces and stepped over the rest as he looked into the now hollow spotlight, rusted from the winters past. There was no coming back to this after today, no remembering the choices he and Batman had made that night. There was just his children now and focusing on his own health. He couldn't worry about Gotham, or anything that had to do with it. Which was why he was up there to begin with, waiting for Michael Atkins.
The door swung open and a man about Gordon's height with dark skin appeared. He shut the door behind him and walked over to Gordon. Gordon turned around and leaned his back against the broken spotlight and waited for the man to approach him. Atkins held out a hand as he paced to a stop in from of Gordon.
“Jim,” he said confidently, shaking Gordon's hand.
“Mike,” Gordon replied. Atkins peered behind Gordon at the spotlight and down at the broken pieces on the ground.
“I'm going to catch him,” Atkins said sternly and Gordon immediately shook his head at the man.
“No. You won't.” Gordon made it clear in his voice that the other man had no idea what he was doing, that he needed to ask Gordon or he might never know. But he didn't. Gordon sighed and pushed his hands deep into his pockets again. “Look, Mike, there's a lot about that day I never told anyone. The only people who know are my kids, me and Batman. We don't talk about it, any of us. But, I think as the new commissioner it's important you know and understand a few things before you get in over your head.”
Atkins stared at Gordon with a good amount of confusion in his eyes. “What are you trying to tell me?”
“You're going to want Batman on your side. No, you're going to need him on your side. Or this city is going to fall so far out of your grasp that you're going to end up like Loeb,” Gordon explained to the other man. Atkins started to shake his head, moving his hands in a gesture of 'no' and confusion.
“But Batman is a killer –” Atkins began to say, but Gordon quickly placed both hands on the man's shoulders and stared him straight in the eyes.
“That's the story and that's what people believe for the sake of covering up for Dent. You don't tell anyone otherwise. But you know the truth now, and that is Batman didn't kill those people. Dent did. You can chose to take this information and try to form some kind of allegiance with him, or you can not. I'm just giving you a fair warning that Gotham City is falling and you can't just breeze by and expect things to get better. You need him and he's going to need you.”
Bruce found he hated Commissioner Michael Atkins more than he hated most of the criminals in Gotham.
As a habit, Bruce often stopped up on the rooftop of MCU, mostly as a memory these days, but in the past just to see if Gordon was around. He did that this night and he was surprised to see Atkins standing there by the broken flood light. Curiosity got the best of Bruce and landed down in the shadows, sneaking up on the man to see what it was he wanted. Apparently Gordon had retired, which Bruce had not heard about yet, and Atkins was taking his place for good. Gordon had wanted Batman and the new commissioner to be allies, if not partners. Atkins said that Gordon told him about four years ago and everything else.
In the end, Bruce said he would help where needed, but in his heart he knew that Atkins would have to prove himself worthy of his time and effort. This man was not Jim Gordon. Michael Atkins was a police officer that Batman had yet to investigate, to know if he was actually a good cop or not.
But none of that was why Bruce hated him. It was because he was taking Gordon's spot for good. But maybe his anger and hatred was a little misplaced. He should have been mad at Gordon. No, he was mad at Gordon. The older man didn't even talk to him about it, didn't call when he could have to at least let him know... nothing.
It was why Bruce was sitting out on the rafters of the Gordon's porch and waiting. He wasn't sure how often Gordon came out here anymore, if he needed to or not now that Barbara had passed. Bruce hoped he would though, because he had all these words built up in his mind that he wanted to get off his chest.
It didn't help that yesterday Gordon had blown up at him, not when he was Batman, but as Bruce Wayne, the playboy. Bruce thought for sure that Gordon would take some help, but he apparently had been mistaken. Gordon was a proud man and Bruce often – and quite ignorantly – forgot that he didn't taken any kind of charity from anyone.
Just like clockwork – like old times – Gordon walked out the front door at exactly nine in the evening. It was the time the kids went to bed. Gordon had his sweats on, a t-shirt, a robe and slippers. Bruce had never seen him this casual before. Bruce waited for the split second it would take Gordon to notice him there, but it didn't come. The heart attack, apparently, had slowed down whatever reflexes and instincts the man had. Which explained a lot of why he thought he needed to retire.
“When were you going to tell me?” Bruce asks, throwing his voice into a growl. Gordon turned his head at the voice, looking up at Bruce expectantly. Bruce was far from amused, and far from feeling gracious right now. Whether Gordon had just gotten out of the hospital yesterday or not, he had no right to not converse with Batman on his decisions in their city. He was abandoning everything, everyone, Bruce – Batman.
“Now?” Gordon offered, his eyes showing that he was really sorry, that he hadn't really meant to hurt anyone's feelings. But Bruce didn't buy it, he was angry, hurt, and betrayed. Bruce merely stared at the older man and finally Gordon took a few steps towards the railing that Bruce was perched on. “I didn't have a lot of time to decide, I had to make a plan with my doctor and if I wanted to go home. It had to be done before I left.”
“You didn't even talk this over with me,” Bruce said through clenched teeth, trying to keep his voice as low as possible.
“Why would I have needed to? This was my choice. We might be friends, but what I do with my life is none of your concern, especially when it comes to my health. I had to do this. I needed to take the stress out of my life or risk another heart attack.” Gordon's tone went from a friendly and apologetic to a serious, firm one. Bruce didn't like it, he didn't like that everything in his city – with Gordon, just everything – was falling apart around him. He couldn't fix it.
“This city needs you, Jim. Everything we worked so hard to build and fix is going to fall apart with out you. There are other ways to prevent stress at work. You're taking the easy way out and turning your back on everything!” Bruce felt his anger was getting the best of him, and what he really wanted to do was get into Gordon's face push his own thoughts into the man's brain. Gordon couldn't have been thinking right, the heart attack must have made him lose braincells.
Gordon looked at Bruce with a bewildered scoff ready to come out of his mouth. He shook his head. “There are no other ways! I checked all of them! Do you think I wanted it this way? Don't you think if I could have had my position with less responsibility and less stress I would have taken it?” Gordon asked, he was on the verge of yelling, but they both knew that the neighbors didn't need to hear it, and he quickly lowered his tone. “I've done everything I can for this city and now it's up to Commissioner Atkins and you to finish it.”
“Atkins isn't you. He doesn't care about this this city the way you do,” Bruce growled, and then he stood, jumping down next to Gordon, getting right into his face. “The way you did.” And then he took out his grappling hook and shoot it across the street at a tall building and took off. Whatever Gordon was going to say to that, he didn't really want to hear it. There wasn't anything left to be said and Bruce was done feeling as though his best friend had just stabbed him in the back.
Gordon stood outside on the porch a few more minutes even after Batman had left in a his fury of anger. He wasn't sure why he had thought that Batman would have understood, but he did. It made him wonder for a brief minute or two about the man under the cowl and just what things he had gone through in life to feel so insecure about changes in Gotham. Mostly, changes with Gordon. Was the man abandoned as a child? Did he have friends? Mental issues? Gordon would never know, didn't want to know for sure, but the thought stuck with him.
What also stuck with him were the words Batman used. Was Gordon really turning his back on the city by taking an early retirement for his own health? Or was Batman just upset because Gordon hadn't taken the time to talk it over with him first and therefore felt betrayed and said somethings he probably didn't mean? Maybe both. Gordon had started to feel the regret more as the day wore on, but his decision was solid and he wasn't about to change it.
Finally, when it was very apparent the Bat was not coming back, Gordon made his way into the house. He closed the door behind him and walked past the kitchen, flipping the lights off and headed towards his bedroom. He didn't bother with the light, stripping out of his robe and crawled into bed. He took off his glasses and placed them neatly on the nightstand. He then grabbed the pillow from what used to be Barbara's side of the bed and curled up into it on his side. It was his first night at home in their bed without her. Before the funeral and the memorial he slept on the couch, afraid to sleep in a bed they once shared. But now it seemed that the only way to move forward was to push out those fears and sleep.
Gordon started off his mornings now with running. Nothing fast, but a steady paced run that Babs insisted on taking with him. Of course, with Babs going with him it meant they were up at five in the morning. After a week Gordon had become used to it, and he and Babs often stopped at the corner diner for breakfast before heading back home.
They returned home this particular morning with food in hand for Jimmy. It was Saturday and he was actually out of his room before noon. In fact, it wasn't even seven in the morning yet and Jimmy was out in the living room watching cartoons. Babs placed the food down in his lap, messing up his hair with her hands as she walked by. He glared up at her, that brooding little stare he so often gave everyone.
“Aren't you a little old for cartoons,” she teased as she walked down the hallway to the bathroom to shower. Jimmy looked as if he were about to yell a comeback at her but he caught Gordon's eye and shut his mouth.
Gordon raised an eyebrow at him. “You're up early,” he said, not so much a question but stating an obvious. The teen opened the container of food, pancakes, and used the disposable fork to eat them.
“Yeah,” Jimmy replied through a mouthful of food. He turned his attention back to the cartoons. Gordon placed his hands on his hips and glared at his son in concern. It had been two weeks now since their mother died and a little over a week since he'd been back from the hospital. He expected Jimmy to have moved on some, but he still wasn't cooperating. Barbara was so much better with this kids, Gordon thought. He felt so lost without her.
He didn't know how to do the laundry properly, as Babs had to show him how at least three times a week. Apparently he didn't add enough fabric softener to the towels, or rinse the dishes well enough before putting them in the dishwasher. The only thing he did do right was brushing his teeth and taking piss. Apparently. Babs often took over the household chores because he just didn't do them the way “mom used to”. So in the long run he felt like he was in the way when the children were home. When they weren't at home he didn't know what to do with himself. He knew if he touched the chores list Babs would find something wrong with what he'd done later and redo it herself.
This left Gordon feeling useless, regretful even. Maybe he could have kept his job, because he was sure that sitting at home and watching soap operas on television was going to end up being more of hazard for him then being at MCU in an office most of the time doing paperwork. Not that he could change his mind, he'd just have to find some kind of hobby.
“Jimmy,” Gordon said as he walked across the kitchen to the living room. His son didn't even look up. Gordon started to feel that he would need to get someone for his son to talk to, a therapist, or something. But getting the boy to go... well that was going to be a little harder. Gordon wished his son would just open up, talk about it. He didn't want to push him though to do something he wasn't comfortable with, but he didn't want his son to fall into a depression either.
Again, he was reminded of Bruce Wayne. He was not going to let what happened to that boy happen to his son.
Chapter 4: Four
It had been a month since Gordon had his heart attack. He was more bored than ever when the kids were at school and the most he had done each day was either read one of Babs many books, garden, or watch day time television, which proved to be one the worst ideas he usually had. He had taken up going for walks around the neighborhood to keep his mind off everything else. But this, too, proved be the one thing he didn't need to be doing.
The walks usually ended with him wishing he was in his office at Major Crimes signing paperwork and listening to complaints. It would have been better than walking alone and letting his mind drift onto things he shouldn't even be thinking about. For example, the crime rate of the neighborhood, would he be able to defend himself if he were mugged, and why Batman hadn't been by in nearly three weeks. Well that one was simple, the Bat was mad at him for making a decision without talking it over with him first. There was no justifiable reason for Batman to be angry about that though, because in the end it would always be Gordon's decision since it was his life.
But he did understand Batman's annoyance. Gordon knew that realistically he had turned his back on everything he worked so hard for in life. Turned his back on Batman and shoved him out the window. There was no real reason for them to converse anymore, but Gordon still hoped that the Bat would get over it and least drop by now and then for a talk. God knows Gordon needed someone besides himself to talk to.
God, he was so lonely.
Maybe if he walked to the park he could find someone more appealing than his own thoughts to talk to. He glanced down at his watch; Babs would be out soon and Jimmy would be getting done at school in about an hour. The park was right next to the school, he could surprise Jimmy and walk home with him. Of course, that too might not blow over so well, but Gordon had decided just the other day that he needed to start taking charge of the boy and try to pry open his iron defenses.
On occasions Bruce would drop what he was doing and drag Alfred out of the work mode and they would go to lunch together. It was something he started doing a few years ago when he needed sometime to think, and Alfred was very good at helping Bruce sort out his problems – most of the time. So they sat at the diner of Alfred's choice, a small place in the vicinity of Jim Gordon's neighborhood. Bruce had never been to this particular place and as he looked outside, he thought of Gordon and then assumed that Alfred had picked this spot on purpose.
“When did you speak with him last?” Alfred asked through the thick silence between them. He was looking over the menu, and didn't even look up when Bruce's gaze went back to him. Alfred always knew just what it was that was bothering Bruce.
“Three weeks or so,” Bruce answered. He looked down at his own menu, suddenly deciding he wasn't that hungry after all. Alfred peeked out over his menu at Bruce.
“That's quite a long time. Any reason why you haven't been to see him?” Alfred placed down his menu and stared at Bruce with concern. It wasn't like Bruce to avoid people, in fact he usually went out of his way to resolve all conflicts. But this was different.
“It feels wrong. I should feel calm and at ease when I talk to him, but these days if I just think about him I feel so much regret and disappointment.” Bruce folded his hands on table, drawing in his eyebrows a bit as he tried to contemplate how else to explain to Alfred how hurt he really was by Gordon's actions.
“Well, sitting here brooding about it won't change the decision he made. I think if you just accept that he did what was best for himself for once, then you might be able to move forward and talk to him again,” Alfred explained, giving Bruce a very knowing look. Bruce chewed at the inside of his bottom lip nervously. Alfred was usually right, and Bruce had never been steered wrong before.
“I said some harsh things, Alfred. Do you think he would forgive that?” Bruce placed his head in his hands. Bruce was angry at the time, so very upset.
“Jim Gordon is a very reasonable man and if he ever considered you his friend, I'm sure he would be willing to let go of words said in the past.” Alfred smiled at Bruce, reaching over and patting his arm with reassurance. “And I do believe he said some awful things to you as well and you let them slide right off.”
“Yeah,” Bruce said as he thought about what he might say to Gordon that evening. Yes, Gordon had said some things to Bruce, but it wasn't to Batman. But either way, Bruce did just let it slide, he was used to people throwing insults at him that he'd learned to not to let it get to him. Small price to pay for leading two lives.
Bruce could do it, and he would. Why? Because it was Jim Gordon and he was more than just a partner to Bruce, he was his best friend. There was no need to ruin their friendship because of one decision. Bruce would still be there for Gordon when ever he needed Batman.
Bruce and Alfred walked out of the diner and started towards the car. Alfred stopped and looked down the street and Bruce stepped back to see what he was looking at. All Bruce could see were houses and cars and a lot of pavement. Alfred glanced over at Bruce and smiled at him with one of those content little grins he was known for.
“Fresh air sounds nice after a filling meal. How about we go for a walk?” the older gentleman suggested. Bruce hesitated as brought his keys out of his pocket. It was staring to feel like spring and it wasn't too hot and it was too cold; the weather was just right and it had been years since Bruce just took a few moments out of his life to enjoy the littler things around him.
Sometime to not be the facade and just be himself with the last of what family he had left.
“Okay,” Bruce replied. He pushed the keys deep into his pocket and they started their walk. They didn't speak, but listened to the occasional car drive by, the sound of birds chirping near by, and the soft whistling of the wind blowing around them. Bruce felt a sense of calm come over him, as if in this moment nothing would go around and nothing could touch him. He needed this time, and Alfred knew it. Alfred always knew.
Staring down at his feet as they passed a near a park, Bruce heard the sounds of a few teenage boys arguing. He looked up, curiously, to see two boys shoving each other and yelling words Bruce couldn't even understand. He stopped walking and Alfred slowed his pace as well, coming to a stop just paces ahead of Bruce. They looked on at the two boys and Bruce squinted to see them better. One was a dark brown haired kid and the other was a blond boy, both around fifteen if Bruce had to guess.
But it was when Bruce realized who the blond kid was that he stopped himself from starting to walk away. That was Jim Gordon's son, Jimmy. Now, Bruce usually kept to himself with these things, as boys tended to get into fights over stupid reasons and they learned a valuable life lessons from them. But there was something in the look of Jimmy's eyes that told Bruce this was more than just an argument over some girl or self pride. This was out of confusion and anger that was very misplaced.
“Perhaps, Master Wayne, you should split this up before it gets worse?” Alfred suggested as Bruce placed one foot onto the grass to go over there and do just that.
He took the steps in an even, forceful stride. The boys had started to throw punches at each other and Jimmy tackled the other kid to the ground, getting him in a choke hold around the neck with his arm, brining his free hand up, ready to the other boy in the face. Bruce stepped in front of the boys, and they both froze mid fight and looked up at Bruce with wide eyes. Jimmy was only mildly shocked and after a brief moment continued his path and brought his fist down.
But Bruce's hand was there before Jimmy's even had a chance to figure out what happened. His fist made contact with Bruce's palm, and the billionaire shook his head just before pulling Jimmy off the other boy. The brown haired kid got up off the ground and ran. Jimmy started to go after him but Bruce took a hold of his shoulder with a firm grip. Jimmy shrugged the hand off his shoulder and turned to glare at Bruce.
“Why did you stop me?” Jimmy asked angrily, folding his arms over his chest and furrowing his eyebrows. Bruce heaved a big sigh, sliding his hands into his pockets casually.
“I think the better question is why you were fighting to begin with?” Bruce responded, keeping a cool and calm facial expression, not to show much emotion otherwise. He wanted Jimmy to see that he wasn't taking anyone's side here.
“He made a comment about...” Jimmy drifted off and didn't finish, but the anger that was in his eyes was replaced with a great sadness and Bruce didn't need the kid to finish to know the answer. His mother.
“I don't think she would have wanted you to fight over something someone said about her,” Bruce explained. “It doesn't get you anywhere but in trouble. And once you start you can't stop and everything just keeps getting worse until you aren't even sure why you were fighting to begin with. Or how it even started.”
Jimmy's expression went blank and Bruce wondered if the kid even knew who he was. Most people in Gotham knew Bruce's background, but Jimmy wasn't even sixteen yet, he may or may not have known anything about Bruce.
“How do you know?” Jimmy asked after a moment of contemplating.
“I've been there. I never coped well with my parents' death and the only way I found to release all my feelings was to pick fights. But I found out in the long run it didn't help. And its not going to help you either.” Bruce placed a diligent hand on Jimmy's shoulder and bent down to his height. “Have you tried talking to your Dad about it?”
“No,” Jimmy replied quietly. He was looking down at his feet, ashamed and probably a bit embarrassed. He looked back up at Bruce. “I don't think he would really understand. He and Babs were so calm when everything happened to mom.” Ah, Bruce thought. Jimmy had had trouble coping but didn't want to show his feelings to his family because everyone else was taking things in good stride, and he hadn't.
“I think your Dad would understand more than you assume,” Bruce paused, standing back up. “He might have seemed collected on the outside, but he was stressed out than you would know.”
“How do you know?” Jimmy looked up at Bruce curiously. Bruce rubbed at the back of his neck and tried to think of an answer to give, because Bruce Wayne wouldn't have known that about Gordon. He didn't need to think long before Jim Gordon himself walked between the two, staring at Bruce in bewilderment.
Bruce looked back quickly to Alfred, who shrugged. Bruce turned back to Gordon who was questioning Jimmy on what had happened. Bruce didn't feel he was needed there, so he nodded his head at Jimmy and walked back to the concrete path to Alfred's side. They started to walk back towards the diner.
“I wonder if any of that got through to him.” Bruce said when they were far enough away from the park. Alfred smiled at him.
“I'm sure it did. He's seems a lot less stubborn than you were at that age.”
Their walk home was quiet and Jimmy kept to himself, but he seemed a lot less closed up. When they arrived home Jimmy turned to Gordon and looked at him for a few moments and then did something very unexpected, especially of a teenage boy. Jimmy hugged him. It wasn't a a tight one, or something that Gordon would be able to return without the kid closing himself off again, but it was the most he'd gotten in months. Jimmy pulled back and looked his Dad over worriedly.
“I'm sorry, Dad,” Jimmy said and he went into the house without another word. Gordon stayed on the porch for a few more minutes, trying to figure out just what exactly had happened and why Jimmy was sorry.
His son hadn't given him an up front answer about the fight Wayne had pulled him away from, but he assumed it was over something stupid. And whatever Wayne had said to Jimmy definitely seemed to shine some perspective into the teen's life. He had asked Jimmy what Mister Wayne had said and the his son merely shook his head and told him it wasn't important. But it was important, because whatever it was helped Jimmy in some way, if even just a little.
This made Gordon curious about Wayne. First, did he know that Jimmy was Gordon's son? And if so, how? He'd never had personal conversations with Wayne and Gordon had always tried to keep his family out of the newspaper. Second, why was Wayne at the park in Gordon's neighborhood? That was a far cry from the Gotham Ritz. And third, if Wayne did know Jimmy was Gordon's son, why was he being so nice to the teen after everything Gordon had said to the billionaire just over a month ago?
It left Gordon feeling confused. He almost wanted to get in contact with Wayne and ask what he said to his son, but he really wasn't sure how welcome his questions and concerns would be. But, on the other hand he could just apologize and hope that Wayne took it, understanding that when Gordon's yelled at him he had just gone through a lot of stress and Wayne hadn't helped that day.
Gordon decided he'd give it a few days and see if Jimmy still seemed to be less closed off and if that were the case, he would find a way to get a hold of Wayne and ask what he had told Jimmy and if he'd be willing to talk to his son again; if in fact it had helped.
As much as he didn't like Wayne or the way he turned out, this was an odd turning point and made Gordon feel as though he was a it too quick to judge something he knew very little about.
Gordon had taken up at least one hobby, and that was gardening. Babs had suggested it, actually, and even found him some books at the library. He started with flowers and few vegetables, most of which wouldn't bloom or grow for quite some time, but it was a start. He had cleared a place in their back yard for it. When the days got too boring, he just went out there and tended to them and if that didn't need to be done, he just sat on the bench there and enjoyed the quiet of the moment.
There had been a lot of moments in the last month; quiet, lonely and almost desperate. And tonight was no different for Jim Gordon. Usually he took his needed moments out in the front, but he didn't feel like watching the vacant streets for another night. Instead, he sat our on the bench near the garden with nothing by the light from the back porch glowing down on him from behind. There wasn't much out here at night to look at, but it felt serene and calm. And this time for a few moments nothing felt as lonely.
“This is different,” came a familiar rasp from behind him. Gordon didn't even turn his head, there was no need to look. Gordon nodded.
“Keeps me sane at least. Grounded,” Gordon replied. What he wanted to say was that he was lonely, and this was all he had to keep him company while the kids were in school. But why would Batman care about that? He'd probably just note that it was Gordon's own fault for retiring.
Batman didn't speak, but Gordon knew he was still there, lurking behind him in the shadows cast by the lamp light. A few minutes past in an unreal silence before Gordon heard the soft crunch of gravel under boots and then Batman was sitting down next to him on the bench. Gordon looked at him out of the corner of his eye curiously. This was very uncharacteristic of the vigilante.
“I...” Batman started to say and he swiveled on the bench to look at Gordon. “I wanted to apologize. I should have never gotten angry with you for retiring. Your health is much more important to me than anything else. I let my emotions get the best of me and wasn't thinking clearly. I value your friendship Jim, and I don't want to do anything that would jeopardize it.”
Gordon blinked a few times, almost sure he was hallucinating. Batman never apologized, never admitted to being wrong. Gordon wasn't sure how to respond. He was grateful, though, that Batman had come by, he did miss their talks, even if they had been harsh and heartbreaking over the last nine months. That would change again soon, as well. As time passed things would change and their talks would become different. Especially now that Gordon was no longer connected to the GCPD. What would they find to talk about?
“Let's not worry about that,” Gordon said finally. “Let's just move forward.” He watched as Batman gave a nod and they fell back into a silence. It was odd to have the Kevlar and armor clad man sitting with him on a bench in his backyard. Surreal was more like it. But it wasn't that strange, it almost had a realism to it, like it was suppose to be that way and his heart knew it even if his head didn't.
“Things are falling apart, Jim. The city isn't afraid anymore. This new change in leadership with the commissioner is bringing the worst out of people. He doesn't listen.” Batman said, placing his hands on his knees, a sighing. Gordon was sure it was first time he'd ever seen the man show so much emotion in one sitting.
“I figured that would happen,” Gordon replied. “I warned him.” What else was there to say? Did Batman want Gordon to admit that he bored at home and that he wanted to go back? Or was that already perfectly obvious. It hadn't even been a little over a month.
“I can't build this city back up with out you,” Batman whispered roughly. He turned his head to look at Gordon, and in the light Gordon could see that the Bat didn't have dark eyes as he usually thought, but hazel ones. Why hadn't he ever noticed?
Gordon shrugged. “I am sorry, you know.” Gordon placed his hands palms down on the bench on either side of himself, looking away from Batman's steady gaze. Batman copied Gordon and placed his hands down on the bench as well, their finger tips just a few centimeters apart. Gordon looked down at their hands in reflexively. He thought briefly of the moment when he woke in the hospital and Batman was at his side, like a lover lost and confused. How strange...
“I know,” Batman replied. “It's just one more obstacle.”
Chapter 5: Five
Gordon would consider himself a strong person. When his wife died he didn't mourn the way he knew most people should have, instead of took it on himself to stay busy during the days before her funeral and just not think about it. He knew this was one another reason he had his heart attack; the stress, the bottled up emotions. There had no been no time to really let it all sink in and now that he had all the time in the world, he often thought about her in the back of his mind when he wasn't even aware he had been doing so. Sometimes it so prominent that he could have sworn he heard her talking and even answered her.
That was when Gordon knew for sure that he needed to move on. It had only been a month and half – if that – since Barbara passed away. And yet, it felt like it had been years, the way the time passed so slowly around him. He knew that living in the past, expecting her to come home from a long vacation was just damn delusional; but that's how it all felt... like a dream – a nightmare – that had been going on far too long and he was ready to wake.
He was far more disappointed each morning to find that it wasn't just a dream, it was all a reality.
Gordon took all the sheets off the bed, pillowcases and all, and shoved them into the washer. He had held off on washing them, afraid that the last scent of Barbara would be washed away forever, but now he knew that no matter how long he lingered on it, some day her scent would just disappear. Some would say a month wasn't nearly long enough to mourn, but the way Gordon saw it was that he had been mourning since the day Barbara told him she had cancer. He had detached himself a few months in, ready to let go if he had to, even if he wasn't quite ready when it had happened. He was ready to move on, to move forward. That wasn't to say though he would put away every memory of her, just the ones that held him – held the kids – back.
Trinkets, books, unfinished projects she had started and never got around to finishing; he put them all into a box, taped it shut and placed it in the attic. He kept out the pictures, placed them in spots more viewable so that he, Jimmy and Babs could see them daily and just remember. He really hoped that Jimmy would see them often and know that he wasn't the only one that missed her, or grieved when she passed.
Gordon looked over the living room, standing at by the couch. He wasn't much of a decorator, but it didn't look half bad. Babs walked out of her room and down the hall, stopping to look at what Gordon was gazing at. She put her arms around him and hugged him tightly, kissing his cheek.
“It looks good, Dad,” she commented before letting go of him. She walked into the kitchen and started to make breakfast, something usually Gordon did, but he'd let time slip by him this morning. Jimmy trudged down the hall from his room, dressed in what Gordon guessed was the newest fashion for kids his age: skinny, straight legged jeans, a white band t-shirt (of what band he couldn't tell), and a pair of very worn out skater shoes.
“Good morning,” Gordon greeted his son. Jimmy nodded and slid into a chair at the table. It had been a few days since the incident with the other kid in the park and the talk Jimmy had with Wayne; in all, Gordon could have sworn his son was at least a little more open. He was coming to breakfast, eating dinner with them, saying more than three words at one time. Sure it wasn't remarkable, but it was something.
Babs brought over a plate of toast and set it on the table. Jimmy stared at it before grabbing a piece. Babs went back into the kitchen to finish making the eggs. Gordon took a seat next to his son, but didn't bother with the toast. In fact, he wasn't hungry at all. He had an idea, but he wasn't quite sure if it was going to be one that his children, namely Jimmy, would be okay with. It really couldn't hurt to try.
Gordon folded his hands on the table, trying to look as nonchalant as possible. “I was thinking of taking a trip to the cemetery today, drop some flowers off on your mother's grave. I'd be happy for whatever company wanted to come along.” He didn't want to directly ask, because he didn't want to seem as if he was pushing either of his kids into it. Either way, he'd be going, if even as a one last look back at his old life before entering a new one and whatever that may entail.
Babs turned her head from the stove, stirring the scrambled eggs. “I'll go with you. I have a few things I need to tell her,” she said with a smile. Gordon grinned at her; Babs had been the strongest of them all, being there and becoming the woman of house when she didn't need to be. Gordon was sure that when no one was around she grieved and mourned, but she never let anyone think otherwise. She was just like her mother.
Jimmy rolled his eyes at Babs' comment. “She's dead you know, she won't be able to hear you,” he spat back at her, almost angrily. Gordon glared at his son and when Jimmy caught his eyes, he looked down at the toast in hands and said in a smaller, more annoyed voice, “Sorry.”
Babs looked over at Gordon worriedly. She had learned to take things in stride with Jimmy, knowing that he was having a harder time than everyone else. She shrugged her shoulders, taking the eggs off the stove and scraping them into a bowl. She brought the bowl to the table and placed it down in the middle. She served Gordon a plate and then motioned to Jimmy to shook his head, and then plated herself some.
“Well, I guess we'll leave after breakfast then, sweetheart,” Gordon said, assuming Jimmy wasn't going to go since he didn't say a word about it and didn't seem to even want to talk as it was. They finished their breakfast in silence.
Gordon had gone out to start the car and was waiting on Babs. She emerged from the house a few minutes later, in jeans and t-shirt. She slipped into the passenger seat and buckled up. Gordon sighed, almost wishing that Jimmy had been right behind her, but the longer he looked the more he knew that the boy wasn't there. There had to be something Gordon could do...
“At least he ate breakfast with us this morning,” Babs pointed out, aware of what Gordon was thinking. He nodded, putting the car into reverse and backing out the driveway, careful to watch for any stray speeding cars or reckless kids on bicycles, which were often common around their neighborhood, especially on a beautiful Saturday morning.
They got out of the driveway when the front door swung open, slammed shut, and Jimmy ran out. Gordon hit the breaks with his foot and gaped at his son with some disbelief. Jimmy opened the back door and hopped in. Babs turned her head to look at him and gave him one of the sweetest smiles Gordon had ever seen her give anyone.
Gordon didn't say a word and Babs kept whatever cutesy comment she had rolling around in her head to herself.
After a few long moments of silence as they drove, Gordon decided to break the quiet. “So, Babs, your birthday is coming up in a few weeks. Any ideas on what you'd like to do?”
“We don't have to do anything, Dad. Just us as a family would be fine,” Babs said sincerely, and Gordon knew she meant it, but he wasn't going to allow it.
“No, you deserve to have a perfect eighteenth birthday. It's not everyday you get to become a legal adult.” And once he said the words, he found he was probably more scared of them than she probably was. It meant college, it meant she could vote... it meant she wasn't really his little girl anymore.
He watched her shrug out of the conner of his eye. “I don't want a big deal. Maybe a few friends can come for a sleep over?” she asked, and then quickly added, “You can buy a cake if you want, Dad.” Smiling teasingly. It was always his thing to buy them their birthday cakes from the bakery around the corner from the police station – Gordon was convinced they were the best damn cakes he'd ever had.
“Big of you,” Gordon mused with a grin. “And yes, a sleep over is fine.” Jimmy groaned from the backseat, slamming the back of his head against the headrest. “You can go stay at Greg's house if you'd prefer not to be around that night.”
“Yeah, maybe.” Jimmy mumbled, folding his arms over his chest and looking back out the window. They were almost to the cemetery, Gordon could see the black cast-iron gates. There were a lot of cars in the parking lot, Saturdays were the busiest days for visiting. Gordon finally found a spot, and parked.
They all piled out of the car and Babs turned to look at him and sighed. “We forgot to stop for flowers.”
Gordon bared his teeth a little, mentally kicking himself for forgetting. He had been so happy that Jimmy joined them that he damn well forgot. “I'm sure you're mother won't mind if we bring her double the amount next time.” He was looking over all the other cars and how there weren't many spots left and if they went to get flowers they might not get another space to park. Babs caught on and nodded.
“Sure,” she said as she and Jimmy walked up next to their dad.
“Or,” came an overly confident tone from behind them, “You can take a few of mine.” Gordon turned his head first, his eyes met with pair of almost familiar hazel ones, and then he took in the whole picture and realized it must have been a trick of the light. Bruce Wayne stood before them – conveniently enough – holding what looked to be two dozen red roses in his hands. At his side was an older gentlemen that Gordon recognized as Wayne's once guardian, now butler.
“That's really not necessary, “ Gordon started to say, but Wayne was already handing over half the roses to the butler and placing the other half into Babs' arms. She looked down at the perfect red roses and then back to Gordon, shrugging a little.
“Consider it a peace offering for our last meeting, Comm --” Bruce started to say and then stopped himself, the smile sliding off his face. “Forgive me. Mister Gordon.” It sounded weird for Gordon to hear his name like that, it had been years since anyone ever called him Mister; it was either 'Gordon' or 'Commissioner', and sometimes 'Commissioner Gordon'. It seemed Wayne had trouble saying it as well, which seemed odd.
Wayne took the flowers from his butler and then the older gentlemen nodded and walked back to their car. Wayne started up the path towards the grave sites with them. Gordon noted the careful smile he gave Jimmy, and how the teen reacted with a little more confidence; he strengthened his stride and held his head a little higher. So it was Wayne after all that had brought a slightly sunnier side to Gordon's son's life.
Gordon watched Wayne for a few more seconds out of the corner of his eye, seeing – perhaps for the first time – a different man than the one he often saw plastered all over the media. This man was self-assured, walking with confidence and grace. And what struck Gordon as just a bit weird, was the fact that he could hear the scuffle of everyone's shoes on the pavement except for Wayne's. Being light on his feet was one thing, but that was just plain odd, especially in dress shoes. Gordon watched the other man's feet, and was convinced that Wayne must have just had a stealthier way of walking.
They came to the plot where Barbara was buried and Wayne nodded his head but said nothing else as he made his way further into the cemetery. Gordon assumed he was going to visit his own parents' graves, which were a bit further into the heart of the cemetery, a private spot usually. Gordon vaguely remembered visiting there once just weeks after the Wayne's were killed. He sighed as Wayne disappeared over a small hill.
Babs placed the flowers down and was sitting at the headstone whispering something, but Gordon didn't want to intrude, so he and Jimmy kept back a few spaces. Gordon could feel a warm wind pick up around them, the spring air was starting to settle in nicely.
“I'm glad you came,” Gordon whispered to Jimmy, who was looking down at his shoes, scuffing them against the dirt. His son looked up at him, well more like over since it seemed he had grown again. Jimmy didn't say anything, just held Gordon's gaze for a bit, as if assessing him.
“Do you miss her?” Jimmy asked after a few minutes passed, looking back to the gravestone and Babs. Gordon raised his eyebrows in surprise, the question caught him off guard.
“Of course. Everyday,” he answered quietly. Had he ever known Barbara would have gone so soon, he would have tried to spend more time at home. There was no place for regrets now and before she passed she even told him that she forgave him a long time ago for not being around. She understood the reasons, but it didn't make it any better. He'd been so lucky to have her...
“It didn't seem like you'd miss her before she died. But Mister Wayne said that you were stressed out about it. Is that true?” Jimmy asked, a little concerned. Maybe he was asking more of how Wayne would actually have known? And really, Gordon wanted to know that, too. Wayne said himself that day in the hospital that he had just only heard about Barbara's passing a mere days before. So, what gives?
Gordon nodded at his son. “Very. I was worried about your mom, worried about you and Babs, worried about everything there was to worry about. So, yes, I was very stressed.” And it seemed enough of a good answer for Jimmy, as he nodded his had slightly and walked over to the grave and sat down next to Babs, who wrapped her arm around his shoulder. Barely sixteen or not, Jimmy still the little boy Gordon remembered from four years prior, who worshiped Batman and would have done anything to see his name cleared. Those days were gone and Jimmy gave up on that hope a few years back. He didn't even mention Batman anymore.
“You two be okay here for a minute?” Gordon asked, and Babs and Jimmy both nodded at him. Gordon started up the path he saw Wayne take, making his way over the small hill. As he reached the top he could see Wayne in the distance by two gravestones. Gordon walked down the hill and slowly made his way over. Wayne wasn't doing much, if anything at all. He just stood there looking at the flowers he had placed on each grave, head slightly bent.
Gordon stopped just feet from the graves, placing his hands into his pockets. He subtly cleared his throat and Wayne turned around instinctively, head first followed by the rest of his body. Gordon expected one of the those classic cheesy grins from the younger man, but wasn't really disappointed when he didn't get one. Instead, Wayne kept a calm demeanor about him, staying where he was and returning the steady gaze that Gordon was giving him.
“That was a very nice thing you did. The roses I mean,” Gordon said steadily, nodding his head in a slight gesture over the hill to where his children were. Wayne merely offered a small smile, nothing spectacular or overrated, and it almost reminded Gordon of someone he knew. He sighed. “And, for the record, you didn't owe me a peace offering. I... Might have overreacted that day. I was under a lot of stress and I know it doesn't make up for what I said, but –”
Wayne was shaking his head. “I know,” he said. Gordon breathed a sigh of relief, as if he had wanted to apologize for a while, and for the other man to be so calm and forgiving felt oddly chilling. He then thought about what Jimmy had said, about Wayne knowing that Gordon had been stressed out. Maybe he did know, maybe the billionaire knew more than a lot of people assumed he did. Gordon couldn't help but think some of it was an act, but the question there then would be... Why?
“Mister Wayne...” Gordon started to say and the other man brought his eyes to meet Gordon's once more. “Would you consider talking to my son again?” Wayne raised an eyebrow, as if to question the question.
“I'm sorry?” he asked.
“My son, Jimmy. He seemed less...closed-off after talking with you the other day. I think maybe it was something you said to him.” Gordon didn't want to plead or beg, and he hoped to God that Wayne just agreed to do it. At this point Gordon would try anything, even if it meant having to invite Gotham's billionaire Prince over to his house for dinner.
Wayne bit his lip, looking at the ground for a moment, and then back to Gordon. “Okay.”
Gordon and Wayne agreed to that evening, it was bit soon for Gordon but he figured the sooner the better for Jimmy's sake. When he mentioned it to his son, Jimmy didn't seem to care one way or another. Babs had looked at Gordon questionably, a look Barbara most often gave him when he did something she wasn't sure she approved of. Babs didn't say a word about, however, and went about cleaning the house when they got home.
That was when Gordon stopped her. She was half way down the hall to grab the vacuum from the closet, and he stopped behind her to block her path. She looked at him and gestured for him to move and he shook his head.
“Dad?” she asked, a little irritated. He put his hand on the closet door and shut it.
“Babs, let me do this. It's Saturday afternoon. You should be out hanging with your friends. Not here taking care of your Dad and brother and cleaning house. I can take care of this.” He put his hands on her shoulder and gently moved her away from the closet door so she wouldn't attempt to do it.
“But...” She started, but then sighed seeing as Gordon was perfectly stubborn and if she wanted to argue it, he would be glad to keep that up as well. “Fine.” She rolled her eyes at him and he pulled her into a hug and kissed her forehead. She pulled back and went to her room, and a few minutes later he could hear her on the phone calling one of her friends. Good, just as it should be . She might have been nearly eighteen, but he didn't need her growing up any faster than that any time soon.
Jimmy walked down the hall towards Gordon from the kitchen, and then almost did a complete three-sixty turn around when he saw the look on Gordon's face. Gordon shook his head and grabbed his son's shoulder. Jimmy sighed and rolled his eyes expectantly. Jim opened the closet door and pulled out the vacuum.
“Fine,” Jimmy said as he took the handle and went to plug it in. Gordon walked to the kitchen to start cleaning up there. He'd hate for Wayne to get here and be put off by the idea that his family was incapable (however untrue it may have been) of taking care of itself without his wife.
And as Gordon cleaned the kitchen counters he couldn't help but wonder what had come over him to have invited Bruce Wayne over for dinner? And that thought lead to actual dinner, what was he going to make? He just told Babs to go out with friends which meant he was stuck trying to figure out what to cook for a billionaire.
Damn , he really didn't think this through.
Chapter 6: Six
They ended up with Chinese take-out – Jimmy's choice. The dinner, though mostly silent on Jimmy's part, was filled with idle conversion and awkward silences that stretched a good ten minutes or more. Wayne didn't complain once about the food, and if Gordon didn't know any better, he would have thought the man actually ate it more often than he let on. Another little thing he would have never actually guessed about Wayne.
While Gordon cleaned up the kitchen, Jimmy and Wayne went into the living room to talk. Gordon didn't want to butt-in on the conversation, no matter how curious he actually was. They were still talking when Gordon had finished, so, he grabbed his jacket off the coat rack by the front door and slipped outside, but not with noticing the curious glance he got from Wayne.
Gordon wasn't out there to wait on Batman or see if he was there, but mostly just to be out the way. It was a little after eight and he wondered where Babs was. She mentioned going out for coffee with some friends and then to the bookstore. It was her typical outing when she did leave home. He'd have to be sure from now on that she got out more often, her staying at home to take care of him and Jimmy was ridiculous; she needed to have her own time.
Gordon stood on the third step down, one hand on the post of the deck, the other in his pocket. He saw movement across the street, the Thompson's house. Their door swung open and the bird-like face of Mrs. Thompson appeared, carrying a large tray in her hands. Gordon wanted to run back inside, but it was a bit late for that as she was already coming up the driveway. She stood in front of him not more than five seconds later, a sweet little smile on her face, holding the tray out to him.
“I made cookies today. I thought and the kids might like them,” she said cheerfully. “The tray is reusable and there is no need to return it!” Gordon took the tray and nodded at her.
“Well, thank you, that was so nice of you,” he replied, giving her an uneasy smile. She didn't move and he wondered just what it would take to get her to leave. So, he pulled the saran wrap back off the top of the tray, took one of the cookies and ate it. He nodded his head and made the best 'mmm' sound he could gather. “Wonderful,” he said finally when his mouth wasn't full of cookie.
And still the woman didn't leave. It was then that Gordon realized that she must have seen the black Lamborghini parked in their driveway. Gordon sighed, placing the wrap back over the top of the tray. He held up a free hand, gesturing her to wait one moment. Gordon walked back into the house, setting the tray of cookies down on the coffee table in the living room. Jimmy and Wayne both looked at him curiously.
Gordon turned to Jimmy. “Mrs. Thompson,” was all he had to say and Jimmy rolled his eyes.
“Mrs. Thompson?” Wayne asked, curiously. He looked up at Gordon from the chair he was sitting in.
“Our nosy, busy-body neighbor from across the street,” Jimmy explained with an annoyed sigh.
“She saw your car,” Gordon said to Wayne. “And she isn't leaving.”
Wayne grinned, which was more than Gordon would have done in this situation. “Good thing Jimmy and I were just about done.” He winked at Jimmy, a friendly gesture really. Wayne pulled a car from the inside pocket of his suit jacket and handed it to Jimmy. “But if you ever do want to talk, feel free to call me.” And with that Jimmy nodded.
“Thanks,” he said and then he turned to Gordon. “I'm going to go get ready for bed, Dad.” And he walked down the hall.
Gordon looked at Wayne with surprise. “That's more than he usually says to me near bedtime.”
Wayne shrugged, grabbing for the door handle. He walked out on to the porch and greeted Mrs. Thompson with a wide smile and horribly false, cheerful tone. Gordon stood by the door, watching the unreal interaction between the billionaire and his neighbor. Wayne was able to convince her leave, something about having to get home himself and thanking her for the cookies. Wayne then turned to Gordon, one foot on the ground and the other on the last step of the stairs.
“I wouldn't worry about your son,” he said in a careful tone, to make sure that every word was heard. “He just needed someone to talk to, someone who's been there.” And that would be Wayne, wouldn't it? Gordon nodded his head slowly, arms crossed over his chest, but not putting off any certain vibe to Wayne. The younger man returned the nod and then started down the path to the driveway.
“Hey wait!” Gordon called after him, moving down a few steps. Wayne turned around, a smile on his face that looked more real than any other smile Gordon could remember seeing on the man. “Thank you.”
Wayne shook his head, sliding his hands into his pockets. “Don't. You've done enough.” And he rounded the rest of the corner, and seconds later Gordon heard the roar of a car engine and Wayne was gone. Gordon wasn't sure what the billionaire meant, but it itched at the back of his mind; maybe it was code for something, but he couldn't really place it.
Babs pulled up a few minutes later. She walked up the steps and looked at Gordon. “What are you doing out here?”
“I was seeing Mister Wayne out,” he replied, turning to face her.
“And now you are...” She gestured with her hands for him to tell her what it was he was up to. He sighed and leaned his arm against the railing.
“And now I am doing nothing. Is that a problem for you, Miss Gordon?” he teased. Babs smiled slyly at him, narrowed her eyes at him. She put her left hand on the right side of his face and pulled his head towards her, giving him a kiss on the cheek.
“Don't stay up too late, Dad,” she teased back. “And tell him I said 'hi'.” She let go and then walked into the house. If there was anything he was grateful for, it was that Babs had taken the change so well, but she was a lot like her Dad that way. She learned to let go when she had to, before it happened – before it hurt more than she could bare.
“You've got good kids, Jim,” came the familiar rasp that Gordon had been expecting for a few minutes now. He looked over at the railing near the rafters seeing Batman crouched there.
“Yeah,” Gordon agreed, pushing away from the railing and taking a few steps closer to where Batman was on the other side of the porch. “Haven't seen you in a couple days.”
“Some unexpected business came up,” Batman said. Business, Gordon thought. Another piece into the vigilante's real life, no doubt. There was brief moment of silence, usually this was when Batman left, when they ran out of things to talk about. Except he was still there.
“Heard about a string of murders on the news, any leads?” Gordon asked, then feeling rather idiotic for even bringing it up. He had no right to the information, he no right to even question it. He sighed heavily, ready to take it back and apologize, but Batman was smirking at him.
“No leads,” the Bat said roughly. “Of course, it doesn't help that Atkins is putting the entire MCU team on every other case but the murders.”
“Other cases?” Gordon found himself asking again and then mentally slapped himself for it. Batman jumped down onto the porch, landing softly next to Gordon. “Sorry, old habits die hard.”
“You miss it,” Batman stated. He wasn't asking, because he knew Gordon missed it. Batman knew Gordon better than anyone, now. Gordon nodded slightly, afraid to verbally admit it, because then it would be truer than anything else and he wasn't sure he could have that right now. “There's a few robbery cases, nothing to waste an entire crew of detectives on. Mostly houses. Atkins has no sense of what is more important.”
Gordon sighed and leaned over the railing, looking out in the front yard, if it could be called that. “Have you tried talking to him?” Gordon crooked his head to look at the other man, knowing that it was a stupid question. Of course he'd probably tried, but it was obvious that Atkins didn't really want Batman's help. They were silent for a minute and then Gordon spoke again; “Do you believe that everything happens for a reason?”
“Yes,” was Batman's reply. Gordon was still looking out, not facing the vigilante, but he could practically feel the other man standing behind him. Seconds later the Bat was next to to him, not leaning as he was, but facing towards him. “Why?”
“I'd been thinking that everything I've had to endure the last nine month or so have been one big test. A show of faith, if you will. Something I have to overcome. And that saying, that 'everything happens for a reason', my reasons will be given to me in due time.” Gordon straightened, turning to look at Batman, who was contemplating what Gordon had said. “Alright, say it. You think I'm crazy for believing that. That people create their own destinies.” Because honestly, Batman seemed like the kind of man who would believe in that; there was no way a man just happened across becoming Batman because it was meant to happen. Batman become Batman because he choose to.
“You're not crazy, Jim. If anyone deserves that right now, it is you,” Batman said, his voice had dropped into a rough whisper that sent chills down Gordon's spine. He was sure at first it was because they were standing so close, but that didn't feel right.
“I'm sure there are far more deserving people than I,” Gordon commented, moving his eyes away from the Bat as the man's intense stare was starting to make him feel dazed.
“No,” Batman said as he placed a hand on either side of shoulder's arms, forcing him to look at him. Batman opened his mouth to say something more, as if he had a reason for his actions, but nothing came out and he stared at Gordon in confusion. That makes two of us, Gordon thought. Batman lessened his grip and finally dropped his hands all together. It was then though, that Gordon felt not only his own loneliness, but Batman's as well.
They'd been friends for five or so years now – partners and allies – and not once did Gordon ever find out if Batman at least had a family that he went home to every night. Maybe it was a because a part of hoped he didn't, that there was no one waiting at his house wondering if it would be that night that he didn't make it home. Maybe he had no family and that was why Gordon was so important to him.
Gordon checked his watch, it was a little after nine. He glanced inside the house, noting that the living and kitchen lights had been turned off – Babs and Jimmy had gone to their rooms for the night. Gordon then looked back at Batman who was still searching for the words to accompany his most recent actions. Without even thinking, Gordon placed a hand on Batman's Kevlar armored chest plate.
“You want some coffee?” he asked. Batman seemed hesitant and Gordon shook his head. “You really think Atkins is going to need you? It's obvious he isn't listening.” Gordon's hand slipped from the armor and brushed against the other man's gloved fingers and reflexivity Batman's fingers grasped his, and Gordon's tugged to motion him inside. “C'mon.”
Their hands parted and Gordon opened the front door, ushering Batman through the door behind him in case someone was watching them. He turned on the light. In the florescent lighting of the kitchen, Batman almost looked ridiculous. Gordon couldn't remember how many times he'd met with the man, but it was very rare that he met him at all in well lit areas. In fact, it was the first time he ever really noticed that the Bat wasn't exactly fully protected in armor, as there were slight gaps in continuity of the Kevlar to – from what it looked like – allow better movement. This did not help Gordon feel any better about this man dashing across rooftops and dodging bullets. But, Batman had been doing this for five years now and hadn't died yet. Gordon just had to have faith.
And he found that he did have faith in Batman, more than he cared to admit to himself and more than he probably should have. Gordon found the bag of pre-ground coffee and a new filter. He put the filter in the machine and right amount coffee per water, and then turned it on. He reached above the counter to the cabinet and pulled out two mugs.
“Cream? Sugar?” he asked, feeling stupid when he remembered they'd had coffee once before on the rooftop of MCU a few years ago. “Right, just sugar.” At that he saw Batman grin at him out of the corner of his eye. Gordon couldn't help but laugh at himself.
The coffee finished brewing and poured it into the two mugs, walking over to the table he placed each down at spot. He took one spot and the gestured to Batman to take the other seat. Batman looked at him and then reached around and unclipped the cape and set it over the edge of the chair. Gordon shook his head as he sipped his coffee. Gordon found he was having trouble finding things to talk about and ended up blurted out the first thing that came to mind as he watched the vigilante.
“I did always wonder how that thing came off. I just assumed it was permanently attached,” Gordon mused after his sip. Batman sat down and slipped off his gloves, setting them aside on the table. Gordon watched, carefully. Did Batman have so much trust him that he knew Gordon wouldn't finger print the mug later?
Batman looked over at him, and Gordon couldn't help but feel just so distant from him at that moment. They were close friends, having gone through rough patches recently and coming out stronger still, and yet there was this barrier between them. A barrier that Gordon knew would likely change their friendship if he ever found out.
And yet, Gordon was sure he knew more about the man behind the mask than most people probably knew about his real life. Gordon wasn't sure how he knew, but he did.
Batman picked up the mug between his hands, bringing it to his lips and sipping it. Gordon watched him over the rim of his own mug, taking in the little things about the man's hands, like how long his fingers were, how his nails seemed well manicured as if he took care of them, the slight tan color they had, not quite matching the skin tone of his chin – a man that obviously took care of himself during the day. Gordon squeezed his eyes shut, he didn't want to think about Batman as someone else. He was just Batman. He didn't want to be knowledgeable to any of that.
“Jim?” Batman asked. Gordon felt the warmth of hand near his, as if Batman's was wavering over his in an unsure gesture, if it was okay or not. Gordon opened his eyes and saw that the Bat was looking at him worriedly and his hand was exactly where Gordon thought it was. “Are you okay?”
“Fine. Just tired,” Gordon replied, setting his mug down on the table. Batman's hand was still lingering near Gordon's. “I used to be able to pull all nighters, be up until three in the morning without even being phased. Now I can barely get through ten in the evening without feeling... old.”
“You aren't old,” Batman whispered. Gordon looked at him and then to their hands so close together and he reached out and grasped the other man's hand tightly. He wasn't sure why he did it, but there was a connection noticed when they did touch, and whatever it was, it was comforting... Like they were old friends.
“That's nice of you to say, but I look in the mirror every day and see my father just before he died.” Gordon squeezed Batman's hand and then let it go, taking another sip of his coffee. “My daughter is going to be eighteen in two weeks and my son almost sixteen. I'm old. Plain and simple.”
Batman leaned on the table towards him, looking him in the eye almost sternly, but Gordon noticed a admiring note to it. “Trust me, you aren't,” Batman said very clearly, and without him realizing that he had dropped the rasp for for a those few seconds. Gordon didn't say anything, some how he felt he reading more into that than he should have been... Right? Either way, this was a side of Batman he rarely saw, a friendlier more relaxed side, and who was he to ruin such a moment? And when would he get to see it again, if ever?
So this was what being friends with a vigilante is like, Gordon thought as he brought his mug to his lips again. He wanted to laugh at his own musing. He felt as if he was sitting at his dinner table with his oldest friend reminiscing, when in fact they weren't... but just the feeling of it. Everything felt okay – perfect even – for those few minutes they sat there and just let be, be.
Gordon smiled. “Thanks.”
Chapter 7: Seven
Bruce had shared a few stories with Gordon's son, Jimmy. Nothing that would give himself away in the long run, but enough that the boy was able to relate and understand that certain things happen in life and people have to move forward in order to move on. He explained that Gordon and Babs were two examples of people who, even though they did grieve, were able to accept that things had to go forward instead of living in the past. But Bruce did relate with the teen, if even in the sense that when his own parents died all he wanted to do was live in the past instead of move into the future. It wasn't until years later that Bruce finally understood what it was that Alfred had been trying to tell him.
It had been two weeks since he had seen the Gordon's and talked to Jimmy. The boy had called him once since then, but it seemed like more of a forced thank you from his father than an actual call to talk about anything important. Which was fine; Bruce gave the kid his number in case he actually needed to talk to someone, not to chit-chat, which teenage boys weren't known for anyway.
Bruce had actually relished in the fact that there had been something he could do for the Gordon's, even if it was as simple as telling Jimmy stories about his own childhood. It was something, and he was beginning to feel he was slowly making up for the fact that he wasn't able to help sooner in the way he would have preferred. This way felt better; this way felt reassuring. He was doing something without the use the money and it felt a million times better than having had just thrown a check in Gordon's face to make it better.
Now, Bruce was starting to feel a bit useless again. The only time he really got to see Gordon was on the nights that he didn't have a lot to do, or was shunned off by Commissioner Atkins. Bruce was on the verge of giving up completely with MCU, if not for Stephens, Montoya and Bullock sneaking around the rooftops once a week to give him files of information on the murder cases. Atkins obviously didn't know otherwise he would have given Batman the information himself. Bruce kept wishing there was some way to convince Gordon to take his job back, but it didn't look likely.
There were no real leads on the murders, the killer obviously smart enough to cover his tracks and leave nothing behind. Bruce couldn't help but think it was an inside job, someone who either currently worked for the law enforcement or had at one time. How else would they know what to do, covering every single track, making sure not even a hair or skin flake was found on the scene of the murder.
It was Saturday evening and the three detectives were standing on the rooftop, arms folded over their chests, kicking gravel on the rooftop and sipping coffee. Bruce landed down next to the broken spotlight, still hidden in shadow. He stepped behind the three, folding his own arms over his chest and waited to see how long it actually took them to realize he was there. Each time it took them less, they were slowly getting used to him.
God he missed Gordon.
Stephens slowly turned his head around and jumped at least a few inches. “Christ,” he mumbled as the other two turned around to look at Batman. “You know, you could just announce that you're here instead of scaring us half to death.”
Montoya pushed Stephen's shoulder playfully. “But that wouldn't be any fun for him.” And she winked at Batman, but Bruce didn't flinch or smile. He needed to keep the respect of the detectives in tact. She shrugged. “So what did you find out about our murderer?”
Batman gave her back the envelope of information they had given him the week before. Lucky for them the murderer hadn't struck again since then, but they were expecting another one soon. These types didn't just stop for no reason. Montoya took the envelope, taking out all the paperwork they had given him, but this time with notes in red pen that he had jotted down.
“Inside job?” She questioned, handing the papers over to Bullock, who started to sift through them, scratching his head at a few of the markings.
“It makes sense,” Bullock said, shuffling the papers back together and handing them to Stephens. “It would definitely explain why this guy is so good at covering his tracks and why we can't seem to find a lead on him.”
“Or her ,” Montoya pointed out.
Bullock nodded his head at her, annoyed. “Or her.”
“If this is true, how do we start that investigation? Where do we start?” Stephens asked, turning to Batman. Bruce wasn't sure either, obviously background checks had to be done, but first the trio had to run it past the commissioner, get him to okay everything.
“Get the required permissions first from Atkins,” Bruce growled. “Then you can start investigating everyone at GCPD.”
“But how do you know it's not one of us?” Bullock asked, concerned perhaps that Batman had a little too much trust in them. Batman turned to leave but looked back at them, searching each of their eyes for any fear or justification that he should suspect, but he couldn't find any. Just as he'd thought.
“Because you were Gordon's best. I trust him.” And without another word, Bruce jumped down the side of the rooftop into the shadows of the alley below. Gordon never had reason to mistrust the three, and Bruce knew them well enough by now to know that they were dedicated to their work, to everything Gotham was about. If one of them ended up being the murderer, he'd have to rethink his place in Gotham.
It wasn't very often that Jim Gordon heard from his old crew from MCU, but when he did he always knew it was for some form of advice. And that really didn't say much considering he'd only been officially retired for a little less than two months. Two very, very long months. So when Montoya, Stephens, and Bullock stopped by his house on Saturday evening, all piling out of one squad car, Gordon couldn't help but wonder what exactly the problem was this time.
He stood at the front door and watched as the three detectives walked up his driveway, stepping up onto his porch. They stood in a row looking at each other and then Gordon with little innocent smiles on their faces. Gordon shook his head and opened the front door wider and motioned them all inside. Each took their turn walking past Gordon and giving him their best angelic looks.
“You're all pathetic,” Gordon said as he shut the door behind him. He stood in front of them, much like olds times, with his hands on his hips and looking them over questionably. “Am I going to get a reason for this visit, or are we going to play charades all night until I guess?”
“We sort of need your help,” Montoya chipped in, shrugging her shoulders. “We need to do more extensive background checks on everyone in the GCPD, but we need Atkins' approval first.”
“We asked him and he refused. He said we didn't have enough 'evidence' to back up claims,” Bullock added. Gordon stared at them for a long moment, before rubbing his forehead with his thumb and forefinger.
“Where do I fit in here? I don't have any authority –” Gordon had started to say, but Stephens shook his head, placing a hand on Gordon's shoulder.
“No, we know that, Jim. We won't be able to convince him so we're bringing the paperwork back to you so you can...” Stephens started to gesture wildly, as if Gordon knew what he was talking about. Stephen's rolled his eyes. “You can give it back to him . He'll have to do the research we can't.”
Bullock pulled out an envelope from his jacket and handed it to Gordon. Gordon looked at it and then the trio. “What makes you three think that I have any contact with him now at all?” The three stared at him, unmoving, knowing gazes that didn't look amused. Gordon sighed and tossed the envelope onto the table. “Fine.”
“Thanks, Jim,” Stephens said, patting him on the arm. “We'd have returned it to him ourselves but we don't really have a way of getting a hold of him.”
Gordon nodded, knowing full well he had his own way to get a hold of the Bat if he needed to. He hadn't used the phone yet, but this seemed important enough to finally use it. “I'll do what I can.”
Gordon waited out on the porch, envelope tucked under one arm, watching the stars. Not a cloud in the sky on a considerably warm spring evening. Babs was in her room with her three girl friends, giggling and gossiping about what, Gordon didn't care to know. Her birthday was technically tomorrow, but he allowed her to have the sleep over Saturday evening instead. He didn't do his usually cake buying even though Babs said she didn't mind, he figured he'd wait until tomorrow to do that – make it a family thing.
“Jim,” came the all too familiar rasp from his left. Gordon didn't need to look over to know. He merely held up the envelope. Batman reached over and took it. There was moment of rustling papers and then nothing. Gordon finally looked at the vigilante, who was reading over the papers, a little confused.
“Apparently they're luck with Atkins is as good as yours. They can't get him to approve the extensive background checks. You're on your own,” Gordon said, giving him a weak smile. Batman put the papers back into the envelope. Gordon wanted to ask how it was that Batman got all his intel anyway, but then he thought better of it. Too many questions usually lead to too many answers he didn't really need.
“How's the family?” Batman asked roughly. Gordon leaned forward onto the porch railing. Batman had started to ask more often how his family was, about the kids, what Gordon was up to. They're friendship was growing and Gordon found the relaxed nature of it comforting. He wasn't sure he'd ever had a friend like Batman before. Well, there had been Barbara, but that was different. He didn't have her anymore. And having Batman as a friend was far better than not having any friends. At least the Bat was consistent in coming to see him more than once a week – it let Gordon know that he actually did care , and just wasn't pretending.
“Good. Babs' birthday tomorrow. She has her friends over tonight. Jimmy's at a his friend's house. Can't blame him, a house full of girls is not exciting.” Gordon thought about that and then caught the smirk on Batman's face, and rolled his eyes at him. “Okay, so maybe it is. Fact is, he didn't need to be here.”
Batman chuckled. “And you?”
“Me what?” Gordon didn't quite understand the question.
“How are you ?” Batman asked. Oh , Gordon thought. He never knew how to answer these questions. He didn't do much during the day that changed often, so every time Batman asked it felt repetitive.
“You really asking that?” Gordon questioned, sighing. He placed his forearms on the railing, gazing out over the street. Batman didn't answer and Gordon nodded his head. “I'm fine. Same as usual. Bored to death. Except, tonight I get to deal with teenage girls giggling at all hours of the night and attempt to sleep.” Batman held back what sounded like a snort. Gordon turned his head to the other man and shot him a glare over the rim of his glasses. Batman held his free end up defensively.
“I don't envy you,” Batman replied in haste to cover up for his outburst. Silence.
“You got kids?” Gordon found himself asking and then immediately tried to back track, fumbling to find the words to rephrase it, but there was nothing. Batman's gaze didn't change and after a few moments, he shifted to a sitting position on the side of the rail.
“No. I don't,” he rasped, simply. Gordon then wanted to ask the age-old question of if Batman was married, but maybe that was pushing things. He didn't see how a masked man who ran around in a flying rodent suit could possibly be married – no woman would ever deal with that. And Batman always seemed so lonely; Gordon guessed that the man had no family, none that he lived with anyway.
“What's up next on your patrol tonight?” Gordon asked when the silence grew a little too thick for his liking. It was hard to have real conversation on the porch of your house when you weren't sure who was listening.
Batman held up the envelope. “Shake down a few officers,” he said with a little grin. Gordon raised an eyebrow at him; he knew Batman's tactics and they weren't always the nicest. He found himself giving the vigilante one of his more worried, fatherly looks. Batman hopped down off the rail and stepped towards Gordon until they were just a foot or so apart. “Don't look at me like that.”
Gordon rarely heard the man tease; it did happen, just not often, and it was only around Gordon that he ever did it. Otherwise the Bat was all serious business and that was final. Gordon put a hand on the Batman's chest armor and pushed him away playfully, watching another grin spread across the other man's face.
“Get out of here,” Gordon said turning to face the street for a second and when he looked back, Batman was gone.
Through the giggling coming from Babs' room, Gordon couldn't sleep. He thought if he shut his door he could drown it out a little, but he obviously didn't account for the pitch of each girls' voices and just how much their house carried noises when everything else was silent. So he threw on his robe and trudged out to the living room where he sat on the couch and turned the television on. It didn't matter what he watched or that he didn't turn on a light, he was just trying to drown out the girls.
But even then he felt weird, as if someone was watching him. Gordon put the remote down on the arm of the couch, squinting his eyes into the darkness beyond the television at the front door. He could have sworn he saw a slight movement of a shadow. His first instinct was to grab for his gun, but realized not only did he not have it on him, but he no longer owned one. He would need to remedy this later... hopefully there was later.
Getting to his feet, he slowly made his way to the wall where the light switch was for the kitchen and flipped it on. He looked to the where the shadows had been and saw Batman leaning against the door, holding his right arm. Gordon walked quickly walked over to him, putting an arm around his shoulder to move him away from the door. There was a thick trickle of blood running down the door frame to the floor. He'd been standing there for quite some time it seemed.
“Oh for Christ-sake,” Gordon mumbled through gritted teeth as he helped Batman to one of the chairs in the kitchen. “What happened?” Batman grimaced as he sat in the chair, and Gordon noticed some dark red oozing from the man's hip, right where the plates of armor split.
“Stabbed,” Batman manged to say a little too loud, and Gordon placed his hands on Batman's shoulders and made a 'shhh' sound and motioned to the hall way. Batman sighed heavily, managing a nod. Gordon walked to the cabinet beneath the kitchen sink and pulled out the first aid kit. He returned to the table and placed the kit down, kneeling down in front of Batman, who was trying to remove the plate of armor over his right arm with his free hand. Gordon stopped him, looking the armor over.
“How does it comes off?” Gordon whispered. Batman motioned at the glove on his right hand and then the armor piece of the blades. Of course they would just slip on and off. Gordon pulled the glove off first and then the next piece until he reached the piece he needed, taking that one off as well. He looked at the stab wound, it was pretty deep and probably needed stitches. “This is pretty bad. Does the leg armor come off the same?” Batman gave a curt nod.
Gordon dropped his hands to Batman's left leg and removed the left boot and the rest of the armor until he reached the Bat's hip, the wound easily seen through the mesh bodysuit the man wore. That one was pretty bad, too. For briefest of moment, Gordon thought how odd it felt to be tearing off the pieces of the man in front of him, a vulnerability that he never thought he'd actually see. But Batman trusted him, and that was well worth putting aside his own insecurities about being walked in on by Babs or one of her friends just then. Faith , he had to have a little of it and everything would be fine.
Gordon shook his head and looked up into Batman's eyes for a moment as he grabbed the rubbing alcohol. There was a lot of pain in those eyes, but he didn't wince once when Gordon swabbed both wounds.
“I don't have anything to stitch these with,” Gordon said, finding some large bandages.
“That's fine. I... I have someone who can do it later,” Batman said rather breathlessly, and there wasn't much sign of his deep, raspy voice. Gordon unwrapped the first bandage and began to press it over the wound on Batman's hip. Gordon unwrapped the other bandage, shifting to his left to reach Batman's right arm, placing that bandage there.
“I don't know how well these are going to last. You're gonna bleed through them...” Gordon sighed, the fatherly part of him was saying he needed to insist on taking Batman to the hospital, the cop part of him was saying that was a stupid idea – this was Batman. He looked at Batman worriedly and couldn't help but wonder if when the man left this place he would make him home or not to have who ever was going to stitch him up. “How...” Gordon started to say again, and then stopped. “Can I...” There was just no point in trying, everything he wanted to ask would lead to a revealing he didn't want.
Gordon continued to kneel in front of Batman, confused and lost – so unsure of everything. Batman grabbed the pieces of armor on the table and started to put them on, but his eyes never left Gordon's steady gaze as he did; it was if he knew the pieces by heart now and didn't have to see to know how they fit together.
“Sorry,” Batman whispered. “I didn't mean to intrude. I was in the neighborhood.” His neighborhood? Gordon didn't want to think about who Batman was interrogating in this part town, so close to his home – his family . He didn't voice his concerns outward, it wasn't the time.
“No, no... it's alright,” Gordon said as he finally stood to his feet, offering a hand to Batman, who had just slipped on the last piece of armor and his boot. Batman took the help and hobbled to the door. “Where you going to go?”
“I have someone picking me up a few blocks from here,” Batman said as he slipped out the front door. Gordon couldn't help but wonder exactly who helped Batman. Gordon was never told of anyone before now, never asked either. He sighed, staring out the front window. He really did need to get some sleep.
Chapter 8: Eight
Gordon took his morning jog without Babs. She was curled up in her room on the floor with her three friends sprawled out next to her. He wasn't really sure how late they had stayed up, but he wasn't expecting them to be awake until at least ten, if not later. So, he jogged around the neighborhood and returned. Even then it was only eight in the morning and not a sound from Babs' room was to be heard. He thought that maybe he could garden, but after looking out the back window he decided that wasn't quite what he wanted to do so early. He could make breakfast, but the girls weren't awake, so what was the point? Pancakes weren't as good reheated.
That left getting things ready for that afternoon when they would have their family dinner. So he hopped into his car and drove down to the store where he picked up everything he would need. Babs' favorite food was spaghetti with homemade sauce, which Gordon had never made before, but was sure that if he followed Barbara's recipe in her old cookbook he'd be able to at least give it a good try. He picked up the pasta, cans of tomato paste, tomato sauce, spices, and ground beef – because he knew that Jimmy would complain if there were no meatballs. He even opted for a loaf of sourdough bread. It was his daughter's eighteenth birthday after all, he was going to try to make it the best he could.
After leaving the grocery store he went by the bakery down by police station, having that heavy and unsettling feeling as he passed. He missed it more than he was bound to tell anyone.
God, but he missed it.
He parked at the bakery, getting out of the car and locking it. The first thing he noticed was a black Lamborghini parked a few spaced away, and his curiosity really got the best of him as he wandered over to the car and peered inside as he walked past. No doubt it was Wayne's; not many people in Gotham drove such expensive cars, or let alone afford one. Gordon walked up to the door of the bakery and stepped inside.
There wasn't a line, but the clerk was helping a dark haired man in a clean pressed, pin-striped suit. Gordon didn't need the man to turn around to know it was Wayne. Gordon approached the counter and the other clerk saw him and waved. After coming here for years now to order birthday cakes and bring donuts to the team at MCU, they knew Gordon pretty well. The lady motioned him to the other side, next to Wayne.
“I can't believe you're daughter is eighteen already,” the woman said. “I remember when you were buying her birthday cakes when she wasn't even five years old.” She smiled at him and Gordon returned it with a slight nod.
“Yeah...” Gordon sighed, hands in deep in his pockets. The woman walked back to the refrigerated area of the store and brought back medium sized cake. White whipped cream frosting with ruby red strawberries decorated on top. Just how Babs liked it. Gordon couldn't help but feel this would be the last year he'd be able to get away with buying her a cake. There was that old feeling again, and this time Batman wasn't around to reassure him that he wasn't as old as he felt.
“That's quite a cake,” Wayne said from beside him, looking over at the plastic container it was in.
“They only make the best here,” Gordon commented as he handed the woman his credit card. Wayne smiled at him, a sincere little grin that really took the edge of seeing the billionaire in such a coincidental place.
“Good to know. I'm having them cater the desserts at my next event,” Wayne offered, and for once Gordon was actually curious. Usually Wayne's parties were drab and boring, consisting of boozed-up socialites and mad men who thought crashing said parties was a good way to gain leverage. Gordon hoped for Wayne's sake this party didn't end that way.
“It's charity auction,” Wayne explained, not really giving more details which was now going to bug Gordon if he didn't find out. The woman gave Gordon his card and he signed the slip and handed it back.
“Auction?” Gordon pressed, turning now to look at Wayne, making their conversation a little more personable.
“Unfortunately,” Wayne sighed, checking off a few more boxes on the paper he was looking at, writing something down, and then placed the pen on top of the paper. He turned towards Gordon, leaning his right arm on the counter. Gordon noticed Wayne wince a little, covering it with a sharp smile, but Gordon saw the pain lingering in his eyes. He'd heard stories about Wayne, polo accidents, ski trips gone awry, but this was almost familiar.
“What's being auctioned?” Gordon questioned, trying not to look as if he was analyzing Wayne, when in fact he was searching for more than just answers about the event. Wayne's smile turned into a slightly annoyed grimace, pushing himself off the counter, this time hiding the obvious pain he was having.
“Bachelors,” Wayne said with a roll of his eyes. “Every year the Wayne Foundation does an auction of some sort, and the past few years haven't had much of a turn out. The wife of one of the board members suggested a Bachelor Auction.”
“And let me guess, you're top pick?” Gordon asked in a teasing tone, unaware he had really come out that way until he heard it spill from his own lips. Too late to take it back now. Wayne let out a laugh, grabbing at his left side, hiding another onset of pain. Sometimes it was annoying having been a detective, Gordon thought. He noticed all the little things, and this was getting suspicious.
“Yeah,” Wayne replied. “It's pulling in a lot of attention, so I can't necessarily back down now. My only hope is I don't get auctioned off to some old cougar.” Wayne scrunched up his face at the idea and Gordon nearly laughed. Wayne must have gotten a lot of attention of older women, such as the other week when he was over talking to Jimmy and their neighbor stopped by. Gordon hoped for Wayne's sake as well that he was at least won by a woman more his age.
“You know you could always send a friend in with money to be sure that doesn't happen,” Gordon suggested, taking the cake off the counter. Wayne grinned at him mischievously.
“That's actually not a bad idea. I don't know why I didn't think of that.” Wayne followed Gordon towards the door, holding it open for him with his left hand – Gordon noticed there was no sign of pain when he used that one – and then following him out.
“Just depends on how much you'd be willing to spend on yourself,” Gordon teased. He walked to his car and Wayne put his hands out to hold the cake for him as he unlock the door. Gordon took the cake back and placed it on the passenger seat.
“True,” Wayne replied. They stood there for a moment, a vaguely familiar silence between them and Gordon couldn't really remember when he had become so friendly with Wayne. One dinner at the Gordon household hardly resulted in such an attitude change, right? “Wish you're daughter a happy birthday for me.”
Wayne started to walk away and Gordon felt an odd compulsion surge through his body and he found himself blurting out words he had no control over. “What are you doing today?” Wayne turned around, one eyebrow raised and smirk peeking around the edges of his mouth.
Gordon had to pick up Jimmy from his friends house and then they made their way home. He was still trying to think about what had come over himself to invite Wayne over for a family birthday dinner. No, not just the birthday dinner, he invited Wayne over for the whole day. He mentioned pancakes and coffee and Wayne seemed to be all over that. If Gordon could actually kick himself in the ass, he would have. Couldn't change or take back what he already did, so there was no point in thinking of ways to escape it.
He asked Jimmy to help him take the groceries inside while he grabbed the cake. Just as they pulled up, so did Wayne, in his fancy car. He slid out of the impressive piece of machinery, dressed down to blue jeans, designer black sneakers, and rather tight black, long-sleeved shirt. Gordon glanced him over as he approached him and Jimmy. Wayne took the cake from Gordon with a smile.
“Thanks,” Gordon managed to blurt out, still in awe of the sudden change in demeanor of the billionaire. Wayne smiled as they walked up the steps and Gordon unlocked the front door, only to be bombarded by the sounds of giggling teenage girls in his living room. Jimmy groaned. The girls all froze when the door opened and Gordon, Wayne, and Jimmy all stood at the front door.
“Uh, hi, Dad,” Babs said she stood up from the floor and hugged him tightly. “Where have you been?” Gordon motioned to the groceries and the cake in Wayne's hands.
“Picking up a few things for this evening. Ran into Mister Wayne here at the bakery. He's, uh, going to attempt to help me make this homemade sauce of your mother's.” Gordon looked back at Wayne who blinked a few times in confusion, as if he had been roped into something unexpected. Gordon gave him an apologetic smile, even if he didn't really mean it.
“Oh,” Babs said. “Well... when is breakfast?”
Gordon laughed at her and kissed her forehead. “I'll be getting right on it, sweetheart.” Babs smiled brightly and went to rejoin her friends in the living room. Gordon motioned Jimmy to put the groceries away, and the teen did as asked without so much of a complaint. Jimmy had been doing really well since his last talk with Wayne, and Gordon was happy and ever so grateful to Wayne for taking the time. Maybe that was why he didn't mind inviting him over. Jimmy seemed to like the billionaire just fine and Babs didn't mind him either. And if Gordon had to be honest with himself for once, he kind of liked Wayne. There seemed to be a lot of misconceptions about Wayne, lies and deceit twisted into his playboy image. But Gordon didn't see the playboy part of Wayne anymore – maybe it was never there to being with.
Gordon asked Jimmy to start the coffee while he mixed the pancake batter. Wayne sat at the table, watching them contently. Gordon wondered what the man was thinking, if he was wondering what it would have been like to have a normal life where his parents hadn't been killed, what his father and him would have done together... It seemed like something the billionaire would probably think about, or used to anyway. Gordon didn't want to ask, he didn't want to bring up the past. Not today.
Gordon heated the griddle and poured a few batches of pancake mix on to it. Jimmy had finished what he was asked to do and left to go to his room, to escape the giggling girls and to get out of the way. Wayne stood from the table and walked over to Gordon and looked over his shoulder. Gordon turned his head slightly, aware that Wayne was pretty close.
“Never seen pancakes being made, Mister Wayne?” Gordon snarked. Wayne moved to Gordon side, hand firmly planted on the counter next to him, but he wasn't watching the pancakes he was watching Gordon this time.
Gordon tried not to notice.
“First, it's Bruce. Second, it's been a while. I haven't had pancakes since...” Wayne drifted off, scrunching up his face in thought. “Oh, twelve years or so? Alfred doesn't make them anymore... They were..” Another paused and looked down at his feet momentarily. “They were Rachel's favorite.”
Gordon quirked an eyebrow at Wayne as he flipped the first set of pancakes over. “Rachel Dawes?” He couldn't say he had heard that name in a while, three years at least. No one mentioned her or Dent – ever. It was almost taboo.
“Yes,” Wayne's tone changed from the usual chipper one, to something more melancholy. Gordon often forgot that Dawes had known Wayne, but now that he thought about it he remembered that her mother used to work for the Wayne's before they died and that Wayne and Dawes had been good friends since they were children. That piece of information seemed important, as if he needed to remember that if he wanted to know Wayne better. Did he want to know Wayne better? Maybe...
“Well,” Gordon started, changing the subject. “Then you are in for a treat.” Gordon plated the first batch of finished pancakes, adding more mixture to the griddle for another round. “I don't toot my own horn often, but pancakes are my specialty.” Which could be a lie, but Jimmy and Babs always said it was what he cooked best., and that wasn't saying much.
“I'm sure you have other specialties,” Wayne teased, his mood seeming to rise a little after they dropped the subject of Dawes. Gordon shook his head and looked away from Wayne, watching the bubbles form on top of the pancakes. He flipped them carefully, aware that Wayne was watching his every move, studying him. The gaze – the intensity – was remarkably comforting even though he knew that he should feel weirded out. So familiar...
“I wouldn't count on it,” Gordon replied. He finished making the rest of the pancakes, small little remarks were made here and there between him and Wayne, and it felt like they had been friends for longer than... well, today. Gordon placed the plate on the table, taking a few off and putting them on separate plates for him and Wayne as the girls flocked to the table.
He handed Wayne a plate. “Syrup?” Gordon asked offering the bottle, which Wayne took, drenching his pancakes in it. Gordon did the same, standing next to Wayne by the stove in the kitchen. They ate in silence and watched the girls and it felt peaceful despite the noise. Wayne went to put his plate in the sink at the same time Gordon did, their hands brushing briefly. Gordon dropped his plate in the sink and pulled his hand back, but kept his eyes on Wayne's fingers. He'd seen those fingers before... his mind was trying to piece together a puzzle, but it was like he still missing so many other pieces and the picture wasn't clear yet.
Wayne glanced at him, concerned. “Jim?” He'd never heard Wayne call him by his first name before, the tone and the underlying octave felt right, like he'd heard it so many times before.
“Hm?” Gordon asked as he snapped out of his haze. “Sorry, I didn't get a lot of sleep last night. My mind isn't... all here.” Wayne smirked at him, knowingly.
Babs' friends finally went home about an hour later and after Gordon cleaned up the breakfast mess he pulled out Barbara's old cookbook and found her spaghetti sauce recipe. He found the stock pot he would need and brought out all the ingredients he had just bought and placed them on the counter. He then pulled out the ground beef, breadcrumbs, spices and eggs and put them on the table in front of Wayne, who looked up at him like he was asking him to run a marathon.
“Oh come on,” Gordon started. “Are you telling me you've never cooked anything before?”
“No, I have... I just don't know what I'm suppose to do with all this,” Wayne said as he motioned to the items on the table. Gordon sighed and found the recipe for meatballs and handed it to Wayne.
“You can follow directions, right?”Gordon asked. Wayne nodded. “Good, then do that.” Gordon walked back to the stove and started on the first steps of making the sauce. Five minutes passed and he looked back at Wayne who already had everything mixed together and was forming the meat mixture into fairly good sized balls between his palms. He looked up at Gordon smiled at him slyly, placing the ball he had been rolling down on the tray to his right.
“You sure you've never done this before?” Gordon questioned again. Wayne was speedy and Gordon was sure he had lied about never having made meatballs before. Wayne shook his head.
“Honest to God, I never have.” Wayne replied. “I'm fast leaner.”
“Apparently,” Gordon mumbled as he went back to work on the sauce. Two minutes passed and Wayne was up, placing the tray of meatballs on the counter next to Gordon. He looked over at the billionaire, surprised.
“Can I help with anything else?” Wayne asked and Gordon shook his head.
“This really just needs to simmer for a while and then we need to brown the meatballs in some oil before adding them to the sauce,” Gordon said, gesturing at the big frying pan on the stove.
“Would you like me to do that?” Wayne asked, stepping closer to Gordon.
“Can you do it without burning down my kitchen?” Gordon looked back at the younger man pointedly; he was expecting an obvious answer of, 'no'. But Wayne nodded, grabbing the oil from the counter, putting some in the pan and turning the heat on under it on medium.
Gordon watched him carefully. The oil heated and Wayne began putting the balls in carefully, grabbing a pair of tongs from the drawer to his left, where he must have noted they kept most of their cooking utensils. Wayne had cooked before and from what Gordon could tell, he was damn good at it. He was careful not to break the balls or let them crumble and gently removed them and put them back on the tray when they were browned just over the top.
“You are such a liar,” Gordon commented as Wayne took the last meatball out of the pan. Wayne reached over and turned the heat off. He then tipped his head just slightly and glanced at Gordon, smirking.
“Do you really think I want it known that Bruce Wayne can cook a decent meal for himself? What would people think?” Wayne asked, folding his arms over his chest. Gordon turned to face the younger man and they stared at each other for a few long moments, but Gordon never answered the question. Wayne leaned forward and whispered to Gordon: “What are secrets for if everyone finds out?”
Chapter 9: Nine
Gordon was happy to see that Babs more than enjoyed her birthday dinner, even though he knew that the sauce didn't quite taste the same as the way Barbara used to make it. But Babs was nice enough not to say anything. Jimmy didn't seem to care either way, keeping comments to himself. Wayne scarfed it down like he hadn't eaten in months, which Gordon knew wasn't true because he had made him breakfast that morning. If Wayne mentioned not eating spaghetti in over twelve years as well, Gordon was going to have to go have a talk with his butler, Alfred. That just wasn't right.
Wayne didn't say anything like that though, thankfully.
The cake was perfect and Babs loved it as well. It was strawberry shortcake, her favorite. Jimmy picked at his piece while the rest of them devoured it. Wayne was nicest enough to clean up the dishes, places them in sink and then start to wash them. He motioned for Gordon to sit back down, to have a moment with his daughter on her birthday. Gordon didn't complain, and the welcomed time was much appreciated. Jimmy stood and went to help Wayne and they talked quietly to themselves as Gordon watched the billionaire wash each dish and then hand it to Jimmy to dry.
It started to feel a little surreal, to see Bruce Wayne in his kitchen doing domestic duties, and yet it also felt... right. This was a side of Wayne no one got to see, likely not even his butler. Babs smiled at her Dad as she caught him watching the two in the kitchen cleaning.
“He's been really good for Jimmy,” Babs noted, patting her Dad's hand. Gordon nodded.
“He has. A bit unbelievable,” Gordon mumbled. He looked at his daughter sighed. “I know that having him here was probably not on your birthday schedule for family dinner. I'm really sorry, sweetie.”
Babs shook her head, a smile spreading on her face. “Don't be sorry. I don't mind, Dad.” She shrugged her shoulders and leaned in towards him coyly. “And its nice to see that you have a friend.”
Gordon raised an eyebrow at her questionably. “I think that's pushing it.”
“No, I don't think so. Sometimes good friends are unexpected, Dad. Just be happy you have one.” Babs said as she stood up from the table. She leaned over and kissed her head on the cheek. “I'm going to take a shower and get ready for bed.”
He nodded at her, focusing his attention back to the two in the kitchen, both were now drying dishes and putting them away. Wayne said something that Gordon couldn't hear and Jimmy laughed. Gordon stared in surprised; Jimmy hadn't laughed in nearly ten months. Gordon looked down at the coffee mug in his hand, smiling inwardly. Having Wayne around had its advantages. Jimmy liked him, looked up to him possibly and Gordon, well... he'd be the first to admit that he was wrong about Bruce Wayne. There was a spark about the billionaire, an air of mystery even. Secrets, Wayne had said, as if secrets were an every day thing – a part of who he was. Gordon would believe it, because he was starting to see through them.
The two finished and Jimmy headed down the hall to get ready for bed. Wayne took a clean mug from the counter top and poured himself a cup of coffee. He then added sugar and went to sit next to Gordon. Gordon watched him, noting the way he took his coffee. There shouldn't have been a significance to it, a lot of people preferred just sugar in their coffee.
Another little fact to file away for later.
“So, this auction of yours. When does that take place?” Gordon asked after a sip of his own coffee. Wayne looked down into his mug and then to Gordon.
“A couple weeks,” Wayne answered. Gordon wasn't sure why he asked, probably more morbid curiosity than anything else. He nodded and took another sip of coffee. After a few minutes Wayne spoke again; “So, how's retirement treating you?”
Gordon placed his mug down and pushing his glasses up on his nose. “Do you really want to know?” Wayne shrugged, a small friendly smile on his face. “I'm bored to death. I think I'm more likely to have another heart attack out boredom than I was working behind a desk most of the time.”
Wayne snorted. “I'm sure they'd welcome you back with open arms.”
“Maybe,” Gordon said with a shrug. “Okay, yes. I haven't heard from Garcia, but everyone else tells me that things are getting worse...” He found himself trailing off as Wayne watched him closely, giving his full attention. Gordon shouldn't be talking to Wayne about these things, it wasn't his business. “It's not likely.”
Wayne nodded, and there was a sadness in his eyes that Gordon couldn't quite place. “It is true. Things are getting worse again. I haven't seen it this bad since ...” Wayne sighed, taking a sip of his coffee. He didn't finish the sentence and Gordon didn't need him to. Since the Joker rampage. Wayne sighed. “With the Batman still running around, I'm sure it doesn't make it any better.”
Gordon shot Wayne a look, angry and regretful. Wayne wasn't looking at him though, he was peering down into his mug again, as if some sort of answer lay at the bottom of the cup. Gordon didn't dare say a word, his friendship with Batman was very secret, and just as Wayne said, what good were secrets and everyone knew? He merely shrugged, not giving an opinion on the situation.
Wayne downed the rest of his coffee and placed the mug on the table. “About that auction, Jim, would you be interested in...” he gestured at Gordon, nodding his head a little. Gordon scoffed at him, there was no chance in hell.
“No,” he said flatly. He then started to laugh at how just unbelievable the question even was. His wife wasn't even gone two months and people were trying to get him up on the bachelor block. Wayne smirked, and for a moment Gordon thought that he saw a flash of thankfulness in the billionaire's eyes.
“Sorry, we're just short a few. I didn't mean to upset you,” Wayne offered, and Gordon shook his head in dismissal.
“Don't. If it were a year from now, I might have said yes. But, it's.... it's just –” Gordon sighed and drank the last of the coffee in his cup, and set it down. “I haven't even thought about another woman, let alone casual dating or, hell, dating at all.”
“It's too soon,” Wayne said, completing what Gordon was going to originally say. “Understandable. I wouldn't want to make you uncomfortable.”
“Thanks,” Gordon muttered. He wasn't sure how they got on this conversation, but talking about his wife felt weird, especially with Wayne. There was silence, a long stretch of it. Wayne looked into his mug, then his watch and then Gordon.
“I should probably go. Your kids need to get to bed for school in the morning.” Wayne pushed the chair away from the table and stood. Gordon stood as well, walking with Wayne towards the door. Wayne was suddenly favoring his left side again, much like he had been that morning.
“Bruce, are you okay?” Gordon finally asked. He thought they were on friendly enough terms now that he could at least ask, see if there was something he could do. Wayne turned around as he reached out for the door knob, forcing the grimace that was painfully etched into his face into a weak smile.
“Perfectly,” Wayne answered, opening the door and walking with more confidence, but not looking at Gordon. Gordon walked out with him, shutting the door behind him. Wayne was making his way down the steps, slowly at that, and Gordon took hold of his right arm.
“You sure?” he asked. Wayne still didn't turn to face him, but Gordon heard the slight groan in the man's voice as he answered.
Gordon let go and stepped down off the porch next to Wayne, who had finally stopped, and turned to Gordon, his eyes showing a lot of curiosity, as if he had been keeping something to himself and wasn't sure if Gordon had caught on. Wayne forced a smile.
“You'd think golfing wasn't dangerous,” Wayne said, taking a deep breath. Gordon nodded, knowing that that, too, was a lie. Whatever Wayne was really getting into, maybe he didn't want to know. Not yet, anyway.
“I here it helps if you stretch first,” Gordon chimed in, looking down at his feet with slightly furrowed eyebrows. At some point, if their friendship were going to continue, he hoped that Wayne would trust him enough to tell him the truth and stop lying.
“Jim...” Wayne said softly. Gordon looked up, an awkward knot in his stomach as he caught Wayne's eyes, a swirl of browns, golds, and greens. Wayne opened his mouth to say something more, a confession perhaps from the guilty look on his face, but the words never made it past his lips and Gordon wasn't surprised. He took Wayne by the shoulders and looked him straight in the eye.
“Look, son, if you need to talk about anything,. I'm here,” he said sternly, a mix between fatherly, friendly, and concerned. He let a grin slip to his lips. “God knows that I haven't anything else to do.”
Wayne's eyes searched his, but he didn't return the smile. He nodded. At that moment Gordon thought of the young boy from years ago, broken and torn just after his parents were murdered in front of him. He saw that boy in Wayne still, hiding in the shell of a grown man who sheltered his real self from the rest of the world, and Gordon felt he was seeing him for the first time. Everything he once believed about who Wayne had become shattered around him in that moment, and he felt a stronger bond pulling them together emotionally.
“I should go,” Wayne said, slipping away from Gordon's grip and walking to his car. Gordon watched him, confused as he was by the event that just took place, he couldn't help but think that this was all part of something bigger. Something... better.
By the time Bruce returned to the penthouse, the stitches in his left hip and right arm were killing him. He hobbled from the car garage to the elevator, punching in his code. When the doors open Alfred stood there, arms crossed, worriedly. Bruce sighed, walking out of the shaft and into the room, only giving Alfred a slight glance. Bruce removed his shirt as he entered the living room, tossing it over the side of the couch. He looked at the stitches Alfred had given him just last night, seeing they were still in tact, just in need of cleaning.
“You know, Master Wayne, a quick thirty second phone call to let me know you wouldn't be home the rest of the day would have been nice,” Alfred said as he picked up the shirt and threw it over his shoulder. He then tugged on Bruce's arm to examine the wound, sighing.
“Sorry, Alfred,” Bruce breathed as a pain shot through his arm; Alfred was not gentle. “I was invited to the Gordon's for dinner.”
“Ah, and how was Mister Gordon and his children?” Alfred asked, tugging Bruce towards the bathroom. Bruce allowed himself to be directed. Alfred sat Bruce down on the toilet seat, taking out a bottle of alcohol and a few swabs.
“Was his daughter's birthday. His son is doing better,” Bruce said, but he wasn't put a lot of emotion into his voice, he wasn't sure how to feel just yet after his last encounter with Gordon.
“Hm...” Was all the older gentlemen came back with as he swabbed around the stitched. He motioned at the stitched on his side. Bruce stood and unbutton his pants and lowered them enough for Alfred to see the stitches. He cleaned those as well.
“I think he knows. Or suspects, at least,” Bruce mumbled and Alfred looked up at him with raised eyebrows. Bruce sighed. “I could be wrong, but... if he doesn't know I'm sure he'll figure out soon.”
“Is that a problem, sir?” Alfred asked, putting away the alcohol and throwing out the swabs. He leaned his back against the counter, wiping his hands on a towel. “What I mean is, does it matter if he does figure it out?”
Bruce chewed on the inside of his lip, he wasn't quite sure how he felt about Gordon finding out. On one hand, as Batman they were best friends, true partners no matter what. On the other hand, Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon were more acquaintances becoming fast friends. Bruce would be lying to himself if he didn't admit that he was hoping for something more from either side of the spectrum. He also knew that if anything were to come of it, if he wanted to have everything Gordon had to offer at any point, the man would have to find out. Not only would Gordon want to know everything, being the cop he is, but Bruce wouldn't be able to live with himself living a lie with someone on such an intimate level.
“No,” Bruce admitted finally. “I'm just so afraid that he'll be very disappointed.”
Alfred scoffed at him, as if he couldn't see what the problem was. “And why is that, sir?”
“Look at me, Alfred,” Bruce said, opening his arms and gesturing at him. “I get into fights every night. There isn't an inch on my torso that hasn't been bruised or scarred. I use violence to get my point across. And that's just during the night. By day I'm a bubbling airhead who is constantly throwing parties and and trying to get into women's panties. I can't see a man like Jim Gordon going for the whole picture. Batman yes, but once he sees who he really is...” Bruce put his elbows on his knees and buried his face into his hands. God he felt so reckless. Gordon had surprised him today, he hadn't even expected the invite or to see him at that bakery. Bruce knew he should have been more prepared, shouldn't have put his guard down.
Bruce felt a firm hand on his shoulder. “I believe you are over thinking this,” came Alfred's self assured tone from beside Bruce. “He's dealt with both sides of you thus far, sir and he hasn't gone running the other direction, yet. And I'm sure he's smart enough to look past your playboy facade long enough to see that it's not really who you are.”
After a few minutes of silence, Bruce heard Alfred turn on his heels to leave. He lifted his head to look at the other man. “Should I tell him?”
Alfred twisted at the hip to look at him. “I think you should do whatever you feel is right. At some point, sir, you will need to tell him, but timing is key.” And the butler left.
Bruce stood, undoing the rest of his pants and kicking them off. He walked out of the bathroom and up stairs to his room. He looked at his dresser and saw the phone that was connected to the one he had Given Gordon was flashing, meaning he missed the call on it and it could only be one person, since he was the only one who had the phone. Bruce picked it up and flipped it open. He thought about calling it back, but he just wasn't in the mood tonight. He didn't need to go out on patrol and if he called Gordon back, he'd likely get roped into going over there and being confronted. He placed it back down on the dresser.
Bruce went towards the master bathroom to shower, but something made him turn back around and pick up the phone again. He hit the redial button. No answer. He tried again. This time someone picked up, but it was Gordon. A girl.
“Hello?” asked a frightened voice, shaking. It was Babs. Bruce's heart fell as the worst case scenario started to roll through his mind.
“Babs, where is your father?” Bruce asked in rasp, and the girl let out a cry of relief, as if she knew who it was and felt suddenly safer. Bruce was already making his way to the hide out, motioning to Alfred as he went to follow him.
“He's... he's being held captive in the other room,” she said quickly. “He handed me the phone and said to call you when we heard the glass shatter in the backyard.”
“And you're brother?”
“He's with me,” Babs responded again. “What do I do?”
“Just stay calm, don't make any noise. You're father knows what to do in these situations. I'll be right over.” Bruce said, closing the phone. Bruce knew he should have gone to MCU and told Atkins what he had found out last night, the trail that lead to an CS investigator in the Gordon's neighborhood. If anything happened to Jim Gordon again, Bruce would never forgive himself.
Chapter 10: Ten
All Bruce could think about as he sped across Gotham, back towards the Gordon's house, was how he should have stayed that extra half hour, or even an hour. It could have made the difference to whoever it was that holding Jim Gordon hostage. Bruce had ideas on that as well. The case he had been helping the Trio with was getting hotter and he knew this by the way one of the people he had run into the night before reacted to him. It wasn't pretty and the man tried desperately to cover things up. He was dangerous, Bruce had the stab wounds to show for that, but he was also reckless.
If this was the same man, Bruce knew that sneaking up on him would be the fastest and easiest way to take him down. He parked the Batpod a ways down the street from Gordon's house, and ran across the rooftops silently. He perched on a neighbors roof looking into the backyard of the Gordon's house, it was dark except the blue-hued glow of the television. Bruce brought out his night-vision goggles and looked in a little further.
A man had Gordon in a choke hold and something to his neck. Bruce guessed a knife if it were the same man he ran into last night. This would be easy though, he was right by the door and it being dark was going to be huge advantage for Bruce.
Gordon stood in the middle of his own living room, only the light of the television to light up anything. He knew, however, that someone else was there with him from hilt of the knife at his throat and the arm around his neck. On most occasions Gordon would have been able to take the upper hand, but without his gun and being a bit out of shape since the heart attack, he really had no idea if he had it in him. He didn't want to risk his children's lives, either. Who knew if this guy was working with someone or not?
“So, how long until he usually shows?” the man asked sharply next to Gordon's ear, pressing the blade of the knife a little further into his skin. Gordon swallowed. He was regretting having told Babs to call Batman on the that cell phone, he was almost hoping he didn't pick up.
“H-he doesn't even know I'm in any danger,” Gordon said calmly, and the man tugged his arm around Gordon's neck tighter, his lips next to his ear, snarling.
“Don't think me stupid. I've been watching and I know he keeps tabs on you somehow. Now, how long do yo think until he shows?” Gordon saw the blade of the glint in the television light, and then in the same moment he saw a shadow move to his left. The man obviously didn't see it. If Batman could sneak up on this guy, there just might be a chance. Of course there was chance... they'd been through a lot worse situations than this before. This, to Batman, was likely just another off-chance situation where his friend was in danger. Again, nothing new. Gordon hoped it would be simple, easy... done with quickly.
“Ten, twenty minutes,” Gordon responded, and the man growled out a sigh of annoyance. More movement and suddenly Gordon found himself flat on the floor, glasses thrown off his face. He heard the sound of leather against skin and the snapping of bone, maybe a jaw. Gordon scrambled to find his glasses, patting around the floor near him. He found the wiry frames and placed them on the bridge of his nose. On the floor next tot him was the man, knocked out and knife sprawled across the floor.
Gordon used the chair to help himself to his feet. He could see the soft blue glow of the television beating off the armor in front of him. Batman held out a hand to help steady Gordon. Gordon nodded and walked over to the wall and flipped on the light. Batman was leaning over the man now and was linking his hands with standard police issued handcuffs. Gordon walked back towards the kids' bedrooms and opened the door. Babs was huddled in the corner with Jimmy, where he told them to be. He motioned his head out to the living room and the two got to their feet and followed him back down the hall.
Batman was standing over the man, arms crossed over his chest. Jimmy's eyes went wide, it had been a few years since he'd seen Batman up close. Batman nodded his head at the two and then looked back to Gordon.
“What did he want?”
“You,” Gordon said. He sighed, picking up the house phone and dialing the number for the police station. He told them what happened and the woman said she would send a squad car right away. Gordon turned back to Batman, expectantly.
“This is the same man I was investigating last night. He's not the murderer though, I know that much. I think he's being used as a cover-up,” Batman said. Gordon turned to his kids and motioned them to go to bed, they didn't need to be here for this and they had school in the morning.
“Why would he come after my family?” Gordon asked. “Were we really just bait for you?”
“Probably,” the Bat said. “After our run in, he's probably more than a little angry.” Batman glanced out the front window, seeing the red and blue lights coming down the street. “If they ask, you did this, and he was looking to see what information you had on the recent murders.” Gordon nodded, turning his head to sirens and when he looked back, the Bat was gone.
The man, come to find out, was a Crime Scene Unit Investigator. Once Gordon had gotten a good look at him, he recognized him immediately. Bullock told Gordon that after some interrogation, the man admitted that he was working for someone – the murderer – but he couldn't say who. He opted for jail time rather than give away his boss. Had it been Gordon he wouldn't have taken that, but Atkins let it slide and said they would find the real murderer soon enough. It was bullshit; Gordon and the Trio knew it.
It really sickened him to know that the job he took so seriously, the job he so loved for years, was being degraded down by a man who obviously didn't care what happened in Gotham City. If Gordon felt he had any authority he would march down to City Hall and tell the mayor exactly what he thought of Commissioner Atkins' work. But Garcia wasn't going to take that well, he'd likely tell Gordon to stop worrying and enjoy retirement.
He looked around him at the garden he had started. If this was retirement, he was fucking sick of it. He needed to do something else, gardening, jogging, and long walks were getting to be tedious and God he needed some excitement. He dug into his pocket and pulled out his cellphone. He scrolled through the list of names, every single person was either working at MCU, City Hall or Bruce Wayne.
Gordon hit the call button as it scrolled past Wayne's number. This was either the stupidest idea he ever had or the smartest. He was sure he wouldn't find out until later that day. The other line rang a few times and finally Wayne picked up.
“Jim?” he asked, surprised. “What can I do for you?”
Wayne had asked Gordon to meet him at Wayne Enterprises. The billionaire said he had a few meetings to take care of and then he'd be free for the rest of the afternoon. Gordon had his chance to just skip out on their, uh, lunch 'date' they set up, but he felt almost bad about doing that, so he opted to keep it. He was the one to call Wayne, after all. It wasn't like he had much to do today and he was curious to see if Wayne's obvious injuries he was hiding on Sunday were still around or if he was going to try to hide new ones. Well, he wasn't just curious, he was concerned.
When the hell did he start caring about what happened to Wayne? When Wayne showed that he cared more about your family than himself... and that was the truth. Wayne was starting to prove himself, whether he meant to or not. He was good with Gordon's kids, he knew how to cook, and when not surrounded by press, he was not the self-centered, money throwing, playboy the media claimed him to be. In fact, Wayne never once mentioned any women or dates, for that matter.
Wayne was definitely hiding something with all these falsehoods, the lies and deceit he fed to the media. Gordon was glad to be exempt from that now, happy to have been proven wrong about his assumptions of the billionaire. He just wished the younger man would open up about everything else he was keeping secret. Gordon wanted to be his friend, but first Wayne had to allow that.
Gordon stood in Wayne's office after his secretary had let him in, explaining that Mister Wayne would be back in a few minutes, he was still wrapping up a meeting. Gordon poked around Wayne's office, noting the view over looking more than half of the business district of Gotham. The office itself was brightly lit by the large window, decorated in mostly sleek black, his desk and bookcase build of black metal and glass. Gordon looked over the books he had on the shelf; mostly titles on economics, mechanics, business, and what looked like a few sketch pads.
Gordon pulled out one of the sketch pads and flipped through it. He couldn't really place what he was looking at, mostly pieces of things that probably made more sense if put together with someone else, mechanical mostly. Wayne's signature sat at the bottom of each sketch, and Gordon found himself completely baffled. He didn't peg Wayne as a man who had an artistic flare. He put the pad back and pulled out another. This was filled with drawings of buildings around Gotham, sketched and almost perfect.
The door opened and Gordon couldn't think fast enough to put the pad back. He looked up at the man who entered the office – at Wayne. He didn't seem upset though to find Gordon snooping around. He merely smiled and walked over to Gordon and looked over his shoulder at the drawing he was gazing at.
“Another one of those things that people don't need to know about Bruce Wayne,” the billionaire said casually. “My mother painted a lot, had a big love for art. I use to take an after school art class when I was younger. Until my father found out. He didn't think a boy should have such a love for art.”
Gordon raised an eyebrow at him, closing the pad of paper and putting it back on the bookshelf. “He obviously didn't know how good you'd be at it. They're quite good.”
Wayne shrugged. “More of a hobby than anything. I didn't pick it back up until a returned to Gotham.” Gordon gazed when he mentioned returning to Gotham; it had always been a mystery to everyone just exactly where Wayne had been for those seven years. No one asked and Wayne never offered any answers. It really wasn't anyone's business. A lot of media rumored he'd gone away to some detox camp for drugged out billionaires. Others said he just went to travel the world, extremely unsettled by the events surrounding Joe Chill. Gordon wasn't sure he believed either of them.
“Have you designed anything that's been in production, yet?” Gordon asked, curiously. After seeing some of the technical and mechanical drawings in the other pad, he was sure some of them had to have been placed into production.
“Well, not in bulk. A few items have been made, but they're mostly prototypes until we decide whether to go through with them or not,” Wayne explained, but he also didn't offer to point out which drawings had been sent into production, either. Obviously not something he wanted to share, so Gordon didn't push his luck. Wayne shimmied out of his jacket and loosened his tie, placing the jacket over the back of his chair. “So, lunch? Anywhere you'd like to go? There are a lot of places here in the business district, or we can drive to where ever.”
“Your pick. I don't know anything about the restaurants around here,” Gordon said. He looked at his own casual appearance and then at Wayne getting himself as comfortable as possible. “Maybe away from the business district. Something that doesn't require a jacket or tie.” Wayne laughed, not looking too ready to put his suit jacket back on or straighten his tie for that matter.
“Alright. I'm sure we can find a place downtown that would be perfect.”
They took Wayne's car to the downtown area, parking it at the public parking garage, and walking around for a bit. Neither of them had any idea where to go, Wayne suggested they just walk around a bit until something stuck out at them. Gordon wasn't in a hurry, if anything he was enjoying the unusual day out and not being alone. Some would say Wayne wasn't the best company to keep, but Gordon actually found him quite intriguing. Wayne had a good business sense about him, talking about the mergers Wayne Enterprises was going through, the buy out of businesses going under and what they were doing to help rebuild them and provide more jobs for the economy. Gordon was more than a little impressed.
They walked passed a small bistro and Gordon stopped. This one was vaguely familiar to him. It took him a few moments of staring at the menu to realize why. This was where he and Barbara shared their first dinner in Gotham together years ago. Wayne stopped next to him, peering at the menu. Most soups and salads, pastries, coffee – nothing too extreme. Wayne looked at Gordon approvingly, waiting to see if he wanted to eat here.
Move on, Jim. This will help the healing process. Gordon nodded at Wayne and the billionaire caught the attention of a waitress, who quickly seated them at a table outside, handing them the menus. Gordon knew he was just going to order a salad and probably more coffee. Always the coffee. Wayne seemed to know what he wanted and they ordered. Wayne, too, ordered just the salad.
“So, how has it been in the life of Jim Gordon these past few days?” Wayne asked. It had been three days since Wayne had been over at his house for dinner, and Gordon couldn't say they left on the best of terms, but Wayne seemed to be putting that aside or ignoring it. Gordon hadn't noticed him grimace in any pain today, so maybe it was a fluke thing – maybe it was golf. Having never played, Gordon wouldn't know.
“Boring. I had a doctors appointment yesterday. Was told I needed to change my diet again. Have to stay on the low fat end of things, apparently,” Gordon grumbled. The waitress brought out their coffees. Gordon added cream and sugar to his and watched as Bruce added, again, just sugar. He had to keep himself from reading too much into it. It's just coffee.
Wayne grinned at him, an genuinely friendly smile. “Well, we definitely don't need you getting another heart attack. I, for one, would be completely devastated.” He smirked slyly at Gordon.
Gordon took a sip of his coffee, looking at Wayne over the rim of his glasses. “Devastated, huh?”
“Completely,” Wayne said, taking a sip of his own coffee, hiding a mischievous smile behind the the brim. Gordon put his mug down and waited for Wayne to elaborate a little. Wayne put his mug down as well, hand still resting on the handle. “Who else would I cook with? Who would go have coffee with me? Who would feed me pancakes when Alfred wasn't looking?” Wayne moved his hands around with exaggeration, turning the whole sentimental value of what he was saying before into a big joke. But Gordon could tell that behind the jokes and sarcasm was still the same caring attitude. It was a little familiar to him, as if he had seen an felt it from someone else, someone who was not Bruce Wayne.
“I'm sure you'd find someone,” Gordon teased back. Wayne's face softened as he shifted in his seat, relaxing his posture.
“I don't think I'd want to.” Wayne sat back in his seat, his gaze didn't leave Gordon's, a long silent stretch that felt so right it almost awkward. Gordon flicked his eyes to his mug and brought up to his lips again as an excuse to break eye contact and the insecurity he was starting to feel in himself. When he looked back up again, Wayne was unbuttoning the cuffs on his sleeves and rolling them up. Gordon was happy to be wearing a light pair of pants and t-shirt, but Wayne looked to be getting a little hot.
“It's going to be a hot summer with the way spring has been warming up,” Gordon said, changing the subject. Wayne almost looked disappointed, but he didn't argue the switch in conversation.
“Let's hope not,” Wayne said. “Summer in Gotham is hot enough, any hotter and I –” Wayne stopped himself, furrowing his eyebrows and looking down at his hand that was grasping the handle of his coffee mug. He bit his lip, and Gordon raised an eyebrow in question.
“You'll what, Bruce?” he asked. Wayne blinked as he looked at Gordon again. A smile appeared on his face, but this one was more uncomfortable than before.
“I'll, uh, have to plan a trip to Hawaii,” he said, but Gordon had a feeling that wasn't what he was actually going to say. Wayne sighed, leaning his elbows onto the table, hands folded and brought up so that his chin was resting on them. “Jim, there's a few things you should really know...” he trailed off, seeing the waitress come with their salads. She placed them down in front of them and Gordon picked up his fork and looked at Wayne to continue. But he didn't.
“Bruce?” Gordon questioned. He had a feeling that the billionaire had something important to tell him, a piece of whatever the mystery was about him that would finally let everything make sense. Bruce shook his head, picking up his own fork and stabbing at the Cobb salad.
“It's not important,” he said, obviously having had thought over what he wanted to say. Gordon stared at the younger man a long time, watching him eat and trying to figure out exactly what was going on in his head. It was important, Gordon knew, and that was why Wayne didn't want to say anything. It was one of his bigger secrets, if not the biggest – Gordon was sure of that. Maybe he had to gain a little more of Wayne's trust in order for him to talk to Gordon more openly.
Whatever this secret was, it was obviously not something Wayne wanted taken lightly.
“So, um, Jim?” Wayne asked after a few minutes. He put his fork down and looked at the man apathetically. Gordon looked at him to continue on. He knew this had nothing to do with the previous conversation. “That charity auction is coming up. The guest list is getting to be, uhm, a lot of older rich ladies...” Wayne started to look uncomfortable, reaching up and loosening the two buttons on his collar. Gordon wanted to laugh. “You mentioned finding a friend to go in and bid on me, I think that was a smart idea.”
“Oh? I was kidding, you know, but I guess It could work. Who are you going to ask?” Gordon asked, stabbing at his salad again. Wayne didn't answer right away and Gordon looked back up at him as he was about to put a forkful of lettuce in his mouth. He started to shake his head, putting the fork down. “No, no, no. I meant a lady friend.”
Wayne sighed. “I don't really have any lady 'friends'. Most of them only want one thing, and... No,” he shook his head in annoyance. He looked at Gordon with his eyebrows wrinkled in, softening his eyes and giving him an all around puppy dog look. Gordon wanted to beat his head into the table for falling for such a dirty trick.
“Bruce...” He began, but the billionaire almost pouting at him. Gordon sighed. “Fine.” God, what was he getting himself into?
Chapter 11: Eleven
Gordon returned home later that afternoon. Babs was home already and working on her homework and Jimmy was in the living room watching television. Neither of them raised their head when he entered. He saw that the dishes had been done, the floors cleaned and vacuumed. He looked over Babs' shoulder, she was working on her Government. He then stood behind the couch, watching whatever Jimmy had on the television, some odd cartoon. Jimmy looked up at him, smiled and went back to his show.
“Home work done, son?” Gordon asked and Jimmy just nodded his head. Well, at least he was getting his work done without being asked to, and at least he acknowledged Gordon this time, where as in the past months he plain ignored everyone. “Good.”
He stood between the kitchen and the living room, suddenly aware that even though he had spent the entire day downtown with Wayne, there was still nothing to do. His kids did all the chores when they returned from school and all that was left was to think about making dinner. He sat down at the table next to Babs just as she closed her book and put her pencil down. She smiled at him, stretching her arms.
“Where you been?” she asked, taking a deep breath. Gordon shrugged his shoulders.
“Out. I didn't feel like sitting around the house all day, again.” He folded his hands on the table in front of him. Babs smirked at him. Despite their run in the other day with the man who broke into their house, she was doing well. She and Jimmy had learned to cope with people like that since the incident with Dent. Still, Batman offered to swing by once or twice a night to check the neighborhood, which was nice but not directly needed. Couldn't deny the vigilante – he would do it anyway.
“Bruce, again?” Babs asked, breaking his thoughts for a moment. Gordon narrowed his eyes on her, wondering how she might have guessed that. “Oh, come on, Dad. You're only other friends are Gerry, Harvey, and Renee, and they only come by when they need you. If you actually talked to them more I might assume one of them first.”
“Yes, I had lunch with Bruce,” Gordon admitted to his daughter. She shook her head, smiling.
“I like, Bruce. I think he brings out a good side of you,” Babs said as she put her books back into her backpack.
“What do you mean 'a good side' of me?” Gordon questioned, curiously. Babs picked up her backpack and placed it by the front door, walking back towards Gordon she wrapped an arm around his shoulder, taking a seat on his lap; it had been a long time since she'd done that. She looked down into Gordon's eyes seriously.
“Don't take this the wrong way, but since Mom died you've been sulking around the house like a man without any drive or passion. You were a real downer. But ever since we saw Bruce at the cemetery and invited him over, you've had a different air about you. You seem more relaxed, willing to have fun, teasing more.” She kissed him on the cheek. “You're back to being the 'Dad' before Mom died, just without all working.”
Gordon gazed at his daughter, searching her eyes and seeing that every word she said came directly from her heart. She was a smart kid, took notice of a lot of things and filed them away. She was a lot like him. If she ever wanted to be a detective, she'd be damn good at it; Gordon didn't wish that on her though. He hugged her tightly to him and then let her go, and she slid off his lap.
“It's a good thing, Dad. Trust me. You can invite Bruce over any time. Jimmy and I both find him entertaining and if he's a good friend to you, then that's even better.” Babs moved over to the kitchen counter and pulled a book from the row of cookbooks. She brought it back to the table and began to flip through it.
Gordon was still staring at his daughter. She looked up at him, blinked. “How'd you get to be so smart?” he asked her, crossing his arms over his chest and leaning back in the chair.
She laughed, flipping another page and looking through it. “I'm just observant. I guess if I inherited anything from you, it was that.” She flipped a few more pages. Gordon didn't respond. “So, what do you want to make for dinner tonight? I'm pretty sick of left over spaghetti.”
Gordon scooted his chair over next to her, looking over the book with her. This was another one of her mother's favorite cookbooks. “We'll have to go to the store if we want to make anything. There's no food in the house.”
Babs looked over at Gordon slyly. “Did you want to invite Bruce over? I'm sure he wouldn't mind helping again.” Gordon glared at her and her smile widened.
“He's actually busy this evening. Said he had an important meeting to attend,” Gordon answered. He wouldn't have minded Babs' proposal if Wayne had actually been free to come over. Gordon wasn't sure what important meetings a billionaire had to do in the evening, but he assumed it was a dinner meeting of some kind. Before he had even gotten to know Wayne, Gordon would have never guessed he even went to meetings. Gordon was quite impressed that Wayne had a lot more involvement in his companies than the media let on.
In fact, everything the media went on about with Wayne seemed to be a big lie. Wayne admitted that the last real date he had that he actually cared about had been over a year ago. He also mentioned not liking polo that much at all, and that Alfred had made him take it up. Gordon had thought it odd that Wayne's butler would even ask him to take up polo. Wayne said it was for appearances, that he was a billionaire who needed to get involved with things that billionaire's did. Gordon had thought that odd, too; there were much better things a billionaire could do to fit in with the hobnob society. There had to be something else to the polo bit, Gordon just couldn't place it.
“That's too bad,” Babs said. “Well, then why don't we just order out?” She closed the book. Gordon couldn't help but think she had been using the cookbook as a device to get her father to invite his new 'friend' over. “Pizza?”
Gordon sighed, digging into his back pocket for his wallet. “You and Jimmy pick, no fighting over it.” He handed her his credit card and she went off to discuss dinner with her younger brother. Gordon sighed; pizza was becoming a regular thing of the Gordon household. He knew he'd end up just eating salad in the refrigerator.
Later that evening Gordon stood out in the backyard, looking over the newly fixed window the man that had broken into their house had smashed. Things like this usually set a lot of people on edge with worry and concern, but for Gordon it wasn't anything new. This was Gotham after all, things like this – and worse – happened everyday. Even in his retirement he worried about the city and he just couldn't help it.
“Do you come out here just to see if I'm going to stop by?” came a familiar rasp from behind him. Gordon shrugged; he didn't turn around because he knew who it was, by voice alone and the chilling goosebumps that crawled on his skin every time the man's shadow was cast over him.
“Sometimes. It's a good thinking spot, too. Back here is a little more private than out front. Mrs. Thompson has been poking her nose around a lot more lately,” Gordon explained, shaking his head. He finally turned around, looking at the armor clad man standing next to Gordon's rose bushes. Batman just looked at him, as if to ask him to explain. Gordon sighed, placing on hand on his hip and the using the other to gesture in the air a bit. “Bruce Wayne has been by a few times and she's like every other woman in the city. She'd probably kill her own husband for the chance just to lick Wayne's feet.”
A rather congested sounding snort came from the Bat as he brought a gloved hand to his mouth to try and brush it off as a cough. Gordon placed his other hand on his hip and stared at the vigilante. He almost liked it better when Batman didn't laugh, smile or make sarcastic remarks at him. Almost. Who was he was kidding, he liked it. It showed a side of the man that he would have never thought existed. He knew the man loved – that was one thing that was obvious so many years ago when the Joker was on the loose – with Rachel Dawes....
Now why did that feel weird to think about? Hadn't that name been brought up just the other day with Wayne? Dawes had been pretty popular, having been the Assistant DA to Harvey Dent, and his fiancé. A lot of people new Dawes, but Gordon vividly remembered Batman being more than upset over her death when he found she didn't get out of the building before it blew. Exactly what had Dawes been to Batman? What exactly had Dawes been to Wayne? Gordon knew they had been friends, but had there been something more?
“Jim?” Batman asked, bringing Gordon out of his own thoughts. He was sure now that he was thinking this through a little too much, there couldn't be this much mystery around one man; and he wasn't talking Batman. Gordon sighed and Batman took a step closer to him. “Everything okay?”
“Just a lot on my mind. You'd think with being retired that there wouldn't be a lot to worry about.” Gordon went and down on the bench that over looked his slowly wilting garden. He hadn't been in the mood to tend to it lately, Babs would be disappointed when she saw.
“Your children?” Batman asked stepping around in front of the bench, facing Gordon.
“No,” Gordon said, looking up at Batman at the light from the porch caught the vigilante's eyes. Gordon gestured his hand in the air in some annoyance, as if he couldn't even believe the words about to come out of his mouth. “Bruce Wayne.”
Batman stared at Gordon, unmoving. His eyes were fixed on Gordon intensely, as if searching for an answer. Gordon expected some kind of scoff or another snort of laughter, but nothing ever came from the vigilante's mouth. Gordon clasped his hand in front of him, looking down at the dirt for a moment.
“I'm sure you know enough about Wayne, who doesn't?” Gordon started to say, and even then Batman didn't flinch or move. Gordon nodded, figuring Batman did. “Only eight, maybe nearly nine, when his parents died. I felt so bad for him. What child should have to go through the pain of seeing their parents shot and killed in front of their very eyes?” Gordon took off his glasses, rubbing his eyes with the fingers on his free hand. “That's beside the point. My point is, I know he doesn't do the things the newspaper and television media says he does, he's even admitted to most of that being lies. But I can't help but think that he's into some dangerous stuff – I'm not sure what, but it can't be good.”
Batman's stand stiffened, if that were even possible. “What makes you think that?”
Gordon placed his glasses back on the bridge of his nose. “He admits to having secrets. Noticed he was injured the other day. He claimed it was golf, but I don't need to be a golfer to know that you can't get an injury that causes that much pain from swinging a club.” Gordon placed both hands down on the bench, kicking at the dirt below his feet. “I know I shouldn't worry, he's a grown man. But I can't help but feel like I need to protect him, be there for him. That's probably how I got roped into helping him with that damn charity auction.”
“I'm sure he's not doing anything dangerous,” Batman said plainly. Gordon looked up at him again, curiously. “I can check in on him if you –”
Gordon cut him off. “No. You're probably right.” Gordon shook his head. “I'd just hate to see something awful happen to him like what happened to his parents. After seeing bits and pieces of who Wayne really is, he doesn't deserve that.”
“No one does,” Batman commented. He took a few steps over to Gordon, kneeling down in front of him so that they were just about face-to-face. “I don't think it's something you need to worry about though. From what I've seen Wayne has enough security to hold off a small army.”
But that wasn't really what Gordon was worried about with Wayne. If the injuries the man hadn't weren't golf related, or polo since he mentioned hating polo, then it could have been a number of things that might have even led to illegal activities. And those often led to the mob, gangs, druggies... every possible and horrible thing Gordon could think of. He knew Wayne didn't have security with him all the time, like that afternoon when they went out. Or at his dinner dates. Or at the Gordon house. In fact, he was sure the only time Wayne had security of any kind was when he was his office.
This wasn't worth talking about with Batman anymore. If Wayne was getting into something illegal, the last thing Gordon needed was Batman hot on his trail. There wasn't even any evidence the billionaire was doing any of that, so why worry the vigilante with such notions?
Gordon sighed again. Change of subject. “How's that case? I haven't heard from anyone at the PD since Monday. I guess they figure since I'm not on the force I must be out of the loop completely.”
Batman stood up again, pacing. Gordon wasn't sure he'd ever seen Batman pace; comforting somehow. “He's not talking, according to Stephens. Atkins won't allow any further interrogation and the man has his lawyer. He'd rather take all the jail time being thrown at him than give up the name of his boss.”
“A standstill. Again,” Gordon said. He had the feeling that Atkins wasn't giving anyone at MCU the proper time or paperwork to get the job done. If they took the time to break this guy down, then they would get the name of his boss in no time. Atkins was playing everything safe. One couldn't do that in Gotham City, you either took chances or you died from not trying hard enough. Gordon almost hoped it did kill the man, it would serve him right.
“I'm still searching, looking for others that might know something. But I'm starting to come up short, there isn't much left.” Batman squeezed his gloved hands tightly into fists, and Gordon could tell the case would only get worse before it got better.
“Maybe you need to look outside the box,” Gordon suggested, scooting over on the bench and motioning for Batman to sit. Batman took the few steps from Gordon and sat down. Gordon shifted his position so he was facing the vigilante. “You're checking all the officers at the PD, all the people who work for and used to work the crime labs, the investigation units. You know it's an inside job, the evident points to it. So what if its really right in front of you?”
Batman shook his head. “Jim, I know it's not you.”
Gordon rolled his eyes at the Bat and gave him a slightly offended push on the armor over his chest. “Not me,” Gordon said. “For Christ sake. I just meant that its likely going to be the person you least expect. Stephens, Montoya, and Bullock... I can vouch for them. But anyone else is fair game.”
They held each other's gazes for a moment longer than was usually comfortable. They both knew what the other was thinking, and that was how much the city really needed Jim Gordon. There was no one else so dedicated to their work than him. Hell, he might as well have been working while retired, consulting like old times with the vigilante no one knew was on their side. Gordon didn't want to say, didn't want admit it again, but Batman didn't let him.
“This city needs you, Jim,” Batman said somberly. They had let go of the eye contact yet, and even though Gordon felt he needed to, that he should, he didn't. Batman leaned towards Gordon, grabbing his left hand tightly. The rasp that he usually used vanished into a graveled whisper. “I need you. I can't keep doing this without you.”
Gordon thought for sure his heart had jumped into his throat, a lump forming so big that he couldn't even being to think about swallowing. He knew when he retired that it would be hard on everyone connected to him, and hardest of all on Batman. They had become partners in a war with the city that was never going to end, and yet they managed through for five years – even with the hunt for Batman on going. He really should have known better than to assume the vigilante would go on as if nothing had changed.
“But you'll have to,” Gordon answered, finding himself gravitating inches closer to Batman, his hand still firmly grasped between strong leathered fingers. Gordon felt a lightness in his chest, and fought his free hand for a place to rest until it found its way to Batman's left arm. Batman breathed a strangled sigh, as if debating with himself, the same inner emotions that Gordon feeling toiling around in his stomach. The Bat's gloved left hand was hovering dangerously next to Gordon's face.
“I don't want to,” Batman growled, biting the tip of his glove with his teeth and tossing it to the ground. He reached over again and this time his fingertips grazed Gordon's face in the gentler touch than he had expected. Batman's hand was completely over the right side of Gordon's face, thumb caressing his cheek, as their an unstoppable force seemed to bring their faces together, almost...
“Dad?” Gordon heard Jimmy say from the back door. Batman had immediately stood, picking up his glove and putting it back on. Jimmy walked out the door, the phone in his hands. He looked at Batman slowly, a smile growing on his face. He handed the phone to his father. “Phone call.”
Chapter 12: Twelve
Gordon woke the next morning completely dumbstruck by what had happened the night before. He and Batman were close friends, been there for each other through a lot, Batman had been there to comfort him when had Barbara died. He couldn't look himself in the mirror, however, and tell himself he didn't feel something for the vigilante, and when he did try, it felt like a lie. He began to wonder, as he trimmed his mustache and shaved the rest of his face, just how long he had felt this way. Surely not before Barbara had died; he had never so much as even looked at another woman, let alone anyone for that matter. A couple months then, he thought, if that.
But the fact was it was Batman – he almost kissed Batman. A man who clearly cared about Gordon and his family, and as much as Gordon thought trying to pursue that action again might be interesting, he knew he couldn't let that happen. He knew nothing about Batman aside from what the vigilante showed him. Gordon didn't know his real name, what he looked like under the cowl, what he did for a living during the day. Gordon wasn't looking for something to invest only part of himself into, and that what getting involved with Batman would be like. Gordon, if he was going to give himself to anyone, he want to be able to give it all and have it returned.
He was sure Batman would understand that. So why did he feel that he still wanted to press forward with testing the water there? He knew it wasn't something he wanted, because Batman couldn't give him what he needed, and yet there was this inkling to just do it.
Looking himself over in the mirror as he rinsed his face, Gordon felt more confused. He knew that Barbara would want him to be happy, to move on. But it wasn't Barbara he felt he was betraying here, and he couldn't quite place the feeling he was having. He sighed, dried his face and walked out into the living room. He'd face the situation head on when it presented itself again. If it presented itself again; who knew what Batman was thinking.
That Saturday Gordon woke to the feeling of someone watching him. He didn't open his eyes, he merely covered his head with his pillow and buried himself deeper into the covers. He told Babs last night he wasn't in the mood for a run that morning and that he really just wanted to sleep in. He was feeling a big down since Batman hadn't been by since that evening they almost kissed. Maybe Gordon wasn't the only one feeling a tad regretful. Or maybe Batman just wasn't sure what Gordon was thinking. A few days apart couldn't hurt the situation and yet Gordon still felt a bit depressed about it; he didn't want this to ruin their friendship.
There was an impatient sigh a few feet from his head, and Gordon finally peeked out from under his pillow, looking at a tall blurry figure in front of him. He reached over to the nightstand, palmed his glassed and forced them on his face. He pushed back the pillow further and found he now face-to-face with Bruce Wayne. The billionaire was kneeling down by the side of the bed, a smile plastered on his handsome features, looking at Gordon with a raised eyebrow.
“He lives,” Wayne said, a little too unimpressed. He stood, pacing back a few steps. Gordon raised himself up to his elbows, looking at Bruce groggily.
“How long have you been standing there?” he asked, bringing a hand up under his glasses to wipe at his eyes.
“About ten minutes,” Wayne said, looking at his watch. Gordon blinked, throwing his legs over the side of the bed, hands on his knees. He was such a light sleeper, he was surprised by himself that he didn't notice Wayne standing there sooner. He looked up at Wayne in confusion.
“Ten minutes? I must be losing my touch,” Gordon sighed. Wayne had his hands in his pockets and was now smirking at Gordon, as if he knew something he didn't. “What time is it?”
“Little after eight,” Wayne replied, handing Gordon his robe from the chair by the bed. Gordon took it, stood, and wrapped it around himself. He blinked a few times at Wayne, who was still smirking like an idiot.
“And you're here this early why?” Gordon asked motioning him out the door. Wayne walked out into the hall and Gordon followed, shuffling as he was still trying to wake up.
“I'm here to take you shopping for next Saturday,” Wayne replied. Gordon sighed, next Saturday... what was next Saturday? Oh, right the auction. He still needed to talk to Wayne about that, it just was not going to work.
“Yeah, about that, Bruce,” Gordon started to say as they walked into the kitchen. Babs and Jimmy were up and dressed and eating donuts at the kitchen table. Gordon looked to Wayne with a scowl. “You brought donuts?”
Wayne shrugged. “I called before I came over and Jimmy said to bring donuts. I know it's not in your diet, so if you don't want to cheat this one day, I'll be happy to make you something.” He stopped at a chair by the table, leaning a hand on it casually. Gordon stared at Wayne in a good amount of disbelief. He wasn't sure if he was dreaming or if Bruce Wayne had just offered to make him breakfast in his own home.
“Excuse me? You're going to what?” Gordon asked, shaking his head a little as he tried rid his head of the sleep still bogging him down.
“Breakfast, Jim. Do you like omelets?” Wayne walked over to the refrigerator and opened it, pulling out eggs Gordon didn't know they had, cheese, and chopped ham he was sure wasn't in there last night. The billionaire even brought his own damn ingredients.
“Uh, yes, I do. Bruce you don't –” Gordon started to say but Wayne walked up to him and put his palm firmly over Gordon's mouth, looking at him pointedly.
“Sit down, drink your damn coffee, and shut up,” Wayne said sternly. He removed his hand and pushed Gordon down into a chair at the table. There was a steaming cup of coffee sitting there with just the right amount of cream and sugar. Babs smiled at him as she ate he apple fritter and Jimmy was laughing at the way Bruce took charge and Gordon had let him.
“Don't get any ideas,” Gordon said to his son, and Jimmy just grinned wider. Bruce, it seemed, had an excellent memory and remembered where they kept their bowls, silverware, and pans. Gordon watched as the billionaire whipped together the eggs for the omelet, adding in the cheese and ham and then poured in into the pan as if he did this on a regular basis.
“Bruce said he's taking us all to the downtown mall today, Dad,” Jimmy said with some enthusiasm. It was the most excited Gordon had seen his son in months.
“That so?” Gordon asked, looking from his son to Wayne, who looked over at him briefly, but didn't show any emotion over the subject.
“Mhm,” Babs chimed in, and she too looked just as exciting as Jimmy did about going. The downtown mall was one of those shopping centers they had never been to, and for good reason – it was the where only the very wealthy shopped, no one else could afford to spend money there. Gordon sighed inwardly and sipped his coffee as he glared at Bruce. If the billionaire thought he could afford to shop there, he was more delusional than Gordon actually thought.
Wayne plated the omelet, grabbed and fork, and placed it on the table in front of Gordon. He then took his cup of coffee from the counter and sat down next to Gordon, motioning at the eggs sitting on the plate. Gordon poked at him, almost sad to see such a beautiful creation (something he had never been able to make correctly) be eaten. He cut into the eggs with his fork and took a bite. He looked at Wayne and shook his head.
“Damn you,” he cursed as he took another bite, and Wayne just smiled slyly at him, sipping his coffee.
They arrived at Downtown Gotham Plaza a little over an hour later, once Gordon had showered and gotten dressed. Jimmy told them he was going to go check out the six gaming stores and Babs opted to stay with them. Gordon didn't mind, it took his mind off the auction next weekend for a little bit. That was until they walked into one of the more prestigious suiting shops in Gotham. Wayne walked over to the sales lady, as if he knew her, and motioned to Gordon. She smiled politely and Wayne motioned Gordon and Babs over.
The lady took Gordon's measurements and then went to find him a suit that would work. Wayne was sitting down next to Babs in the waiting chairs just outside dressing room area. Gordon stood on one of the fitting platforms in front of them, uncomfortably. He glared at Wayne as the woman brought him out a sleek black tux and ushered him into a room to try it on. Gordon sighed as he shut the door and began to strip down. The woman said something to Wayne and then the clicking of her heels as she walked away from the fitting rooms.
“Doing okay, Jim?” Wayne called from outside the door. Gordon was removing his own pants and t-shirt, staring at all the buttons on the tailored suit shirt the woman had given him to try on with the suit. There were more pieces to the tux than he had ever worn before. Jacket, vest, cummerbund, suspenders, pants, belt... Gordon didn't even want to think what this was going to cost him.
“Fine,” Gordon replied, slipping the pants on, and attempting to button the twenty buttons on the shirt. “Do I really have to try on all the accessories?” This would take forever.
“Yes. That's the point of trying it on. You won't know if its a good fit if you don't,” Wayne said pressingly. Gordon sighed and put vest on, buttoning that, and then the suspenders. After a few minutes Wayne spoke again; “Do you need some help, Jim?” There was a sly tone to his voice, and Gordon opened the door and glared at him, having just put the last piece of the suit on.
“No,” he growled at the billionaire. Gordon stepped out of the room, hands on his hips. Wayne pushed Gordon's arms down, and straightened the suit around the shoulders and arms, tugging at the bottom of the jacket sleeves, and smoothing down the lapels.
“How's it fit in the waist?” Wayne asked in a lower tone, his fingertips just brushing the waistband of the slacks. Gordon nearly jumped, his eyes meeting Wayne's for the first time since he had walked out of the dressing room.
“Fine,” Gordon replied, mimicking Wayne's tone. What he had meant to say was 'where is sales lady' but his brain didn't compute it in time, and Wayne was already saying something else.
“And the rise?” Wayne questioned, his hand was on Gordon's hip, and his tone had gotten remarkably lower. Wayne had an intense gaze in his eyes, and Gordon found he just couldn't look away; it was familiar and powerful, and like drowning but being able to breathe.
“Fine,” Gordon replied again as their faces were just centimeters apart. Wayne brought his other hand to Gordon's face, fingers wrapping around the back of his neck and pulling his head in closer until their lips touched softly. There was nothing needy there, just a delicate brush of lips, small kisses against each other's mouths, slowly paced and down right perfect. Gordon placed a hand on Wayne's chest to part them slightly, their eyes meeting again. They heard the clicking of heels approaching and Wayne pulled away from him completely, but didn't let their gaze falter.
The woman came walked into the area and looked Gordon over approvingly. “I think this tuxedo suits you very well. Does it fit comfortably?” Gordon looked at her and then at Wayne who was covering his smirk with his hand.
“Yes, it fits perfectly,” Gordon answered, walking back into the dressing room to take the suit off. He took all the pieces off and placed them on the hanger and dressed back into his own clothing. He walked out and handed it to the lady, who went to the back of the store to find a garment bag for it.
Gordon was going to say something to Wayne, but saw that he had left. So, Gordon walked back out to the waiting area and saw that Wayne and Babs were sitting again, looking through catalogs at dresses. Babs was pointing out a few beautiful gowns, looking up when Gordon was standing in front of them. Babs smiled and Wayne looked up at him, flashing him a crooked little grin.
“I'm not sure I can afford that tuxedo,” Gordon said, sighing. Wayne shook his head at him, standing.
“Don't worry about it. I roped you into this auction, I'll take care of it,” Wayne said, placing a hand on Gordon's shoulder. He put his free hand out to Babs and she handed him the catalog. “Was it the purple one you wanted?” Gordon moved his gaze from Babs to Wayne, and the billionaire smiled. “I got to thinking about how awkward the auction was going to be for you, not even three months after your wife's...” Wayne gestured a 'you know' hand movement, not wanting to offend. “So, I asked that Babs accompany you to the auction. It'll seem less weird if she does the bidding.”
Gordon felt his mouth drop open a bit. His first thought was that Babs was underage, but then he remembered his daughter had recently turned eighteen. It would look weird either way, but less so than a fifty something year old ex-commissioner bidding on a thirty-five year old billionaire, playboy. He looked at Wayne and then to Babs, who smiled pressingly at him. Obviously she didn't mind, and it would be her first official Gotham party.
And Gordon had to say he felt a little relieved to know that he wouldn't be making a total fool of himself bidding on Bruce Wayne.
“Jim?” Wayne asked, squeezing his shoulder. Gordon nodded and gave Wayne a sincere smile. The billionaire took the catalog and left to go find the sales lady. Gordon sat down next to Babs and she wrapped her arms around his bicep, laying her head on his shoulder.
“You smell like Bruce,” she mentioned, but not making a big deal of it. Gordon looked down at her out of the corner of her eyes.
“He was, uh, helping me with the suit,” Gordon commented as he stumbled for the words. Babs snuggled her head onto his shoulder a little more.
“I like Bruce, Dad. He really has been good for you. I definitely see an improvement,” Babs said softly, almost a whisper to him, hugging his arm tighter. He had heard her say things like this before, but it was always nice to hear when one of his kids took notice
“Improvement from what?” he asked her in the same whisper.
They spent the rest of the afternoon at the mall, returned home and Wayne helped them make dinner, which happened to be some chicken casserole dish that Babs picked out of one of her mother's cookbooks. It turned out well, but Babs and Wayne didn't let Gordon or Jimmy help out at all. After dinner Wayne said he needed to get going before he had another earful from Alfred, which Gordon had heard about the other day. Jimmy and Babs said their goodbyes and Gordon walked Wayne outside.
Gordon shut the door behind him, faced with Wayne in front of him, not even two feet away. They hadn't had a moment to themselves the rest of the day to talk about what happened in the dressing room. Wayne, for once, looked uncomfortable as Gordon looked him over curiously. Wayne finally tipped his head to the side slightly, one hand in his pocket.
“I don't want to start anything that you aren't comfortable with,” Wayne said quietly. He kept his distance, obviously afraid that maybe he had stepped over a line earlier that day. If that was the case, Gordon would have pushed him away, told him no – he hadn't done that. Gordon was surprised, to say the least, but it all felt right. Maybe this was what he had been feeling earlier in the week when he nearly kissed Batman, maybe Wayne was the person he felt he'd be betraying.
There was a lot of things, however, Gordon was worried about and wanted to know about Wayne before they stepped any closer to something more serious – things he wasn't sure Wayne was willing to divulge. Gordon wanted to know about the injuries, the trouble Wayne obviously got himself into. Gordon didn't buy the golfing lies.
“It's not a matter of being comfortable, it's a matter of trust and taking things at an slow pace,” Gordon said, folding his arms over his chest, keeping his eyes on Wayne. The billionaire seemed confused, raising his eyebrows, a gesture for Gordon to explain. “I'm not ready to rush into anything, you know that, and I know that you're respectful of that. And there's also this...” Gordon squinted his eyes to try and find the best way to explain to Wayne the things he'd observed over the past few weeks. “This issues of trust. I know you keep your secrets, I've seen first hand that you have quite a few you don't tell anyone. For good reason, too, I assume.”
“What are you getting at, Jim?” Wayne asked, confusion still written on his face, but in his eyes Gordon saw that he understood more than he was letting on. Gordon stepped towards Wayne, closing the distance between them.
“If you want anything from me you're going to have to be openly honest and truthful. I don't want any of these lies you feed to the press, I don't want to be the person you tell half truths to until you're tired of telling them anything at all. If you really are serious about this and you want my friendship and my trust and my honesty then you're going to have to give me the same.” Gordon watched as something clicked in Wayne's eyes, as if he was aware that Gordon knew he wasn't always completely honest with him. Gordon didn't expect an answer right away, because for a man like Wayne, who lied often to keep his real personal life out of the media, it would take some thinking over.
Gordon placed his hands on either side of Wayne's arms, seeing a vulnerability in the younger man's face. It would be wrong, or at least feel wrong, to date a man a good fifteen years or more younger than himself... he was almost old enough to be his father. That didn't seem to bother Gordon in the least, though. And it obviously didn't bother Wayne.
“Think it over, son,” he found himself saying, watching a light flicker in Wayne eyes at the words. “I'll be here if you want to talk this week. If nothing else, Babs and I will see you next Saturday.” Gordon wanted it apparent that even if Wayne didn't want to pursue what he started that morning in the store, Gordon would still be there for him if he needed him. Wayne nodded. Gordon lowered his hands from the billionaire's arms.
“Goodnight, Jim,” Wayne said, grasping Gordon's hand tightly for a second before letting go. He walked away, hands in his pockets, to his car.
For Gordon, the bigger question was how to explain this to Batman.
Chapter 13: Thirteen
A week passed before Gordon heard from Wayne again. It was Saturday, the day of the auction. Gordon was a bit disappointed when the billionaire didn't call sooner that week to talk; he had been so sure that Wayne would have wanted to, if he was really serious about starting some kind of relationship. Maybe Gordon had read too much into the kiss shared; maybe Wayne just wanted a friend with benefits and nothing else. Gordon wasn't about to give that and he couldn't just assume that was Wayne's intentions, because it didn't feel like something the billionaire would do – not to Gordon. Maybe there was would some answers tonight after the auction, and if not Gordon was going to confront him one last time before he let the subject go altogether.
There were other things that worried Gordon as well, and that was Batman. Gordon had not seen the vigilante for almost a week and half. He knew that Batman had been around though, checking the neighborhood as he promised, but he hadn't stopped by in a while even when Gordon was out front waiting. He tried to not think too much about it. Batman would always be his friend no matter what happened – even when he told him about Wayne, he knew the Bat would understand. Wouldn't he? Or maybe he already knew and it was why he was avoiding the Gordon house all together.
Things like this would sort themselves out over time and Gordon couldn't waste another moment thinking about it. There were other things to focus on today and that was getting his nerves set for the auction and making sure Babs understood the rules of bidding. He still wasn't completely comfortable with the idea of Babs being there with him, the smirks and hushed whispers that would be going hand-in-hand while people saw him would be bad enough; what were people going to think about him taking his daughter to a bachelor auction?
Or worse, what would people think when Babs started to bid on Bruce Wayne?
He wasn't sure why he had thought of or voiced these concerns earlier to Wayne, as he might have been able to get out of the auction all together, but he was bit stuck now and wasn't about to go back on a promise. And the billionaire did buy him a nice tux to wear and Babs a beautiful evening gown. What use was it trying to escape an inevitable humiliation anyway?
“Dad?” Babs called just outside the bathroom door. Gordon was had just finished giving himself a clean shave and trimming his mustache. He had only his towel around his waist; nothing his daughter hadn't seen before. He sighed, opening the door with one hand as he grabbed for his comb from the drawer with the other. Babs poked her head in, giving him a soft smile. “You aren't even dressed yet?”
He was parting his hair to the side when she said it, and he gave her long, sideway glance. She shook her head, stepping into the bathroom and taking the comb from him. She began to comb his hair back, instead of the side, squirting some of Jimmy's hair gel into her hand from the bottle on the counter and gently ran her fingers through Gordon's hair. She fixed the back with a little bit more gel, holding the stray wisps down behind his ears and fixing a few pieces of the front of hair to fall gently on his forehead. She smiled thoughtfully at him.
“There,” she said, picking up his glasses off the counter and putting them on his face. He looked past her and at the mirror and nearly rolled his eyes at way she styled his hair. “What? It looks good.”
“It's a bit young looking for a father of two who's over fifty,” Gordon commented as he tried to move pieces of his hair. Babs slapped his hands away, fixing it back to how she had had it. He dropped his hands to his side and sighed.
“I think it makes you look distinguished,” came a matured male voice from behind Babs. Wayne pushed his hand against the bathroom door, opening it further. He was dressed in shiny black tux, bow tie, the whole getup that Gordon had to put on in a few minutes. Bruce's suit was much classier, however, with gold buttons and cuff-links. Babs gave Gordon a big, cheesy grin and slipped past Wayne and into the hall.
“I'm going to go get ready,” she called as she made her way down to her room. Wayne stepped into the bathroom, hands in his pockets, and looking Gordon over from head-to-toe, twice. Gordon gave Wayne a non-too-pleasing look as his bluntness. Wayne smiled slyly at him, a grin that stretched across his perfect complexion with ease. Gordon expected some sort of come on; a touch, a whispered word – something. But Wayne didn't say anything, just kept his eyes on Gordon's. Maybe the billionaire didn't want to explain himself just yet, if at all, so he was keeping everything to himself.
“You can't go like that,” Wayne finally said after a long, quiet moments of them simply staring at each other. Wayne gestured to Gordon's towel. “This event is 'clothes required'.”
Gordon glared at him, shaking his head at the remark as Wayne started to laugh at him. Gordon didn't say a word, he pushed past Wayne, into the hall, and then to his bedroom. He stalked to the closet and pulled out the suit Wayne had bought him a week ago. He placed it on the bed, unbuttoning the shirt and removing all the pieces he would have to put on. He put the long sleeved tuxedo shirt on and began to button, turning around to see Wayne leaning in the door way, one shoulder resting on the frame, arms folded over his chest.
“You make it a habit of watching people get dressed?” Gordon asked, raising an eyebrow at Wayne as he began to button the shirt. Wayne shook his head and entered the room, shutting the door behind him. He stopped in front of Gordon and took over buttoning his shirt for him.
“No, just you,” Wayne said without emotion. Gordon watched Wayne's eyes, hoping the younger man would look at him, but Wayne's gaze was fixed on each button as his long, delicate fingers worked each one into the corresponding holes. When finished he button the cuffs, straightened the collar. Their eyes didn't meet until Gordon was nearly dressed, the last bit he needed to put on was the jacket and bow tie. Wayne put the jacket behind Gordon's shoulder, allowing him to put his arms through the sleeves. Wayne smoothed down the lapels and then took the tie and began to work it around Gordon's neck and it was then their eyes grazed.
“Bruce,” Gordon started and Wayne shook his head as he finished tying the fabric into a bow. Wayne tugged on various parts of the tuxedo, straightening the fabric, looking Gordon over approvingly. Gordon tried again. “Bruce?”
He heard Wayne's breath catch in his throat as he looked Gordon in the eye one more time. Gordon wasn't expecting an answer, or even touch; all he wanted was to know they were still on good terms, that no matter what, they're friendship was still intact. Wayne bit his lower lip, his hand snaking around the side of Gordon's neck, their foreheads touching. Gordon went to speak but Wayne shook his head again.
“I promise that after this evening you will have all your questions answered. Nothing will be held back, nothing will be kept secret,” Wayne whispered. “Let's just get through this evening's event first.”
Wayne gave Gordon the information to an account he had set up for Gordon in his name. There was a million dollars in the account and only Gordon and Wayne could access it. The auction would require money directly after the event was over, but Gordon would be able to make check out from the account from the book of checks Wayne gave him. How Wayne was able to obtain Gordon's information to get this account in his name, he'd probably never know and didn't want to know. He pocketed the book and then helped Babs out of the car as they made their way into the Hotel's ballroom, where in a about half an hour the auction would start. Gordon presented the doorman with the invite Bruce had given them.
They then walked through the door and into the ballroom. Things were decorated in black and silver and flutes of champagne were being handed out before hand. Gordon had to give Babs and warning look when a waiter asked if she wanted one, and she declined. Gordon couldn't help but notice that most of the people there were, in fact, older women recently widowed or divorced. Gordon saw very few men, but it wasn't surprising. The youngest woman there was Babs, and someone actually approached them, curiously.
“Why, if it isn't Jim Gordon,” the woman said, offering her hand to Gordon, and he shook it politely. She looked at Babs and smiled wearily. “Is... this your daughter?” She had a lot of disbelief behind her voice, as if trying to figure out why a man would bring his own just barely legal daughter to a bachelor auction. Gordon was beginning to wonder the same.
“Yes, this is my daughter Barbara,” Gordon started to say, and then Babs pushed herself into the conversation, holding her own hand out for the woman to shake.
“Yes, hi. We're here to support the Cure for Lung Cancer charity. My mother died of lung cancer a few months ago and we thought that since Dad was given an invite from a friend, we might as well put it to good use,” Babs explained, thinking quick on her toes. Or maybe she had just thought this through before hand. “We raised a lot of money doing some events at my school for the cause and we made a deal with one of the bachelors and he said if we won he would match the donation dollar for dollar.”
Gordon turned his head to look at Babs and she smiled politely at the woman who was nodding her head, impressed. “That's so wonderful. I am so sorry to hear about your mother. I do hope you win, dear.” She patted Babs on the arm and winked at Gordon as she eyed him approvingly. Gordon let out a breath when the woman was gone and Babs began to laugh.
“Bruce is not going to happy,” Gordon mumbled to her. “Dollar for dollar?”
“Well, hopefully we don't spend more than a couple thousand on him and it won't be so bad,” she said, grabbing hold of Gordon's arm. “He isn't likely to get a lot of bids is he?”
“Uhm, well...” Gordon started to say, letting out a nervous laugh. “Let's just say I doubt half these women are here to buy middle class guy who works at the deli.” He pointed at the wall with the line up of bachelors with pictures and stats on it. Babs stepped closer, wincing at all the pictures and faces. Some weren't too bad.
“Well, they all aren't too bad looking. But I do see your point. Bruce is the only one that would be worth bidding on...” She looked around the room, knowingly, at all the older women. “... If you're nearly sixty and need collagen.” Gordon gave her a look to keep her voice down, even though no one heard her over the loud chatter of voices around them. She giggled, taking his arm again.
A man came around and handed them a paddle for bidding. They were number eight. He handed the paddle to Babs and they stood around the stage with everyone else and waited. Once everyone had their paddles, the lights went down and the host of the evening, who happened to be beautiful blond model that the Wayne Foundation probably hired to bring in more bachelors. The first man introduced was a young doctor, blond and blue eyed, tall. Gordon kept watching his daughter out of the corner of his eye.
Babs never had a boyfriend, or not one she ever told him about, and he just assumed she didn't because she was home all the time and never took phone calls from anyone but her girl friends. Seeing her looking so intently at man a good ten years older than her made him boil a little, mostly because he hadn't had to deal with this yet. It was like being thrown into a pit of lava after being in a tub of ice cold water. Every now and then Babs looked ready to put her paddle up for a handsome young lawyer, or stock broker, and Gordon had to put a hand on her shoulder to stop her.
“I'm not going to, Dad,” she would say over and over again, but he kept doing it until she stopped looking at the bachelors all together. She gave him an annoyed frown.
It seemed like hours before they got to Wayne, and of course he was the last one of the evening. The woman hosting held the microphone to her face, looking down at her cards and began to rattle off some absurd facts about Wayne that both Babs and Gordon had to laugh at. Things like enjoying long walks on the beach, romantic candle-lit dinners, and expensive restaurants. All things that could be true if you didn't know Wayne at all, but they did. Wayne preferred the simpler things, to take away from the way he had to live his life as billionaire playboy.
Finally, Wayne walked out onto the stage, the fake bright smile on his face that he always wore for the media. He strutted the stage, hands in his pockets, and then stopped next to the model, winking at her. Gordon almost felt jealous. The model put her hand to her chest and fanned herself with her cue cards.
“Oh, well...” She cleared her throat. “Let's start the bidding at five thousand.” A paddle to Gordon's left went up, then another and another and before they even had a chance to bid, the amount was already up to one hundred thousand dollars. Babs quickly poked her paddle in the air.
“Two hundred thousand,” she said and most of the women around them scoffed at her, but no one bid against her. Gordon looked to the stage and saw Wayne grinning at him, his gaze intense as if thinking things over in his mind. Gordon could tell his mind wasn't really in the auction.
“Two hundred thousand going once, going twice,” the model said, looking around to see if anyone was going to bid against Babs and all the women were obviously out of money and glaring at Babs. “Sold to the young lady. Number Eight.” The model smiled at Babs approvingly, as if to say she had good taste for girl so young.
One of the older women, she had to be at least Gordon's age, started to yell from across the room when she saw it was Babs that had won the auction. “You're barely even old enough to date, you little twit.” She stalked over to them and upon seeing Gordon she narrowed her eyes on him. “How can you even let your daughter bid? Wayne is nearly twenty year older than her!”
Gordon was completely taken back. “My daughter is eighteen, she can do what she wants. I don't think it's any place of yours –” the woman had stopped listening and was yelling at Babs, rather disrespectfully and Babs was trying to explain that it was charity and say the whole thing she had obviously rehearsed from early, all over again. The woman wasn't listening and called Babs a rather crude name and then proceeded to slap her across the face, calling her a tramp.
Gordon wasn't quick enough to step in front of the two before Babs threw down the paddle, balled up her fist and threw a punch right at the lady's nose, sending her reeling backwards. The woman lost her footing for a second, and then was right back in Babs' face, slapping her again and pulling at her long, blond hair. Babs tackled the woman to the floor and began punching her face. By this time other women were watching but not doing anything. Gordon was grabbing his daughter by the arms and pulling her up and Wayne had dashed off the stage and was helping the other lady to her feet.
Babs was struggling against Gordon's strong grip, her hair in shambles around her head. “You fucking bitch!” she yelled at the woman, and Gordon pulled her closer, arm around her shoulder and hand over her mouth. The lady scoffed at her as Wayne made sure she was alright. The lady looked at Wayne affectionately. Gordon held Babs back more as she gritted her teeth, trying to get away. There was a lot of pent up anger there that Gordon had never know his daughter was capable of. He wasn't sure what set her off, but it could have been the name calling or any of the other things the woman had said to her that Gordon didn't quite catch.
The lady was talking with Wayne and he was explaining to her that its just an auction and there is always next year if it did well this year and then he thanked her for her time. She seemed nicer after he talked to her, but she still scowled at Babs.
“Little child shouldn't have won,” she said to Wayne. He turned to look Babs and Gordon and then back to the lady. It was then that Gordon realized that Babs had already talked to Wayne about the plan she schemed up earlier, about her school and the charity for her mother.
“She's donated the money she bid tonight to the Cure for Lung Cancer charity. I made a deal with her that if she was able to win the auction with the maximum amount of money she had raised on her own, that I would match it,” Wayne explained to the lady. She looked over at Babs, still scowling, but a little less intense.
“Does that mean you're still available for a date then?” She remarked snidely. Wayne shook his head.
“No,” he said and walked away from the lady and approached Babs and Gordon. Babs still had her hands balled into tight fists, a splattered of blood on her white satin, gloved knuckles. Wayne put an arm around her and lead her and Gordon out of the room. He pushed a combination code of numbered into lock on the door and ushered them inside. He sat Babs down on a chair and checked her over for any injuries, but Gordon was sure Babs got more in on the other lady than the lady got in on Babs.
“Sorry,” she said to Wayne when he didn't say much to her as he checked to see if she was okay. He knelt down in front of her and shook his head.
“What happened?” he asked softly and she looked at Gordon for a moment and he gestured her to tell Wayne.
“She called me a name and then slapped me, so I hit her back. And then she made a remark about my mom and the dad too. It wasn't very nice,” Babs explained. “She continued to call me names as well and how I was a slut...” At that Wayne put his hand up to stop her and then hugged her. Gordon hadn't been aware the lady made any remark about him or her mother, but then again they were garbling offenses at one another to the point that no one could hear them.
Wayne let go of her and stood. “You should watch that temper Miss Gordon, it could get you into a lot of trouble.” He smiled at her and she shrugged, knowingly. “I'm gonna take you're Dad to pay for his auction. We'll be back in a bit.” He winked at her and then took Gordon by the arm as he lead him out.
Gordon and Babs arrived back home an hour or so later. Babs walked back to her bedroom, saying she was going to get dressed for bed and the lay down and read for a bit. Gordon had said that was fine. He'd talk to her more later about her outburst at the auction, but she seemed so tired and a little bruised, that he didn't want to bug her with it just now. He unraveled the tie from around his neck and tossed it on the kitchen table and then removed the jacket and placed it over the back of a chair. He placed his hands over the jacket, grasping the chair and looking out into the front yard, at the porch and the car that was pulling into the driveway.
Gordon had thought the billionaire had forgotten what he said earlier and would try to shimmy his way out of telling Gordon anything. Apparently he was wrong. Gordon walked to the front door and opened it. He leaned against the door frame and waited. Wayne strolled up in long, quick strides and a smile planted firmly on his face.
“Waiting for me?” he asked as Gordon pushed the door open further for him to walk in. Wayne walked past him and into the living room, followed by Gordon, who kicked the door shut behind him.
“I saw your car,” he said as he walked up behind Wayne, arms folded over his chest. Wayne turned around sighed contently at him, and for a few long moments they didn't say anything. Gordon wasn't going to ask or make any first moves; he had told Wayne last week what he expected.
“Kids in bed?” Wayne asked, looking around the empty living room.
“Jimmy is at a friend's house and Babs went to bed early,” Gordon explained casually. The house wasn't too big, a lot of voices usually carried, and Wayne seemed to be thinking of a private place they could go. “We can go some where, I'll just let Babs know I'll be back later.”
Wayne nodded. “That might be best for what we need to talk about.” The serious tone in Wayne voice almost made Gordon not want to hear whatever it was he had to say. But it was needed and Gordon's curiosity was getting the best of him. He nodded at Wayne and then walked down the hall to Babs' room.
He knocked on her door and she poked her head out a second later. “Dad?”
He dug around in his pocket and handed her the cellphone that Batman had give him. “I'm going out with Bruce for a little bit. You have my cell number and if anything happens, don't hesitate to use this.” She took the phone and nodded. She leaned and kiss his cheek.
“Have a good time, Dad,” she said and shut the door. Gordon walked back down the hall, and motioned his head to Wayne that they could go. Wayne held the door for Gordon and they walked down the porch to Wayne's car. He got into the passenger seat and Wayne slid into the driver's side and started the car, pulling out of the drive way.
“Where are we going?” Gordon asked after a few minutes.
“Storage yard by the docks,” Wayne said, his eyes never leaving the road as he shifted the car into third gear. Gordon didn't ask. The car ride was spent in silence, and Gordon only watched the street lights as they drove. They pulled into a nearly empty storage yard, just as Wayne said, by the docks. Wayne parked the car by one of the containers and motioned Gordon to get out.
Wayne was up next to the door of the contain, using a key to unlock the bolt and then another secret number for the electronic padlock on it. The door swung open to an empty container. Wayne ushered Gordon inside and then shut the door behind them, and an automatic light turned on. Wayne pulled Gordon to the center of the room and they stood there together and Wayne hit a switch on the wall and the floor began to move down.
“What the...” Gordon started to say as they sank into a lower level of the storage container, enter a new room where the lights flooded on. It was brightly lit and mostly gray, metal. In one corner was what Gordon assumed to be a motorcycle, but hard to tell since it had a cover over it. “You brought me to the place you store your motorcycles?” Gordon asked, confused.
Wayne shook his head, stepping off the platform. “No, it's more than that,” he said plainly. Gordon followed him, afraid to be on the platform and end up back at the top with no way out. Wayne looked around the nearly empty room. “I've done countless hours of thinking here for the past five years. Alfred complains I spend more time here than at the penthouse.” He turned to face Gordon and smiled warily.
“Why here? There's nothing in here.” Gordon looked around a little more, maybe he was missing the point? Wayne looked down at his shoes and then back at Gordon with a bit of insecurity in his eyes. He took the few steps between them, and then some, pushing Gordon against the wall, trapping him between the cool metal and Wayne's stern body.
“I need some answers,” Gordon said, afraid Wayne would attempt to kiss him again, and as much as he wanted it, Gordon also knew he needed to know for sure what it was Wayne had to say and what he was doing. Wayne dipped his head towards Gordon, hands on either side of his head, palms against the wall. Wayne let out a deep breath that tickled the hairs of Gordon's mustache, sending a shiver down his spine.
“Remember when you asked me if I believed everything happens for a reason?” Wayne asked, his lips touched Gordon's softly, each syllable coming closer to their mouth meshing. Gordon felt his heart racing, the rapid beating against his chest, the pulse sounding in his ears as he tried to comprehend when he had asked that to Wayne and all he could think was that he hadn't... He had said those words Batman. Gordon placed his hands flat down against the wall behind him, almost afraid he'd lose his balance if it hadn't been there.
His palms were sweaty and he couldn't find his voice, the breath in his lungs shaking his chest uncontrollably. “Yes,” he whispered, unable to think of anything else to say, because it was the obviously answer that Wayne wanted. Wayne didn't need to give a reason for the question, because it all made sense now, everything little piece, every bit information, the secrets and the hiding – all of it. Gordon let his eyes glance up at Wayne's, who's were half closed in anticipation. Those eyes, and he knew he had always wondered why Wayne's eyes were so familiar...
“Jim...” Wayne whispered, nipping at Gordon's bottom lip. “Do you still want to protect me?” Gordon had never felt a surge of emotion take over him like it did then; his heart jumped into his throat and his hands shot up to Wayne's face and pulled their mouths together in a sweet, disastrous mess. Gordon couldn't feel any other movement, just the numbness in his lips as they worked fiercely to claim the contents of Wayne's mouth. Nothing felt as if it were enough and as each moment passed, everything fell into place as their mouths synced into a perfect, passionate kiss. All reasons and worries could wait for another moment. All Jim Gordon needed was this.
Chapter 14: Fourteen
There was no counting the minutes. Each moment passed as the next; drowned in a clash of teeth and lips, hands desperately trying to find a spot to lay, but restless as before they moved with passionate caresses after only seconds. When Jim Gordon's hands finally found their way to Wayne's chest, he pushed him back, parting their lips a few centimeters. Wayne was so close Gordon could hear the man's bated breath, the warmth of their bodies so close together. Gordon opened his eyes only to find Wayne staring right back at him, his lips red and swollen.
Gordon wanted to kiss Wayne again, to latch onto his lips and not let go. But there were things stopping Gordon, certain things that flooded into his mind all at once and left him with questions. He pushed on Wayne's chest a little harder. Wayne took a step back and Gordon pushed away from the wall. He gazed at Wayne curiously and then let his eyes wander the room. There had to be more to this place than what it seemed. Just as there had been more to Wayne – which still left Gordon with a lot of worries and questions.
Wayne made his way over to a hidden switch in the wall and pushed it. “When Wayne Manor burnt down I had no choice but to move my base of operations to another location.” Across the room a metal cage appeared from the floor, and on the other side of the room came a desk from the floor, complete with a computer and at least five different monitors. Gordon just stared, didn't move – didn't even want to think about moving. At first he thought maybe Wayne was pulling his leg, knew things about Gordon and Batman, or guess anyway. But now it was all a little too real too soon.
“Isn't Wayne Manor rebuilt, though?” Gordon found himself saying as he took a few steps towards the cage, noticing that the Batsuit was inside of it. He felt his mouth drop down uncontrollably, trying to grasp for the reasons things were turning out the way they were. Wayne walked up beside him and hit a button on the side of the cage, pulling Gordon back a few paces to allow the doors of it to open fully.
“Yes. It's easier sometimes to have both locations available. This bunker is especially easy to get to if I've been... uhm, wounded.” Wayne hesitated, obviously not wanting to worry Gordon at all. But they were beyond that now. Gordon had assumed Wayne was into some dangerous activities, but he had never once even guessed that he was into something this deep. Maybe he knew, subconsciously, but he never wanted to really believe it.
“So, the stab wounds from that night were what was bothering you the next morning,” Gordon said. It wasn't a question, merely a observation now that the truth had come out. “And your evening business meetings were really with Montoya, Stephens and Bullock. And you running off every evening and conveniently showing up not even half an hour later as Batman.” Gordon sighed, allowing himself to calm down before he let it get out of hand. He was little angry about it, that Wayne had been so deceitful through the whole process. He turned his head to look at the billionaire who had his hands in his pockets, looking down at his floor, almost ashamed.
“Jim...” A softer tone than Gordon would have liked to have heard at that moment. He not only felt betrayed by Wayne but by Batman. What did you expect, Jim? He couldn't just openly admit to you he was Bruce Wayne and expect you to understand.
“How long?” Gordon asked, quietly.
“How long?” Wayne questioned, he looked up at Gordon with confusion.
“How long have you...” Gordon sighed, gesturing his hand between them. Wayne raised an eyebrow and smiled sadly, at the question.
“A few months. I didn't mean for it to happen. Just as, I'm sure, you didn't mean for it to, either,” Wayne explained “I never expected you to invite me into your home on more than one occasion. I didn't expect your kids to like me. Or to get attached.” Gordon had forgotten that it he that invited Wayne into their home, asked for his help with his own son. If not for that, he probably wouldn't be here with Wayne now. But Batman being Wayne, or Wayne being Batman, left another answered question.
“You knew my wife was dying. You were in Gotham the whole time and you didn't once offer any help,” Gordon accused, furrowing his eyebrows at Wayne. The billionaire sighed and placed a hand on Gordon's shoulder.
“You never expressed wanting to know who Batman was and in coming forward out of no where with money or whatever else you might have needed... it would have looked.... I mean I would have... You...” Wayne couldn't seem to find the right words, and he dropped his hand back down to his side. “I don't have an excuse. Not one that will ever make up for the loss your family has gone through. I am sorry, Jim. I wanted to help, I did.”
Gordon looked the billionaire over, watched his eyes for signs of lying, like he had been doing for the few months they had gotten to know each other. Wayne was good at it, but Gordon had always caught on. This time he didn't see it though, he didn't see the lies dwelling just under the surface of a horrible charade. Gordon wanted to feel angry; for some reason to get out of Wayne's presence, to pretend none of this had happened and go on with his life. This was going to complicate everything.
And yet he couldn't bring himself to be angry. Wayne had done what he could, what he thought had been right. It was past now and there was no point holding on to it. Gordon felt that need again, the one he felt many times before when he thought Wayne was getting into some illegal shit – to protect him. It was absurd because Wayne obviously didn't need it, not physically. But from the look in the man's eyes, Gordon knew that Wayne had a lot of emotional vulnerability and insecurities; he'd been let down one too many times, crushed by past lovers and friends. Everyone was always leaving him.
Gordon wasn't going to do the same.
“I know, son,” Gordon found himself saying, just as he had on a few occasions before. Batman had always been his silent guardian, and now it was Gordon's turn to return the favor – for both of them. Wayne bit his lower lip, obviously confused about what to do now, if they continued forward or took a few steps back. “I meant what I said.”
“About what, Jim?” Wayne asked, keeping his distance.
“That I'd give you my trust and friendship... Everything, if you were honest with me.” Gordon lower his voice, into something softer and more soothing. “If you still want it.” Gordon stepped up to Wayne, so that they were a hand's length apart. He reached up and pushed Wayne's suit jacket off his shoulders and let it fall to the ground. Wayne didn't move. It was unusual. Batman was so dominant and yet Wayne was so submissive. Two sides of a coin, two parts of a man that rarely just got to be himself.
“Yes,” Wayne whispered as Gordon touched his face with his fingertips, as if reading each line, the bend of his jaw and the curve lip – everything. The man's lips alone should have been a dead give away, but Gordon hadn't really been looking, either. He saw it now, though, and knew that he'd never forget it. “Jim... I really never meant for this –”
“Shh...” Gordon placed his hands on either side of Wayne's face. “This was meant to happen.” He covered Wayne's mouth with his own before the billionaire had a chance to say anything else. He felt Wayne's arms wrap tightly around his waist, pulling him closer as his own hands wove their way through Wayne's thick brown locks. He expected that any minute it would begin to feel weird, but the longer they stayed embraced the more Gordon knew that every word he said present and past, was true. This was all happening for a reason, if not for several.
They eventually made it back to Gordon's house sometime after midnight, after Wayne showed Gordon all the little gadgets he had, how the computer system worked, and how it was that Batman was always able to get information on people that only the police should have been able to come by. Gordon unlocked the front door, searching for the light switch by the door as he stumbled into the living room. Wayne was close behind, catching Gordon's hand before he fell over his own feet.
“Thanks,” Gordon whispered, not wanting to wake Babs up. Wayne shut the door behind them, letting go of Gordon's hand. “I have got to get out of this suit.” He started for the bedroom and then looked at Wayne. “If you're staying I might have something that might be more comfortable than that.” He motioned at Wayne's suit.
“That might be a good idea,” Wayne whispered as he followed Gordon back to the bedroom. Gordon opened his closet door and began to fish through the drawers of his dresser. He finally found a pair of old sweats and threw them at the billionaire.
“It's all I have,” Gordon said as Wayne caught the pants. He shrugged and tossed them to bed as he slid the tie off around his neck and began to unbutton his collared shirt. Gordon had already dressed completely down and had on a pair of sleep pants his kids bought him for Christmas and a t-shirt.
“It'll work,” Wayne said shimming out of the button-up shirt and tossing it onto the bed. Wayne had an sleeveless undershirt on underneath. Just on Wayne's arms alone were enough scars and bruising to make Gordon's own hurt. He recognized the now fading stab wound on Wayne's right arm; more proof that he was the same man he helped that night. Wayne looked at Gordon, noticing him stare. “Alfred,” Wayne stated.
“Ah,” Gordon said as he looked away rather bashfully when Wayne stepped out of his pants to put the sweats on. Wayne shook his head and grinned at him, and then let out a soft laugh as he grabbed Gordon's hand and pulled him towards him.
“Shy?” Wayne asked. Gordon pulled away from him, giving Wayne a sly look. He wasn't really shy, its just that the tables had turned and they weren't just 'friends' anymore, where things like undressing had no real meaning. Now, they were more. Gordon pulled on Wayne's hand as lead him out of the bedroom and down the hall to the living room. He grabbed the remote and plopped down on the couch, pulling Wayne with him.
Late or not, he wasn't ready to sleep yet and somehow sitting there with Wayne felt better than sleeping. Gordon turned the television on and began to flip through channels. He put his arm around the back of the couch. Wayne looked like he was starting to nod off, and Gordon smiled at him.
“Tired?” he asked. Wayne nodded just slight, rubbing his eyes.
“I don't usually sleep too much, couple hours a night. I sit still too long and I start to feel it,” Wayne answered. Gordon placed his hand on the billionaire's shoulder, pulling on him, and gesturing for him to lay down.
“C'mere,” Gordon said. Wayne folded his legs up onto the couch and rested his head on Gordon's lap. Wayne turned over so that he was looking up at Gordon, eyes half closed and Gordon could tell he was going to drift off any minute. Gordon kept flipping through channels and with his free hand he mindlessly ran a hand through Wayne's hair.
“Jim?” Wayne asked softly, and Gordon looked down at him for moment. Wayne's eyes were sparking in the soft light from the television. Wayne had his hands folded on his stomach, and his breathing was getting softer and steadier.
“Yes?” Gordon answered, but Wayne never replied to him and next thing Gordon knew the younger man was fast asleep. Gordon watched him for a bit longer, seeing the resemblance from when Wayne was a young boy. Even then he wanted to protect him, save him from everything else that would only make his life worse. Gordon wished he had done more back then to influence the child, but those were regrets that he couldn't think about. If Wayne grew up any other way things wouldn't have turned out the way they had. Gordon's wife would have still likely died of lung cancer, but instead of softly caressing one of the most beautiful men Gordon had ever seen, he'd, instead, be alone.
Gordon wasn't sure when he had fallen asleep, but it must have not been too long after Wayne. The remote was still in his hand when he woke to the sound of Babs in the kitchen. Wayne was still fast asleep, curled on his side, but head still on Gordon's lap. He look down at the younger man and caressed his shoulder softly with his fingertips. Gordon then clicked the power button on the remote and turned the television off.
“Dad?” Babs called from the kitchen, peeking out into the living room. He craned his neck over the back of the couch to look at her, and brought a finger to his lips for her to keep quiet. It seemed Wayne hadn't slept in a long time, and he didn't want to wake him just yet. Babs shuffled out of the kitchen, draped in her green bathrobe. She peered over the side of the couch and then at her Dad, in question. Gordon shrugged, but Babs eyed him carefully. She leaned and kissed him on the cheek and shuffled back into the kitchen. Gordon took one of the arm pillows from the side of the couch and placed it under Wayne's head, gently scooting out from under him. He then threw one of the blankets over him from the chair by the couch.
Gordon walked into the kitchen, watching Babs put the coffee together. “How'd you sleep? After last night excitement I'm sure you were pretty beat.”
Babs raised her eyes to look at him as she measured out the coffee grounds. “I slept fine. You?” Gordon shrugged, not offering an answer. Babs finished putting the grounds in and the water. She turned on the pot and then turned to look at Gordon, who was leaning his elbows on the counter, watching her. “Look, I'm sorry I overreacted yesterday. It's really hard to hear...” She sighed, frowning. Gordon pulled her into a hug.
“No, sweetie. I understand. You've been the strongest of us all for a year now. I was going to start worrying that you didn't feel anything if you didn't crack a little,” Gordon teased, kissing her forehead. “But that doesn't mean I'm not disappointed in the way you handled it. And you might be eighteen, but that doesn't mean you aren't old enough for consequences.” He pushed her back a little so he could look her in the eye. She smiled sheepishly at him and rolled her eyes.
“I know,” she said, annoyed. “What's the verdict?”Gordon was awful at coming up with punishments for the kids, it was always left up to Barbara. There wasn't much to punish her with; she didn't mind chores, she liked to cook, she never went out more than she needed to. What was left?
“You have to clean Jimmy's room,” he stated sternly. Babs' face screwed up into grimace and she looked ready to contest it, but he looked down at her pointedly and she shut her mouth.
“Alright,” she agreed, moving to the refrigerator and pulled out the eggs and milk. “Can we have pancakes this morning?” Gordon was about to agree when he looked over the side of the counter and saw Wayne standing there – half asleep still – elbows on the counter and chin in hand.
“Yes, Jim. Can we have pancakes this morning?” Wayne had a grin on his face, trying to hold back yawn. Babs was trying not to laugh as he grabbed the pancake mix down from the self and placed it on the counter.
Gordon stepped up to the other side of the counter and leaned over it, getting almost right next to Wayne's face. “Only if you're willing to help.”
“I'll help,” Wayne said, walking around the side of the counter and into the kitchen. Babs turned around from getting the frying pan and stopped. Gordon rolled his eyes as she gaped at Wayne, who may as well have been half naked in the thin undershirt he was wearing and the sweatpants that barely fit. Gordon covered Babs' eyes, playfully. She pulled his hand away.
“Go get Bruce one of my robes, please?” Gordon asked her. Babs smiled slyly at her father and then left the kitchen to do as asked. Gordon pulled Wayne towards him by the collar of his undershirt. “If you're going to look that good in sleep clothes, you're going to have to wear more to bed if you come around here more often.”
“We'll never get anything done that way,” Wayne teased. Gordon kissed him quickly on the lips, letting him go just as Babs returned with a blue robe, handing it off to Wayne. The billionaire took it and wrapped it around himself. “Thanks, Babs.”
She narrowed her eyes at Wayne knowingly. “No, problem.” She walked out of the kitchen and into living room where she turned the television on. Wayne looked back at Gordon who was starting to mix the pancake ingredients together. Gordon motioned him over.
“Butter the griddle,” Gordon said in a commanding tone. Wayne did as told and then Gordon started to spoon the batter on the griddle. Wayne was more distracting than Gordon assumed he'd be though. The last time he made pancakes with Wayne around, the billionaire was distracting enough, but now that they were obviously not hiding that they were flirting with each other, Wayne was even more so.
Wayne stood right behind Gordon, mouth near his ear, as he tried to flip the pancakes. Just Wayne's breathing alone was enough to make Gordon mess up one of the perfectly round cakes. He tried to elbow Wayne away but the younger man put his hands on Gordon's hips, leaned over his shoulder and watched him more carefully. After messing up the fifth pancake, Gordon finally had enough.
“Alright, out!” He demanded and Wayne looked at him with mock-hurt, but then smiled mischievously as he took a mug of coffee and walked into to the living room to sit with Babs.
Chapter 15: Fifteen
Gordon didn't hear from Wayne for four days. At first he thought perhaps the younger man changed his mind, which wouldn't hurt Gordon's feelings so early in game, but it did leave him feeling rather useless. He didn't want to call and sound desperate, and yet all he could think about was if he didn't call, what if something were wrong? His fears were calmed Thursday evening when a shadow was cast over the rose garden, blocking the light from the back porch.
“Where you been?” Gordon asked, putting the bush pruners down, turning his head slightly to catch a glimpse of the man behind him. He took his gloves off and threw them on the ground, standing up to meet the gaze of Batman. Gordon had gone to gardening in the early evening, the sun was less bright then and it felt more peaceful.
Batman didn't say anything. Gordon tipped his head curiously as he approached the other man cautiously. Batman was leaning on the rail of the porch, teeth gritted. Gordon quickened his pace and covered the ground between them. He stooped up under Batman, taking armored arm around his shoulder and helping him to sit down on the bench by the roses. Gordon removed his hands from Batman, noticing the blood all over his fingers.
“Oh my God,” Gordon whispered, unable to see where the wound was in the low lighting of the backyard. He could tell, however, that their were actually pieces of Batman's armor missing from his torso and arms, possibly if he could see there, too. Batman's breathing was low and raspy, as if he was struggling. “Bruce?” Gordon whispered again, but the other man didn't respond. Gordon didn't have a number for Alfred on hand and he knew sure well he couldn't take him to the hospital. “Stay here,” Gordon said as he placed his hands on Batman for a moment and then stood, running into the house.
Babs was in the living room doing her homework and Jimmy was at the kitchen table eating a bowl of ice cream. Gordon walked into the kitchen, opening the cabinet below the sink and found the first aid kit. He wasn't sure this would even help; he had no idea what he was up against. Babs was on her feet looming over her father's shoulder, worriedly.
“Dad? What's going on?” she asked, trying to grab at his arm to slow him down, but Gordon was already headed towards the backyard again. “Dad?” He turned to face her as he opened the back door.
“Babs, I need you go lay down some old sheets on my bed, grab some towels and see if there are any other first aid kits in the house,” Gordon said sternly, and Babs nodded her head. Gordon walked down the back porch to Batman's side. He wasn't sure how he was going to be able to move him into the house. Sure, Wayne might not have been too heavy, but with all the armor and Kevlar... it wasn't going to be easy.
“Dad? Can I help?” Jimmy asked from the back door. Gordon looked up to see the silhouette of his son. Gordon nodded his head and motioned his son over to his side. Jimmy got on the other side of Batman, propping his arm up around his shoulder and Gordon did the same. Carefully, and slowly they moved him up the steps and into the house, trying not to bump into any walls. Babs was at the end of the hallway near Gordon's room, when she saw them. She opened the door further and they helped a barely able to keep walking Batman into the room.
Gordon motioned for the lights as he and Jimmy tried to carefully lay Batman on the bed. The man dropped to the mattress with a groan, arm reaching up for his left ribcage. Babs and Jimmy exchanged glances as Gordon crawled up onto the bed, kneeling over the masked vigilante, shaking his head. There was no way to get a good look at the wounds with all the armor on. He caught Batman's eye, the pain he saw there and very slowly the other man nodded.
Gordon got down next to his ear, as so the kids wouldn't hear him. “Babs and Jimmy are here. I'm going to need their help.” The response was the same, a simple, diligent nod. Gordon looked to his kids. “Babs will you start taking off his boots and Jimmy I need you start with the gloves.” Both set to work and Gordon tried to prop Batman by placing his back to the wall the best he could. He then tried to find the clasps that kept the cowl in place. He clicked them undone and and gently pulled the mask over the man's head, setting it down on the bed side them. Wayne's face looked dank and pale; his hair sweaty. He panted for breath, letting out a groan of pain as Gordon tried to get him to sit up more.
“Stop,” Wayne said breathlessly. At that both Babs and Jimmy stopped what they were doing and looked up. Jimmy looked surprised and Babs looked over at her father knowing.Gordon motioned them to keep removing what armor was left. He then started to help Jimmy by removing the set of gauntlets from each forearm, and carefully placing them on the nightstand.
Piece-by-piece they had stripped Wayne of the armor in a record time of five minutes. Babs handed Gordon the towels and extra first aid kits. He waved them from the room, for Wayne's own decency. Gordon removed the mesh body suit with the help of scissors, leaving Wayne perfectly naked, bruised, and bleeding on Gordon's bed.
There was a wound in Wayne's left side, looked as if a bullet grazed him, but deep enough that it took a chunk of the skin. The rest of him looked freshly beaten, even his face. The suit might have Kevlar and titanium reinforced, and Gordon wondered what kind of situation Wayne had gotten into. The bleeding wasn't nearly as bad as Gordon had originally thought, but it looked as if it had started to clot. If anything, Wayne looked exhausted and run-down.
Gordon cleaned and bandaged the wound and proceeded to wipe the dirt away from the rest of Wayne's body with the clean towels and some water. It hurt his chest to see the younger man like this, worn and bruised to the point that Gordon almost had to look twice to know it was him. It must have been some beating, but he wasn't sure he'd get an answer from Wayne anytime soon. Gordon put the towels aside, after doing all he knew he could, and carefully covered Wayne with a clean blanket. He went to leave but the other man grabbed his hand. Gordon knelt back down on the side of the bed next to Wayne.
“Jim,” Wayne said weakly. “Atkins.” Gordon grasped Wayne's hand tighter, not quite understanding what it was he was trying to tell him.
“I'm gonna get you some painkillers, Bruce. I'll be right back,” Gordon said as he stroked his hand through the billionaire's damp hair. Again, Wayne didn't let him go, pulling him down with a bit more force, exerting himself more than Gordon knew he should have.
Wayne was shaking his head as Gordon knelt down next to to him again. “The murders,” Wayne said, looking Gordon in the eye, sternly through the pain. “Atkins knows.” Gordon only looked at Wayne for a minutes, letting it all sink in. He knew that Atkins alone couldn't cause this much damage to Batman, it would take a lot of planning and a lot of strength. Atkins had people behind him, and just what and who those people were, Gordon was going to find out.
“Okay. Listen, Bruce. I'm going to leave Jimmy and Babs here to watch you,” Gordon said softly, stroking Wayne's hair. “I have some.... things to take care.” He bent down and kissed the billionaire on the head and walked out of the room. He left the door cracked and walked into the living room where Babs and Jimmy were on the couch talking in hushed whispers. Gordon walked around to the front of the couch and knelt in front of them.
“I need to go take care of some business. I need you two to stay here, bolt the doors and watch Bruce,” Gordon said, gazing into each pair of blue eyes. They both nodded, confused and unsure of everything, he could tell. “We'll talk it over when I get home.” He stood, grabbed his keys from the counter and walked out the door.
Gordon arrived at MCU twenty minutes later. He walked up the steps with determination, hoping that Atkins would be there for confronting. Gordon wasn't in the mood for caring, in the mood for likely being thrown in jail, because in the end he knew his justice would be served and Atkins would get his. Gordon was going to be sure that he did.
He threw open the front doors of MCU and a few of the detectives working late looked up from their paper work or coffee and stared as Gordon marched through the doors and over to the office the commissioner kept in the building. He got right up to the door when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned around to see Stephens looking at him sympathetically.
“He ain't here,” Stephens said. He looked Gordon in the eye, worry on his face. “What's going on, Jim?”
“Are Renee and Harvey here?” Gordon asked as he looked around the bullpen, not seeing any sign of them. Stephens nodded, leading Gordon over to the break room.
“Yeah,” said the other man as they walked through the door. Montoya and Bullock were by the coffee pot and they turned to look at the newcomers, Montoya smiled at him.
“Hey, what are you doing here? Couldn't stay away forever, huh?” she teased, sipping her coffee. Gordon was shaking his head hurriedly. Bullock was looking Gordon over, his eyes stopping on the splatters of blood on his shirt sleeves and pants. He reached over and tugged on them.
“Something wrong, Jim?” he asked, and Gordon swatted his hand away. “What's going on?”
“I know who's behind the murders,” Gordon said flatly, kicking the door to the break room shut. “It's Atkins.”
“You don't know that,” Montoya said, her tone resting between believing and not wanting to. Gordon glared at her, gesturing at the blood on his clothes.“Who's blood is that?”
“Batman's. He got a little too close for the killers' liking. He says it''s Atkins behind it. It's all I got out of him,” Gordon sighed.
“Atkins is always here though and if not here, he's at home or City Hall. I don't see how this is possible,” Bullock said, confused. Gordon shook his head.
“I didn't say it was him, but he knows something. You know people in this city. Desperate times a good person can lose sight of what's right and what's wrong. I trust that Batman wouldn't steer us in the wrong direction,” Gordon explained, putting his hands on his hips. He was trying so hard to stay calm, there had to be some explanation to everything. He found it hard to stay in control, to not lash out and go beating down Atkins' door for answers.
Montoya smiled at him. “We?” she asked. “Why do I get the feeling you've missed this job more than you want to tell us you do?” Gordon glared at her, this was not the time for sentiments.
“Detective, can I get your attention on the subject at hand, please?” Gordon asked sternly. Montoya's grin spread.
Gordon had had enough and he could do things by the book or he could do things his way, and since his way didn't have to involve the book, he took the Trio with him to Atkins' house. Which is how they happened to be on his doorstep, ringing his doorbell. When the dark skinned back opened the door, a smile on his face so false that Gordon couldn't help but throw the punch waiting on his fist. His knuckles made contact with the man's nose, and he stumbled backwards, mumbling curse words at Gordon. Bullock pushed the front door open and the rest of them stepped in.
The Trio surrounded Atkins and Gordon stared him down, hands still in tight balls ready to throw one more punch, or more, if needed. Atkins held a hand to his nose, which was bleeding profusely. Bullock put his hands on the man's shoulders and pushed him down into a chair that Montoya brought from the kitchen. Stephens handed Bullock a pair of handcuffs and they slipped the silver bracelets around Atkins' wrists, arms bent behind the chair.
Gordon watched as the man's nose continue to bleed a steam of dark red blood. Usually he'd feel so sympathetic, but this time he just wanted to watch it, watch him suffer. Atkins was mumbling out curses and Gordon got down in front of him, far enough away that the man wouldn't be able to kick him – Gordon knew better.
“I want answers,” Gordon said. “I trusted that when I left you to my position full-time in January that you would take over where I left off. Instead I hear you're making mockery of the city and letting everything go to hell. You don't except the help I told you you would need and then I find out why. Your letting killers get away with murder, even helping them get away with it and then you send a man to my house to see what I know.” Gordon paused, narrowing his eyes. “Why? This city doesn't need more people like you.”
Atkins tried to laugh, but when he tried Gordon threw another punch across his jaw and the man moaned in pain. He lowered his head and then looked up at Gordon, blood dripping from his mouth. “You'll go to prison for this.”
Gordon shrugged, frowning. “Not for long. My word against yours. I'm pretty sure I have better reputation in this town than you do.” Atkins just stared at Gordon, his nose starting to swell and his lips turning red from the splatter of blood on them. “So, you can tell me everything you know, or I can keep this up.”
Atkins shook his head. “This isn't you, Gordon. You don't play dirty cop.”
“Good thing I'm not a cop anymore,” Gordon growled, bringing his fist up to throw another punch at Atkins, but the man flinch and let out a whine.
“Fine! Fine, just stop,” Atkins begged. “The mob as been investing in some experimental drugs. I don't know everything, I just know it's sort of steroids, makes the person stronger, but not for long. They gave me money to keep quiet about the test accidental murders that have occurred from the test subjects going ramped. You know how bad it is, Gordon. You can't blame me!”
“Oh, I can blame you and I will,” Gordon said lowly, getting up right next to Atkins' ears. “Remember what happened to Anna Ramirez?” Gordon asked the man. Anna was still spending time in prison for her involvement with the mob and help in kidnapping of Harvey Dent and the eventual death of Rachel Dawes. Atkins swallowed. “That's gonna be you.”
Gordon motioned to Bullock to unlock the cuffs. “Take him to the car.”
The Trio took Atkins to a cell at MCU and agreed to watch him. Gordon took his car to City Hall where he was going to have a few words with Garcia. Gordon made his way up the stairs, walking passed the man's secretary and opened the office door and walking in. Garcia was on the phone with his wife and looked up at Gordon in surprise. He looked at his watch, it wasn't even eight in the morning, but Gordon had come as soon as he knew Garcia would be there.
“Honey, I'll have to call you back,” Garcia said to his wife on the phone. He placed the receiver down. “Jim, what brings you here?” He looked at Gordon's clothes, the blood splattered on them and the swell of his knuckles. “You look like you've been through hell and back.”
“In a way, I have,” Gordon mused in a not so pleased tone. He closed Garcia's door and strolled over to the desk. He placed his bruised hands down on the desk and glared at Garcia in the eye. “Next time I decide to retire, you'd better either find a better replacement, or you talk me out of it.”
Garcia shook his head in confusion. “I'm sorry, next time? When did –” He rubbed his forehead with his hand. “Jim, what's going on?”
“Atkins is taking payoffs from the mob. He knew about the murders and is being held in a cell at Major Crimes.” Gordon paused and leaned over the desk, looking Garcia in the eye sternly. “ And I want my job back. Now.”
By Saturday Gordon was given his job back, his badge and his gun. Michael Atkins was put into prison, but refused, just like everyone else involved with the case, to say anymore about the mob. It left Gordon feeling a little nervous; the mob was still experimenting with unknown drugs that obviously had a devastating effect on even Batman's high grade armor. It meant Wayne would have to be more careful and that they would have to work a little harder to put an end to the nonsense before more people were hurt, or worse, were killed.
First, Wayne had to get his strength back. In two days he had been able to recover mostly, after they called Alfred to come help take care of him at the Gordon house. He was still pretty bruised, lovely purple, green, and blue splotches around his ribs and arms. Gordon was almost afraid to touch him, that he'd hurt the younger man. So, he kept a distance.
Babs and Jimmy had taken the shock well. Both had been surprised to say the very least, but told Gordon they almost half expected it. When pieces were placed in front of them, it did make sense. Who else had that kind of money and time?
Gordon stood over the bed where Wayne was sleeping, having just returned from Major Crimes. It was about ten, first day back on the job and he had to work later than he intended because he had to clean up a few of Atkins' messes. The kids were asleep already and Alfred was out on the couch, sleeping. Gordon shimmied out of his suit jacket, tossing it onto a chair by the door. He unstrapped his shoulder holster and placed it and the gun inside in the nightstand. He emptied his pocket as well, laying his phone, wallet and keys on the stand. He sat down on the edge of the bed, placing a hand on Wayne's head and stroking his hair softly.
Wayne mumbled something as Gordon toed off his shoes. “Jim,” came the whisper of the younger man's voice. Gordon unbuckled his belt and slipped his pants off and then unbuttoned his shirt and threw it in the closet. He crawled over to the other side of Wayne and laid on his back. Wayne rolled over and snuggled up next to Gordon, throwing an arm around his waist, burying his face between Gordon's shoulder and the pillow.
Gordon sighed, placing his hand on Wayne's arm around him. The warmth was welcoming, it had been so long since he shared his bed with anyone. The past two nights he slept on the couch, afraid that Wayne was too hurt and didn't want to accidentally make anything worse. Tonight, he just wanted to feel some warmth after months of being so cold. He tugged gently on Wayne's arm.
“Bruce?” he whispered and Wayne moved his head to look at him. Gordon opened his arms and motioned the billionaire over to him. “Come here.” Wayne scooted over, rolling to his side and resting his head on Gordon's chest, arm still firming around him. Gordon let his arm rest over Wayne's broad shoulders, fingers running through the younger man's hair. Gordon missed the human contact and intimacy of sharing his bed with someone else. Even when Barbara was alive, during her cancer treatments, she was so cold and tired all the time that it felt they were never in the same bed after a while.
Gordon wrapped his other arm around Wayne, pulling him closer. This wasn't exactly where he thought he'd be after Barbara died – it was better.
A week later Gordon stood on the top of MCU, kicking at the pieces of shattered glass just as he had the last time he was there. It felt so good to stand out on the rooftop, holding a cup of coffee and feel the warm spring sun set over the tall building of downtown Gotham. Stephens, Montoya and Bullock were with him, everyone with a smile on their face. It was just like nothing in the past year had happened, as if he had never left..
“So when do we rebuild this light?” Stephens asked. Gordon looked at him and shook his head.
“We don't. He's still wanted, as far as the rest of Gotham knows. But as long as we're all here, he'll continue to help.” Gordon smiled, sipping his coffee. The lights of the city lit up Gotham quickly. The Trio headed back down stairs. Gordon was alone, all except for shadow behind him, waiting.
“You missed this,” Batman said. Gordon turned around and looked at the vigilante, smiling.
“More than you'll ever know,” Gordon answered. Batman stepped closer to him and Gordon placed a hand his chest, looking at the armor for a moment before meeting his eyes. “It does feel good to have this all back. To be Commissioner, knowing I'm making a difference, again.”
“Everything is as it should be,” Batman whispered, bending his so that their lips met softly. It was true, everything, for the most part, was as it should be. Everything – Gordon was convinced now – had happened for a reason.