The sheets were tangled about his legs. Gordon kicked at them in frustration. He turned over onto his back and stared at the ceiling. The diffused light from the streetlight outside the window cast shadows that seemed to flicker and dance before his blurry vision.
He wanted to blame not being able to get to sleep on the heatwave that made his skin prickly and the sheets uncomfortably damp with sweat, but the truth was, he no longer knew how to sleep alone. Even the bed itself felt alien. The mattress they’d been talking about replacing for over a year no longer sagged under the weight of another body by his side so that they’d inevitably woken up curled together somehow, even if it were only feet resting warmly together. He missed that connection with an intensity that surprised him.
He closed his eyes and willed his brain to shut down. He couldn’t risk sleeping pills. Not that he really thought anything would happen anymore. He’d finally persuaded Garcia that the patrol car the Mayor had insisted be stationed outside his house last week would be better off utilized downtown. Garcia had accused him of not taking the threat against his life seriously, but had finally agreed. But he did take it seriously, which was why he’d reported an anonymous threat against his life when Batman had first informed him of the henchmen who’d told him about the hit. That was why when Barbara had first told him she was taking the kids to stay at her mother’s for a while he hadn’t argued, had agreed it was for the best, had kissed the kids goodbye with a smile and Barbara with resignation; he could see the truth in her eyes. She wasn’t coming back. Barbara hadn’t stopped loving him, he knew that, and that was why he’d signed the divorce papers that had inevitably followed without a fight. She thought he’d chosen Gotham over her and he couldn’t blame her for that.
He wasn’t suicidal, he told himself, staring at the shadows on the ceiling. He wasn’t waiting for them to come and get him. He honestly believed that they wouldn’t just gun him down in his home in the middle of the night. It wasn’t their style. They’d want it to be showy, public, send a message. And if he was wrong, well, there was always Batman. Not that he really let himself think that, not in the light of the day. But in the dark… in the dark….
He must have slept, because the next thing he knew there was a hand over his mouth. Even as his hands flew up to grab at his assailant’s wrist, he was registering the texture of a glove, the smell of iron and sweat. Batman. He stopped struggling and blinked up at the shadow looming over him.
“Shhh,” the shadow breathed.
Gordon nodded slightly and Batman took his hand away. He flowed backwards off the bed and stood silently beside it. Gordon sat up and swung his legs over the side, feeling for his slippers, slipping his feet into them purely by habit. He groped on the side table for his glasses and fumbled them on. The street lamps illuminated the room just enough that Gordon could see Batman hold up his hand and cock his head slightly to the side.
Gordon listened. The hum of the old fridge down in the kitchen, kicking into high gear as it regulated the temperature, followed by the rattling noise it had started making about a year after they’d bought it. Beneath that… beneath that he heard the steps creak. Then silence. Suddenly the sound of his own breathing was loud in his ears. He forced himself to take measured breaths.
“We have to go,” Batman murmured in his harsh voice. “Now.”
Gordon stood up and gazed helplessly around at the shadowy gloom. “Just let me get dressed.”
“I can’t go gallivanting about Gotham in my pajamas,” he protested in an indignant whisper.
“Sure you can.”
Suddenly he was aware of the dark shape looming over his shoulder, and oddly, the faint scent of cologne. He’d never really thought before about the fact that there was a man beneath the suit. “Come, now,” Batman whispered urgently, and Gordon heard the warped floorboard outside the bedroom door creak. Gordon’s heart hammered. They’d been talking about getting the floorboards fixed for years, never did manage to find the money. There was always something more important to budget for. Jimmy’s piano lessons. Babs was going to need braces soon.
Then he was being forcibly swept towards the open window, then he was clambering clumsily out on to the fire escape, stumbling and clutching at the railing to catch himself. He heard the sash being quietly lowered and then Batman was beside him, arm raised. Gordon heard a faint rasping sound and then Batman was surrounding him, his arm wrapped around Gordon’s body. Before Gordon had time to register what was about to happen, they were airborne. Instinctively he tried to grab on to whatever he could get hold of, but the arm around him was made of iron and he couldn’t move. He controlled the impulse to struggle, afraid he’d unbalance them.
The night air rushed past, hot on his skin through the cotton pajamas. He could feel Batman’s breath against his neck, the scent of cologne stronger, combined with a more earthy smell. Of course, Batman must be sweating like a pig in all that armor, Gordon thought irrelevantly. Just as it occurred to him to wonder where they were swinging to, they were falling. Before he had time to panic they hit the ground, Batman staggering a few steps, fighting to keep his feet with Gordon’s weight unbalancing him. They crashed to the ground together, Batman twisting so that he hit the ground on his back, taking the impact, Gordon sprawled over him. Batman’s other hand was curled around the back of Gordon’s head protectively. It was too dark to make out the expression in Batman’s eyes as they rested, face to face, panting harshly, their breath mingling.
Then Batman’s arms shifted; hands at his waist were pushing Gordon, urging him to move. Gordon shifted to the side, wincing as he put his weight on his knee, the thin cotton no protection at all from the loose gravel on the road. Batman was rolling out from under him as soon as he’d started to move, on his feet in one impossibly fast movement, staring back the way they’d come from. Then a gloved hand was under Gordon’s arm, lifting him to his feet, and he was propelled along, stumbling as he got his feet under him.
“They’re coming,” Batman explained. “There’s too many of them.”
“Really? Even for you?” Gordon said, only half joking.
Batman stopped, stared at him. “Your safety is my primary concern right now.”
The conviction in his voice stunned Gordon. He couldn’t think of anything to say in response. When Batman urged him on again, Gordon went, not even questioning when they turned into a dark, foul-smelling alley. He couldn’t see a thing, the looming buildings that surrounded them blocked out even the light from the half-moon. He put out his hand blindly and caught hold of material—the cape—and allowed himself to be tugged along.
They came to a stop. There was movement in the dark and then something was pressed into his hands—a motorcycle helmet. Gordon went to put it on before he remembered his glasses. He took them off and stowed them in the breast pocket of his pajamas, hoping devoutly that they’d be safe enough there, and put the helmet on.
“Get on.” The voice came from close to his ear. There was a headset in the helmet. Made sense.
Gordon fumbled for the seat with his hands and managed to clamber on to the back. There was a movement of air and then the cape was fastened around his neck and tucked under his thighs. The sudden intimate touch made him jump. There was a huff of breath in his ear, a quiet laugh.
“Sorry,” he muttered, embarrassed.
Batman stepped back. He swung himself onto the front of the bike and started the engine. It was so quiet that if Gordon hadn’t been able to feel the powerful machine vibrating under him he wouldn’t have known for sure that it was on.
“Have you ridden a bike before?” Batman asked, as he eased the bike forward. Gordon automatically clutched at his waist, relieved to find he had freedom of movement in his arms, the fabric moving with him.
Gordon shook his head. “Never got around to it,” he said, regretfully.
“It’s all about balance. You’ll need to hold on tight, and lean when I lean. Otherwise you’ll tip us over.”
“No pressure,” Gordon muttered, as Batman turned the bike into the street and gunned the engine, the bike accelerating rapidly.
Gordon decided that dignity was overrated and wrapped his arms around Batman’s waist, plastering himself against his back. “Good,” he thought he heard Batman murmur.
Leaning into the turns took a little practice, but he got the hang of it before long, and felt it when Batman felt confident enough to put on speed. Gordon watched the scenery whip by, watched blurred faces turn toward them as they zoomed past an all-night convenience store. The speed… the power… it was exhilarating, and Gordon knew he was grinning wildly. Oh, yeah, he had to get himself one of these.
“We’ve got company,” Batman announced, and the euphoria drained abruptly away.
Then it was an eternity of sudden, nerve-wracking turns. Gordon clung on tightly as they bumped over embankments and through underpasses. Finally they came to a stop under a bridge, merging into the shadows. Batman turned off the engine. They sat in silence. Gordon’s heart was thumping in his chest; under his hands he could feel Batman’s chest rising and falling. A couple of homeless people sheltering under the bridge began to stir. Batman put his finger to his lips and they sank back under their nests of blankets.
Gordon strained for any sounds of pursuit but couldn’t hear anything. After a moment he was able to identify where they were; they’d left the inner city. If they kept going in this direction they’d end up in the Palisades. Lots of open ground there.
He was still molded to Batman’s back, self-conscious suddenly. He forced himself to relax his grip, aware of faint pins and needles as the muscles loosened. A train whooshed overhead. Gordon looked up, startled, and that was why he saw it before Batman did: a helicopter heading towards them, black against the clouds, the shape of gun turrets unmistakable. “There,” he said, pointing, and heard Batman swear.
“They’re determined,” Gordon muttered.
“And well-organized,” Batman agreed. “They’ve blanketed the city. I don’t think I’m going to be able to shake them this way.”
“What are we going to do?” he asked, feeling the unreality of it. All this, just to eliminate him.
For a moment Batman seemed to hesitate. Gordon watched the helicopter getting closer. Then, “No choice,” Gordon heard him mutter. He started the bike again. Gordon quickly slid his arms around him again as the bike accelerated. Batman leaned forward, opening the throttle. Gordon clung tightly, peripherally aware of muscles that had begun to stiffen from unaccustomed use, wondering what Batman had meant.
They were going up an embankment. The bike hit a sandy patch, the wheels losing their grip for a moment, spinning, kicking up sand. Batman put a foot down to steady them, angling the bike, and then they jolted forward again and over the top of the embankment onto the road. Gordon forced himself to relax his convulsive grip, feeling Batman’s chest expand as he drew an explosive breath.
Then had to resist the urge to grab on tightly again as Batman drove straight into the train tunnel that merged with the underground system. They were heading straight back into the city. He hoped Batman knew what he was doing.
Once, they stopped in a small recess. Gordon hadn’t even known such places existed. Batman hadn’t turned off the engine. Gordon wondered what they were waiting for, then had his answer when the darkness came alight for a moment as a train rattled by, nearly empty but for a handful of well-dressed revellers heading home after a big night out. Gordon wondered if there was anything at all Batman didn’t know about Gotham.
Batman nosed back into the tunnel and took them at a steady pace alongside the tracks, the tires crunching over the loose gravel, the darkness ahead lit only by the single light from the bike. Shadows leaped and danced around them.
A couple of times they came to intersections and turned. Twice more they stopped in recesses to allow trains to pass. Gordon had no idea how Batman kept his bearings. Another turn was approaching. He felt the bike slow. Batman produced some kind of device and pointed it in front of them. Shadows moved—the wall was opening, just at the angle of the turn.
“Hold on,” Batman said sharply and Gordon tightened his arms around him as Batman brought the bike to a full stop in a complicated sliding maneuvre that nearly tipped the bike over.
“Lights,” Batman growled and Gordon looked around as his eyes adjusted to the sudden light. They were in a small storage room by the looks of things. Batman made a movement as if to get off and Gordon released him hurriedly, scrambling off and away from the bike, taking off the helmet and standing with it in his hands, wondering what to do with it. In the end he put it on the seat of the bike. He fumbled his miraculously unscathed glasses back on and watched Batman walk over to a blank section of the wall, put his hand on it and push.
The panel slid open, revealing a small alcove. Nothing Batman did could surprise him anymore, he thought, and then was instantly proved wrong as, with only a brief hesitation, Batman reached up and took off his cowl.
Gordon stared at the short dark hair, soaked through, the flushed and sweaty neck, and then watched speechless as the rest of the armor came off piece by piece. At no point did Batman turn to face him. Gordon got an impression of self-consciousness, though the man’s movements were quick and sure as he tossed each part carelessly into the cavity. Eventually Batman was down to just a black t-shirt and close fitting pants. He had painful-looking bruising along his left forearm and a line of stitches over a nasty looking wound. He reached into the niche and pulled out a bundle of clothes. Gordon watched him straighten and pause for a moment. Then he squared his shoulders and turned around.
Gordon looked into the defiant eyes of Bruce Wayne. And realized, with a strange sense of anti-climax, that he wasn’t surprised, as though all the clues had been sitting unexamined at the back of his mind. Wayne was obviously waiting for him to say something. Gordon looked away for a moment, pushing his glasses further up his nose. He gestured at the pile of clothes in Wayne’s hands. “I hope some of that’s for me,” he said.
Wayne visibly relaxed. He stepped forward and held out some of the clothes, a pair of sneakers sitting on top. “They’ll be a bit big on you, I’m afraid,” he said. “And I have no idea about the shoes.”
“Why do I suddenly feel like Cinderella?”
“Let’s see if you get to marry the prince, shall we?” Wayne said, the corner of his mouth turning up as he handed Gordon the clothes, a pair of sneakers sitting on top.
Gordon focused on changing quickly, deliberately not looking at Wayne doing the same. The sneakers were at least a size too big but he laced them tightly. When they were dressed he took stock of the both of them—disreputable looking jeans, t-shirts and hoodies, of all things. He burst out laughing.
Wayne shot him a surprised look and then smiled. He reached back into the niche. “Don’t forget these,” he said, holding up two baseball caps.
“Outfit wouldn’t be complete without it,” Gordon said gravely, taking the cap and putting it on.
He was surprised when Wayne moved into his personal space again. Given how often Batman had done that recently, he shouldn’t find it disconcerting, but this was different. This was a man in front of him, not a… not a symbol.
Wayne reached out and pulled the cap further over his eyes and adjusted the hood over it. Then he carefully removed Gordon’s glasses. He folded them carefully and, holding Gordon’s gaze, slid them into the pocket of the hoodie Gordon was wearing. Gordon found it hard to breathe suddenly. Then Wayne stepped away. He touched the wall and the panel slid back into place.
“We should go,” Wayne said, walking over to where a ladder was attached to the opposite wall. Gordon hadn’t noticed it before.
“What about the bike?” he asked.
“Hopefully, it’ll be fine.” Wayne shrugged. “If not, there’s nothing to connect it to the Batman.”
Gordon followed Wayne up the ladder quickly, nearly crashing into him when the other man stopped. There was a creaking sound, and light, and then they were moving again, up through a hatch into a small room, sparsely furnished: a cot, toilet, sink and a plain scuffed table with a shiny, expensive-looking laptop on it, looking out of place.
Wayne crossed swiftly to the door and, opening it a crack, peered out. Gordon could hear the low murmuring of voices. After a moment Wayne shut the door again and turned to face Gordon.
“We’ll be safe here until morning. Nevertheless, it would be best if you keep quiet and let me do the talking.”
Gordon nodded towards the door. “We’re going out… there?”
“You’re welcome to stay here if you like.” Wayne flashed him a wide smile. “Personally, I’m starving.” The smile transformed his face, Gordon thought, inconsequentially.
“I could eat,” he agreed. He couldn’t remember if he’d eaten dinner. Or lunch, for that matter.
Wayne’s eyes dropped to his mouth and he frowned. “You’ll have to get rid of the mustache,” he said, sounding a bit apologetic. “It’s too distinctive.”
Gordon quelled an instinctive protest. Wayne was right. He looked at the sink. “Now?”
Wayne nodded towards the sink. “There’s shaving gear in the cabinet,” he said. “Just come out when you’re ready. I’ll be at the bar.”
Gordon did the best he could with no mirror, feeling like he was losing a small part of himself as he scraped the last of the hair away, along with the couple of days’ worth of stubble he’d acquired. He patted his now bare lip with his fingers. It seemed smooth enough. Strangely cold though, despite the heat.
Gordon opened the door carefully, into... an Asian restaurant of some kind. It was authentic-looking, with wood and bamboo panelling and brightly colored cloth wall decorations. There was not a Caucasian face in the place that he could see. Low couches were scattered around, old men and women with wrinkled faces, mostly dressed in robes, sat talking or playing some kind of dice game. At one table nearby, several youngish hard-faced men sat drinking, playing cards for money. Low-level lighting from glowing red lamps made it hard to make out facial expressions, but it seemed to Gordon that all eyes turned his way for a moment as he emerged from the room, before the patrons turned back to their pursuits. He couldn’t distinguish facial features for sure without his glasses, but there was a figure sitting at the bar and Gordon made his way towards it, relieved when it morphed into Wayne. Wayne smiled at him and leaned into the counter. Gordon was startled as he started speaking fluently in a language that Gordon didn’t recognize at all. The old barman behind the counter smiled warmly at Wayne, said something rapidly in response and then shuffled off through a beaded curtain.
“He’s gone to prepare us a meal,” Wayne explained. “I hope you like hot food,” he said, smiling again.
“What language is that?”
“Never heard of it.”
“I’m not surprised.”
“And you know him?”
“That’s right,” Wayne said briefly, turning to lean against the bar, surveying the room.
“How?” Gordon persisted, despite the closed expression on Wayne’s face.
“We shared a prison cell once,” Wayne said casually, dismissively.
Gordon’s mouth fell open in shock and he shut it again with a snap. Somehow he knew Wayne wasn’t talking about an overnight stint in lockup. The whole thing was bizarre. This was Bruce Wayne, he reminded himself incredulously. He was like a whole different person. A much more real person. The more Gordon thought about it the more likely it seemed. It explained why Bruce Wayne, playboy, came across almost as a caricature at times, because it was all an act, a façade.
“Come on,” Wayne said, indicating an empty couch. He sat down at one end. Gordon sank down onto the other side. It was surprisingly comfortable. Exhaustion crept over him again, now that his body had apparently decided that they were safe and could afford to rest. He slumped down, resting his head against the back of the couch, closing his eyes.
“I guess you haven’t had much sleep lately,” Wayne said, conversationally. Gordon rolled his head towards him and cracked one eye open.
“Not really,” he confirmed. Then a thought occurred to him. “You’ve been spying on me?”
“Keeping an eye out, more like,” Wayne corrected, sounding vaguely hurt. “Just as well I did, wouldn’t you say?”
“Mmm,” Gordon agreed, relaxing further into the couch.
Wayne raised an amused eyebrow. “Don’t go to sleep yet,” he said. “Sonam’s just bringing out the food.”
Gordon forced himself to open his eyes and sit up. The old man was setting down a tray with several steaming dishes. Gordon’s stomach growled as the scent reached him. He sat forward eagerly, picking up a fork. A hand closed over his. Gordon stilled, instinctively worried. He looked at Wayne, who was looking back at him with a solemn expression. “Watch out for the chili peppers,” he said very seriously. Gordon blinked at him and Wayne let go of his hand, raising his own in a manner which clearly said “don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Gordon scooped up a mouthful of food and inspected it. It looked harmless enough, but he had the feeling that Wayne was laughing at him, despite his deadpan expression. “What is it?”
“It’s called emadatse. It’s the national dish—just cheese and meat and vegetables. The thing to remember is that the Bhutanese tend to regard chili peppers as just another vegetable.”
Bhutan! Gordon didn’t even know where that was. “When were you in a Bhutanese prison?” he asked, coming to the obvious conclusion.
Wayne was digging into his meal with enthusiasm, head bent over the meal. He slanted a glance towards Gordon. For a moment Gordon thought he wasn’t going to answer, but then he swallowed the food he’d been chewing. “You want the short answer or the long answer?”
“Whatever you want to tell me,” Gordon said, somewhat surprised that Wayne had not immediately shut him down.
Gordon listened, fascinated, as Wayne described his life leading up to becoming Batman. He only noticed he’d started eating mechanically when he suddenly bit into something hot and he gasped, eyes watering, as he groped for something to take away the burning sensation. A glass was pressed into his hands and he started gulping down the drink until hands closed around his and Wayne eased the glass away. “Take it easy, you don’t want to get drunk,” he murmured.
“That was wine?” Gordon asked, just able to taste the flavor in his mouth now.
Wayne nodded. He gestured towards Gordon’s plate. “You might want to take it easier with the chili peppers,” he suggested.
Gordon glared at him, but carefully scraped all the peppers he could see to the side of the dish. This time he concentrated on the food. It was still almost too hot to eat, but it was tasty and filling. Gordon mopped away the sweat that had formed using the back of his sleeve and stoically kept on eating, making sure he had plenty of rice with each mouthful.
Another glass was placed in front of him. He eyed it suspiciously. “Just water,” Wayne said, definitely sounding amused. Gordon thought about sulking.
When they’d finished eating, Gordon was surprised when Wayne stacked the plates back on the tray and disappeared through the bamboo curtain. Gordon sat back on the couch, suddenly feeling conspicuous in his western clothes. He stroked his mustache self-consciously, freezing as his fingers met bare skin. He lowered his hand quickly.
He looked up as Wayne slid back on to the seat beside him. “Missing something?”
Gordon smiled wryly. “I’ve had that mustache since 1987,” he said mournfully. “I don’t feel like myself without it.”
Wayne, disconcertingly, studied his face carefully. “Well, you look younger without it,” he said at last. Gordon wondered for a second if he was being complimented. “And combined with the street clothes,” Wayne continued, “you don’t look at all like Commissioner Gordon, so with any luck we’ll be able to get uptown tomorrow without any more attempts on your life.”
“Good,” Gordon said, relieved. “I need to get back to my office and—”
“You can’t go back to your office,” Wayne stated with finality. “You know better than anyone that it’s not secure.”
Gordon tried anyway. “I need access to my files, my computer.”
“I’ll go and pick up whatever you need.”
“You can’t just walk in to my office!”
Wayne grinned at him. “Who said anything about walking in?” he said mischievously.
“Oh,” Gordon said. He really was tired. He yawned and put his head back on the couch.
“Why don’t you go get some sleep in the other room,” Wayne suggested. “I’ll wake you when it’s time to go.”
“I’m fine,” Gordon mumbled, his eyes closing.
“Of course you are,” Wayne agreed mockingly, but his tone was gentle.
Gordon drifted. He was vaguely aware that someone had sat down opposite them and that Wayne was talking away in that foreign language again. Wayne’s voice was oddly soothing and it felt good to just be able to not think, to let someone else take charge for a while.
When he woke up it was light, and they were alone. The morning sun was seeping in through the patterned windows. Gordon gazed sleepily at the patterns of sunlight on the floor and the shadows that flickered across it as passersby walked past the windows. After a while Gordon became aware that he was lying down and that his cheek was resting against warmth and he realized with sudden intense embarrassment that his head must be resting in Wayne’s lap. He had a vague memory of sleepily trying to get comfortable, nestling his head against the comfortable pillow beside it. But Wayne hadn’t pushed him away, he remembered now, and the soothing murmur of voices had lulled him into sleep.
He could hear Wayne snoring softly above his head. He hoped fervently that Wayne had fallen asleep before Gordon had ended up in his lap. With any luck, if he was really careful, he’d be able to sit up without waking Wayne and he’d be able to pretend really hard that this had never happened.
He went to sit up and became conscious of an arm draped across his body. Gordon debated whether to risk disturbing Wayne or to remain where he was for the moment and hope that Wayne moved his arm himself in his sleep. The thought that Wayne probably needed sleep as much he did decided him and he stayed where he was, trying to not think about the fact that he essentially had his face in another man’s groin. He was safe and he was relaxed. When he thought about how long it had been since he’d been either of those things, he felt a rush of gratitude towards Bruce Wayne.
Gordon lay and watched the patterns of light and waited for Wayne to wake up. When Wayne finally stirred, Gordon could tell the moment he became aware of their sleeping arrangement. His whole body stiffened and he lifted his arm away as though scalded. Gordon sat up slowly, feeling his joints protesting; he wasn’t as young as he used to be. When he was sitting up properly he looked at Wayne, who was eyeing him warily.
“Let us never speak of this again,” he said solemnly, trying not to let his eyes crinkle with amusement, but Batman was obviously an expert at reading him because Wayne smiled at him, a warm and genuine expression that Gordon had never seen Bruce Wayne make.
Wayne went over and stood by the window, scanning the area. The latticed windows didn’t let in very much light. Wayne was a shadow in the dimness of the room. He just needed the pointy ears, Gordon thought.
There was a rattle at the door and the old man from last night came in, a wide smile lighting his face when he saw Wayne. He said something to Wayne, gesturing towards the outside, then shuffled off towards the back room.
“Sonam says it’s all clear for blocks out there,” Wayne translated. “It’s time.”
Gordon joined him at the door. Wayne’s eyes suddenly sharpened and he studied Gordon intently.
“Just... in the light… ” Wayne rubbed a finger against his own upper lip. “It’s just a little paler. Still.” Wayne raised his hands and Gordon stood very still as Wayne pulled the hoodie further forward. “Just keep your head down a bit and we should be fine.”
“We should, should we?”
Wayne grinned. “Let’s go.”
“Do you have another vehicle secreted nearby?”
Wayne’s grin got wider. “Not exactly,” he said.
The bus was crowded, the air-conditioning wheezed and rattled and mostly failed to cool the air at all. Gordon had to stand close to Wayne to avoid being separated as people got on and off at each stop, shouting and calling to each other. At one point he was forced to lean back squarely against Wayne’s body as an elderly woman with a wide smile and few teeth squeezed by with, of all things, a live chicken in a small wooden cage. “That can’t be hygienic,” he muttered to himself.
Wayne heard him. There was a huff of quiet laughter near his ear. “Welcome to Chinatown.” Gordon just caught a glimpse of a smile from under the brim of his cap.
At 52nd street they changed buses. The back seat was empty and Wayne sprawled across one side of it, waving Gordon to take the other side. Gordon sat down. Immediately Wayne lunged towards him. “It’s all about the image,” Wayne breathed hotly in his ear, and then threw himself back against the seat, putting his sneakered feet up on the seat in front of him. Gordon saw the driver glance in the mirror at them, and he sighed in resignation, doing his best to imitate Wayne’s sprawl. He rather thought he failed to look as effortlessly menacing.
They got off on the Boulevard and walked over the bridge. Wayne kicked at an empty can as they walked; it ricocheted off the railing and over the edge, earning them disapproving looks from an elderly Jewish couple walking a Pomeranian. Gordon winced as it sailed over the edge, praying it didn’t hit anything or anyone below, but Wayne didn’t so much as glance in the direction it’d gone. All about the image, Gordon reminded himself.
The buildings were shiny and new-looking on this side of town, the streets clean, the grass between the pavement and the street professionally kept. The aura of wealth permeated everything. Barbara had always wanted to be able to afford to live here; sometimes Gordon wondered whether she would have stayed if they’d lived in a ‘safer’ neighborhood.
Wayne had stopped in front of a fancy apartment block while Gordon was looking around and was holding a door open for him. There was a concierge that looked like he doubled as a security guard, or possibly a prize fighter, heading their way, one hand held out warningly, the other resting ostentatiously on his gun. Then Wayne reached up slowly and pushed back his cap. The guard smiled and relaxed. “Mr Wayne,” he acknowledged, not looking particularly surprised to see him come in like that. Maybe he was used to Wayne being eccentric, Gordon thought, as they crossed the lobby and the guard ambled back to his station.
The elevator doors opened directly into the penthouse. A dignified-looking gentleman was waiting for them. He took one look at them and burst out laughing. “Well, I suppose skateboarding’s a bit less dangerous than your usual sporting activities.”
“I’m trying out a new look,” Wayne said, as they stepped out of the lift, raising his arms as if showing off the cut of a new suit. “What do you think?”
“I like it. Less ironing for me.”
“This is Alfred,” Wayne announced. “Alfred, Commissioner Gordon.”
Gordon nodded at the man, clearly the butler. And just as clearly, more than just a butler to Wayne. He remembered, suddenly, the tall, stern-faced man who’d come to the police station to take away the grief-stricken young boy whose parents had been just been murdered. His hair hadn’t been white twenty years ago.
“He doesn’t really do the ironing,” Wayne said confidingly to Gordon.
“How do you know?” the old man grumbled.
Wayne looked disconcerted. “Don’t we have a service for that?”
Alfred looked at him inscrutably and then turned and disappeared into the kitchen.
“I thought your job was to prepare breakfast and make sarcastic comments,” Wayne shouted after him.
Alfred’s head appeared around the door. “Oh no, sir. I throw in the sarcastic comments for free.” He disappeared again.
Wayne waved Gordon into the living room. Gordon was drawn immediately to the giant windows. Gotham sprawled below. The view was breathtaking. Wayne came to stand at his shoulder. “I never get tired of it,” Wayne murmured. “No other city feels alive in the same way.”
Gordon turned his head to look at him. Wayne was staring pensively into the distance. “Don’t say that,” Gordon said, only half-joking. Sometimes it felt like anything could happen in Gotham.
Wayne blinked and smiled at him, turning back to the room. “Come and sit down. Alfred will be bringing breakfast in a moment.” He paused. “Probably.”
Gordon sat down, and had to resist the urge to lean back into the decadent comfort of the huge couch. There was too much to do to relax. He had to retrieve his files and decide where he was going to stay, now that his home was all too evidently no longer safe.
“Mr Wayne,” he said, firmly.
“Bruce,” Wayne interrupted.
“As you’ll be staying with me for the time being, I think we can dispense with the formalities, don’t you?” Wayne said warmly.
Gordon stared at him. “I can’t stay here.”
Wayne sat down opposite, sprawling comfortably. “I insist,” he said firmly. “This penthouse is the safest place in Gotham. I can protect you here.”
“I need to be able to work, to find out who’s behind this, put a stop to it. I can’t just go into hiding.”
“Who said anything about hiding?” Wayne smirked. “We have all the equipment we need right here to get started.”
Wayne leaned forward, staring at him. “You’re the most important man in Gotham,” he said forcefully.
Gordon didn’t know what to say. The sudden intensity radiating from Wayne utterly transformed him. Suddenly Gordon could see how he could have become Batman.
The intensity hung in the air between them. Then Alfred appeared with a large tray of hot and cold dishes and Wayne sat back. Gordon stared in amazement as the butler laid everything out on the coffee table in front of them. There was enough there to feed a small army.
“I didn’t know what you’d prefer, Commissioner, so I thought I’d give you a range of options.”
“Thank you, er, Alfred.”
Alfred smiled kindly at him. Gordon suddenly felt like a schoolboy again. He wouldn’t have been surprised if Alfred had suddenly reached out and ruffled his hair. He smiled back hesitantly and sat forward, reaching for a plate.
Wayne picked up the coffee pot. “Alfred, can you go over to Commissioner Gordon’s apartment and check it out?”
“That won’t be necessary, sir.” Alfred picked up a remote and pointed it at the wall. A panel slid open and revealed a TV screen that took up half the wall, flickering into life.
“You and your sliding panels,” Gordon muttered, then sat up in alarm as the picture showed his apartment, spectators milling about some distance away behind the yellow barrier tape. Members of his team could be seen going in and out of his home.
There is still no word on the disappearance of Commissioner Jim Gordon, last seen at approximately 9pm last night when he left his work at the Major Crimes Unit. When he failed to turn up to work this morning and did not answer his phone, officers were sent to his home, which was discovered to have been broken into. Foul play is strongly suspected. If anyone has any clue as to the whereabouts of Commissioner Gordon, please contact police immediately.
“Well, that solves one problem, anyway,” Wayne said thoughtfully.
Gordon glared at him. “What?” he said, as it sank in that he’d left his cell phone behind. His people would be frantic. He looked distractedly around the apartment and smiled gratefully up at Alfred when he was silently handed a phone.
Wayne held up his hands placatingly. “Sorry. I just meant that now we have a plausible reason for you to be staying here,” he explained while Gordon was dialing.
The phone picked up. “Stephens,” Gordon said, turning away. “No, I’m fine, I’m safe,” he said, in response to his deputy’s incredulous reaction. He hesitated. “I’ll be in shortly,” he said, and hung up on Stephens’ spluttering.
Wayne poured him a coffee. “At least have some breakfast, first.”
“I have no idea how I’m going to explain this,” he muttered, taking the cup.
“Let’s not make it more complicated than it has to be. You came over last night to visit your good friend Bruce Wayne and we had a bit too much to drink, that’s all.”
“Oh, that’s going to sound great,” Gordon sighed. “And why didn’t I catch a cab home?”
“You fell asleep on the couch. I left you there and went to bed. We’ve just woken up.”
“It’s nearly eleven,” Gordon pointed out, incredulously.
“I don’t know about you, but normal people don’t just blow off work because they’ve been out drinking.”
“Actually, you’d be surprised,” chimed in Alfred. “I’d be more worried about the whereabouts of your wallet and cell phone, since going by your attire I’m assuming the Batman just swooped in and carried you off?”
Gordon’s hands went instinctively to his pockets. “My God, you’re right. I need to start cancelling everything.”
Alfred was beside him. “Why don’t you sit down, sir,” he said soothingly, and Gordon found himself sinking back down on to the couch. Alfred put a plate piled with food in front of him. “You get tucked into that,” he said, “and if you’ll permit me, I’ll take care of those nasty details while you have a nice hot shower and then Master Wayne can drive you to work.”
“I don’t need him to drive me to work,” Gordon protested, feeling vaguely like he should make a stand.
“Yes you do!” said Wayne, through a mouth full of bacon and eggs.
“Of course you don’t, sir,” Alfred agreed, at the same time, “but it would make Master Wayne and I feel much easier in the mind if you’d let him. More coffee?” he asked, picking up the pot and sweeping out of the room.
Gordon picked up a forkful of eggs. “Why do I feel like I’m about fifteen years old again?” he asked plaintively, starting to eat.
Wayne smiled sympathetically. “Wait till you’ve been living here a while,” he said wryly.
With perfect timing Alfred appeared just as Gordon finished eating. “If you’d care to follow me, sir,” he suggested, “I will show you to the guest suite.”
Gordon looked around the bedroom he was apparently going to be staying for the immediate future. It would probably be exaggerating to say that it was bigger than his entire home, but not by much.
“The bathroom is over here. I suggest a shower today, sir, rather than the spa, since you wish to get to work as soon as possible.” Alfred opened a cabinet. “You might wish to shave also. I take it the last one was a rush job?” Gordon rubbed a hand over his jaw. The regrowth was minimal as yet; his facial hair never did grow very fast, but he could feel rough patches.
“No mirror,” he explained.
“Ah,” Alfred said. “In that case, sir, not a bad job at all.” Alfred moved to the door, only a certain stiffness in the way he walked betrayed the fact that he might not be as spry as he appeared. “I’ve taken the liberty of ordering you a new wardrobe, sir, as who knows what condition your clothes have been left in, if they are even still there.”
Gordon didn’t know what to say. He felt uncomfortable, obligated to protest, but really, Wayne probably spent more on a night out with one of his starlets than what a new suit for Gordon would cost. Alfred was waiting for him to say something. Finally he just nodded awkwardly.
The shower had excellent water pressure, of course. Gordon let it beat on his shoulders for a long time, working out the kink in his neck from his awkward sleeping position the night before, the tension of the last months draining away with the water.
Afterwards, showered, shaved, and still glowing from the almost too-hot water he went into the bedroom and stopped short. Laid out across the bed was what, he assumed, was his outfit for the day. The doors of the closet were open. Gordon counted three more suits hanging up, at least a dozen shirts and several tasteful ties in subdued tones. Not to mention underwear and socks folded on a shelf next to them and, Gordon crept closer, yes even two pairs of shoes and a new pair of sneakers. Gordon wasn’t even going to attempt to guess how Alfred had decided what shoe size he took.
He sank down on the giant bed. He ignored the impulse to stretch out, just for a moment, and picked up the suit jacket. It was made of some lightweight weave and even though it looked almost exactly like a suit he’d owned, it was clearly made of some outrageously expensive fabric. Way, way beyond a cop’s salary, though possibly not beyond a Commissioner’s—assuming the Commissioner was single and prepared to spend a significant proportion of his salary on his wardrobe. The inappropriateness of the whole situation finally sank in. People were going to notice. They were going to wonder.
Still, it wasn’t like he had a choice at the moment. Unless they came up with a better plan, Wayne was right, he was safer staying close to Wayne—to Batman.
As he put the jacket down he saw one final item he hadn’t noticed before. He picked it up, astonished at how light the bullet-proof vest was.
Gordon stared at himself in the mirror. If it weren’t for his plain serviceable glasses, the same style he’d worn for more than a decade, he’d have thought he was looking at a stranger. The suit was a simple yet elegant style, perfectly cut. You couldn’t even tell he had on the vest. It had obviously been tailor-made for him. Alfred must have had to judge his measurements. With his hair still damp and combed back from the shower, and his newly clean-shaven appearance, Wayne was right, he did look younger. And… not bad. It’d been a long time since he’d paid attention to the way he looked.
There was no sign of Alfred or Wayne when he came out of his room. He followed the muffled echoes of voices. Wayne and Alfred were in a bathroom. Wayne’s hair was damp from the shower and he was wearing a pair of black dress pants and a short-sleeved tight t-shirt. He was holding up his injured arm while Alfred, glasses perched on the end of his nose, inspected the wound. An open medical kit sat on the sink beside them. They both looked up at him with startled expressions.
“Sorry,” he mumbled, painfully aware that he’d intruded. He started to back away.
“Wait!” Wayne called. Gordon stopped. “It’s okay,” Wayne said, “we were just discussing getting you to work. Alfred thinks we should take the Rolls, on the grounds it’s bullet proof and pretty much built like a tank.” Wayne smiled at him conspiratorially. “I think we should take the Veyron.” Gordon stared at him. Wayne’s smile faded a bit. “No? Too showy, you think?” He sighed theatrically. “Just the Ferrari, then?”
“You have a Veyron?” Gordon said, his voice embarrassingly high-pitched. He cleared his throat hastily.
Wayne’s smile was pure evil. “Wanna see?”
Gordon couldn’t help the smile that spread across his face. He suspected it matched Wayne’s.
He walked around the car, admiring its lines, running his fingertips lightly over the curved hood. He looked up. Wayne was watching him, not the car. Wayne held up the key. “Would you like to drive?” he asked nonchalantly, as though he were offering the family sedan, not a million-dollar sports car.
He was tempted. His fingers itched to take the key Wayne was dangling. But what if something happened? Wayne obviously saw his indecision.
“You’re right,” Wayne said. “This isn’t the time.” He unlocked the doors and slid into the driver’s side. Gordon slid into his own seat. He looked around admiringly, then noticed that Wayne was just sitting watching him. “After all this is over?” Wayne offered.
Gordon smiled at him. “It’s a deal.”
Wayne grinned back. Sports cars weren’t built with personal space in mind and the atmosphere was intimate, suddenly too close. Gordon felt his heart rate pick up as they stared at each other. Wayne wasn’t making any move to start the car. Gordon shifted uncomfortably. “Mr Wayne,” he started, not sure what he was going to say.
There was a tense pause.
“Bruce,” Gordon acknowledged, finally. Wayne’s expression relaxed and he turned back to start the car.
Wayne was right. It would look odd if he kept calling him by his last name, considering they were supposed to be on such friendly terms that Wayne was the person he’d turned to when he needed a place to stay. Wayne was—Gordon sighed. He’d have to start thinking of him as Bruce. He wasn’t sure why he was having such a hard time with the idea anyway. After all, technically he’d known the man, trusted the man, for years.
While he hadn’t been paying attention the garage door had been opening. The engine roared into life. The car leaped forward with a screech of tires, accelerating way too fast, up the ramp into the street, where Wayne, in an incredible display of reflexes, managed to swing around the elderly Toyota that had been driving sedately past. He avoided the lamp post that appeared directly in their path and steered them back onto the road without even knocking over the trash can on the sidewalk, though it teetered precariously for a few seconds.
Wayne slowed down to a respectable speed and turned to grin widely at him. The man hadn’t even broken a sweat. Gordon slowly relaxed his death grip he’d maintained on the dashboard and the back of Wayne’s seat.
“Better than coffee for a pick-me-up,” Gordon said mildly, reaching for his seatbelt and calmly fastening it. Wayne laughed.
Gordon noticed that though Wayne appeared relaxed, his eyes never stopped moving, checking the mirrors constantly. It was a sobering reminder of the reality of the situation, of the danger he was still in. Gordon kept a lookout as they drove as well, but he kept getting distracted, finding himself watching Wayne’s finely manicured hand as he shifted gears.
“I’ll come in with you,” Wayne said out of the blue, suddenly serious.
It took Gordon a moment to understand he meant to come up to the M.C.U.. “Are you kidding?” Gordon asked incredulously, shaking his head. “I’ve got enough to explain already, without you coming in with me like a… like a…”
“Friend?” Wayne suggested, his mouth compressed into a familiar line.
Gordon glanced at him exasperatedly. “You know what I mean. Anything I need removed discreetly from the office I’ll leave on my desk and you can get it later.”
“That’s not why—” Wayne shut his mouth abruptly. He maneuvred past several lanes of slow moving traffic, more than once through a space Gordon would have thought impossible.
After a tense couple of minutes Wayne glanced at Gordon again, then back at the traffic. “It’s not safe,” he said, staring directly ahead. Without me, hung in the air. Wayne’s hands were clenched tightly on the steering wheel.
Gordon didn’t try to protest that he’d be safe, just because he’d be in a building full of cops. He knew better. Instead he said, “I’ll be careful.”
Wayne didn’t look convinced, but he didn’t say anything else. Instead he roared up to the station and brought the car to an abrupt, showy halt, drawing the eyes of everyone in the vicinity, including all the cops who had been entering or leaving the building.
“Thanks,” Gordon muttered.
Wayne looked at him. “The more people watching you, the safer you are,” he said unrepentantly.
“Not if there’s a sniper waiting,” Gordon said flippantly, instantly regretting it as Wayne’s eyes darkened.
Wayne looked like he was rethinking letting Gordon get out of the car. Gordon put his hand on Wayne’s arm reassuringly. “I’ve got the vest on,” he said. “I’ll be fine.” Wayne’s eyes dropped to where Gordon’s hand rested on his arm. Wayne had long eyelashes, Gordon suddenly noticed, and then, irritated with himself for getting distracted, slid his hand away and reached for the car door.
Wayne grasped his arm in turn as Gordon started to get out of the car. “Call me when you’re ready to leave,” he said.
“Okay,” Gordon said agreeably.
Wayne obviously wasn’t buying it. “I mean it, Jim.”
Gordon sank back down into the seat and looked at him. It was the first time Wayne had called him that. He looked at him properly. Wayne was worried and was allowing Gordon to see it. Bruce Wayne cared about him.
“I will,” he promised, a bit stunned. “Bruce.”
Bruce smiled at him. Gordon smiled back. Then Bruce’s eyes flickered past him and Gordon looked around. They’d attracted quite a crowd.
“Be careful,” murmured Bruce. “Watch for people who are looking at you, not the car.”
“I will,” he said reassuringly. “I’ll call you.”
Bruce smirked. “I bet you say that to all the boys.”
Gordon double-taked so fast he felt his neck twinge. Bruce raised his eyebrows at him, still smirking. Gordon slammed the door, harder than necessary. What was that, flirting? He turned away, ignoring the squeal of tires as Bruce roared off. The crowd was starting to disperse now that the shiny thing had gone. Nevertheless he kept a wary eye out as he ran up the steps, pausing to check behind him before he went in.
People were transparently glad to see him. There were smiles of welcome and even the occasional hand extended for him to shake. Gordon felt humbled, and also relieved. His reputation as an honest cop was well-known, so it spoke well for the morale of his department that he was apparently so well-regarded. He was not looking forward to explaining that the reason they’d had to put out an A.P.B. on him was because he’d gotten drunk and fallen asleep at the home of Gotham’s most famously decadent playboy billionaire.
He needed coffee, and not the liquid tar from the coffee machine. Feeling he may as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb, he shamelessly collared the nearest rookie and asked him to go get him some decent coffee from the shop on the corner.
Then he made a beeline for his office, acknowledging the relieved smiles of his officers but not stopping until he was inside and the door was shut. He sat down and turned on the computer. He’d barely had time to open his email program when the door burst open. Stephens and Morten rushed in and stood staring at him. “Shut the door, will you?” Gordon said, waving at them to sit down.
“Boss, you’re okay,” Stephens exclaimed.
“Yes, I am,” Gordon said, resisting the urge to say something sarcastic. They’d been worried about him.
Morten half raised his hand, as if to ask permission to speak. Gordon sighed internally. He thought maybe he’d made a mistake promoting Morten into Ramirez’s position when he did. He had good instincts but he was too young, too… diffident. But they’d been short on cops who could do the job who actually wanted the job. No one was exactly volunteering for promotion these days—it was seen as the quickest way to get your damn fool head shot off.
“Sir, what happened? We thought the mob had finally got you!”
“Yeah, where were you?” Stephens chimed in.
He didn’t want to tell them the ridiculous story Wayne had come up with, didn’t want them to think that he was that sort of person, that sort of cop. They were looking at him expectantly, looking earnest and concerned. Gordon reminded himself that he’d trusted Ramirez and she’d been betraying him all along. He couldn’t take the chance.
“I’m sorry I worried everybody,” Gordon said truthfully. He took off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. “It’s actually a bit embarrassing,” he said. “I went over to a friend’s house for dinner, had too much to drink and fell asleep. My watch had stopped, so the alarm didn’t go off.”
Morten believed him, it was easy to see, and why wouldn’t he? Stephens was going to be a little harder to convince—he’d known Gordon nearly twenty years, after all. Stephens had been one of the cops who’d looked the other way, had taken the odd handout, but he hadn’t gone looking for it, and when Gordon had been promoted to Lieutenant, Stephens had come to him and asked to be on his team. He thought he could trust Stephens but he couldn’t rely on his own judgement. He had to be sure.
“The first I heard of the burglary was when we woke up and turned on the news.”
Stephens was looking at him speculatively. He’d have figured out there was more to the story. Gordon looked at him steadily, daring him to call him on it. Stephens leaned forward. “So who was the friend?” he asked with a cheerful leer. Gordon’s jaw dropped. That some people would think that had somehow completely failed to occur to him. He remembered Bruce’s flirting and realized that it had certainly occurred to Bruce. And yet he’d still thought this was the best plan.
“Bruce Wayne,” Gordon said, repressively.
“Oh,” Stephens said, disappointed. Gordon was relieved.
Morten looked like he was bursting with curiosity though.
“Yes, Morten?” Gordon said wearily. There was a knock on the door and Gordon held up his hand: hold that thought.
The rookie came in with his coffee. He put it on his desk and sidled out. As soon as the door closed Morten leaned forward. “Sir, you’re friends with Bruce Wayne?” It was clear that Gordon had gone up in his estimation. “Is it true that he’s the sixth richest man in the world?”
Gordon sighed. “I wouldn’t know about that.”
Stephens was struggling with something.
“Morten, could you leave us alone, please?” Gordon said, watching Stephens.
Gordon waited until Morten had closed the door. “What’s on your mind, Carl?”
Stephens hesitated. Gordon waited patiently.
“Honestly, boss?” Stephens finally blurted. “I’m worried about you, since Barbara left. You work too much, you never go drinking with the boys, but now you’re out partying with a rich freak like Wayne?”
“What do you mean, freak?” Gordon asked mildly, his stomach clenching.
“Well, you know,” Stephens shrugged, “into weird shit, like a lot of that set are. Remember a couple of years ago, he got drunk and burnt down his family home?”
“I remember,” said Gordon, and suddenly he did. That would have been just after Batman showed up, around the time the Scarecrow had contaminated the water supply and the city had been on the verge of destroying itself. He wondered now if Wayne Manor burning down had been an accident after all. He’d have to ask Bruce.
“So, what?” he asked. “Because of one mistake you think I’m a drunk?”
“Whoa, you know I didn’t mean anything like that.” Stephens shrugged. “Just, you got to admit, this isn’t like you.”
It wasn’t like him. Stephens was right. He was touched that Stephens recognized that and was concerned about him. He really, really didn’t want to think that the traitor might be him.
He picked up his coffee and took a sip to give himself time to think.
Stephens cleared his throat. “Anything else, boss?”
“No, not now,” Gordon said. “I’ll get caught up here and talk to you later.”
“Right.” At the door, he paused. “By the way,” Stephens gestured towards his mouth. “What’s with the, uh, new look?”
Gordon resisted the urge to touch his lip self-consciously. “Nothing, no reason,” he said. “Just felt like a change.” He guessed he’d be getting that question a lot.
Stephens was looking at him skeptically. “Uh huh,” Stephens said. “You know, usually when a guy goes to a whole lot of effort with his appearance it’s because of a lady,” he said, pronouncing it ‘laaydeee,’ razzing him. “You sure you weren’t out painting the town red with a new lady friend last night, Commissioner?”
“I’m sure,” Gordon said lightly, annoyed, but making himself smile as though he found Stephens’ teasing amusing.
Stephens hesitated. “Glad you’re okay,” he suddenly said and ducked out before Gordon could reply. Gordon blinked in surprise. He turned back to the computer, absentmindedly sipping the coffee as he worked through his backlog of emails.
Nobody else came in to bother him. Eventually he became aware that his neck and shoulders had stiffened up and that he’d developed a tension headache behind his eyes. He’d been staring at a computer screen for several hours and he hadn’t even finished answering his email. He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes, exhaustion creeping over him. He wondered if he could get away with leaving early, getting a fresh start tomorrow.
He looked up to find Bruce Wayne lounging in his doorway, looking way too debonair. Gordon smiled involuntarily.
Bruce didn’t return his smile. “Forensics have finished going over your place,” he said, his mouth a grim line.
Gordon’s stomach dropped at Bruce’s expression. “Is it bad?”
“You need to see for yourself. My people are there now, you can tell them what you want to salvage.”
“So, that’d be a yes,” Gordon said heavily, turning off the computer and joining Bruce at the door. He was surprised when Bruce laid a hand on his shoulder for a moment, stepping out of the doorway to allow Gordon to pass.
They got some looks as they walked out together—surprise mostly, a few speculative, a few more disapproving. Gordon registered them vaguely. Most of his attention was focused on what he would find at his apartment. From Bruce’s attitude he had a sinking feeling it was going to break the bank to get it repaired. He’d have to take out a loan, if his credit was even good enough on top of the mortgage he was already spending a good part of his salary on. And pretty soon he’d have child support to pay as well.
Lost in thought, Gordon barely registered the crowd that had gathered around the car again, though he was aware of Bruce at his shoulder the whole way there, opening the car door for him. He got in and put on the belt mechanically.
Bruce’s hand on his shoulder brought him back to the present. Bruce was angled toward him, other hand resting on the steering wheel. “We’ll fix it, Jim.”
All right for him, Gordon thought resentfully, then felt ashamed of the petty reaction. Bruce was determined to protect him, to take care of him. Gordon had been taking care of other people since he got his first job at fourteen to help pay the bills and there was a small, tired part of him that wanted to abrogate responsibility just for a little while, to let someone else, someone he trusted, take care of things.
He was aware that it was tiredness affecting his thinking, tiredness and—while he was being honest—a certain amount of depression that had dogged him for a long time, even before Barbara had left.
What would it hurt, if he did let Bruce Wayne deal with this one thing? Bruce wanted to. Bruce wasn’t going to think less of him. They were friends, partners even, in a way.
He put his head back against the seat and let out his breath in a sigh, aware that Bruce was glancing at him worriedly.
“You can stop doing that,” Gordon said mildly. “I’m just taking a moment.”
“If you say so.”
Even the outside of the apartment had been defaced. Gordon stared at it for a long time. This was more than random vandalism by opportunists. This was a statement. He was aware that Bruce was giving him time, sitting quietly beside him.
Eventually he steeled himself and went inside, Bruce close behind him. Even though he’d been expecting the worst, the devastation inside still made him stop and close his eyes for a moment. He took a deep breath, forcing the grief back. It was only a house, possessions, but it was also the life he and Barbara had made together. It was memories. They were tarnished now.
Several young people, dressed casually in shorts in deference to the still stifling heat that blanketed the city, moved purposefully about, sorting all of Gordon’s possessions into boxes and trash bags.
Bruce stepped into his line of sight. He was looking around, almost aimlessly, but when he met Gordon’s eyes for a moment the hazel eyes were coolly assessing.
One of the youths approached. “Mr Wayne, did you or… Commissioner Gordon… want to check that we’re sorting things the way you wanted?”
Bruce looked at Gordon. Gordon shrugged. “Right now, I don’t really want to see any of it ever again.” Bruce regarded him a moment, then nodded. He turned to the girl and smiled charmingly. “You guys are doing a great job, Katya.” The girl ducked her head a bit and blushed. “Just send everything that’s salvageable to my address. The rest can go to the dump.”
Gordon stepped over the slashed carpets and broken glass and carefully made his way up the stairs. Even the banisters had been broken and ripped down. In one place it was as if someone had taken a sledgehammer to the stairs; they were not much more than splinters of wood. He carefully stepped upwards, slipping a bit on a large splinter, losing his balance. Then his arm was grasped and he was pulled upwards and found his footing again on the landing, Bruce still clasping his arm.
“How did you get up here?” Gordon gasped, stepping back. For some reason their close proximity was making his pulse race—no, it was the close call, that had to be it—but still, putting space between them seemed suddenly very important.
“The fire escape,” Bruce explained.
There wasn’t much that was salvageable from the kids’ room. Gordon picked up a teddy bear that’d had its stuffing pulled out. It wasn’t one of their favorites but it made Gordon glad for the first time that Barbara probably had already decided she wasn’t coming back before she left, and had packed accordingly. Gordon had never thought to check. He’d felt angry and even betrayed when she’d left, but all he’d done was work longer, work harder. He’d just hoped, because it was better than thinking about the alternative, that once this whole thing had blown over Barbara would come back.
Their bedroom was even worse. He couldn’t see anything that hadn’t been marked or damaged to some extent. The bed, their bed, had been almost completely destroyed. He went over to where one half-pulled-down curtain draped over the window and ducked under it onto the fire escape, gratefully gulping in breaths of air. Even the late afternoon smog, trapped low by the muggy air felt like an improvement. The fire escape had always been a place to escape to. Today he reached for the mental peace it had always afforded him a little desperately.
In front of him a hand appeared, holding out a beer, ice-cold to judge by the condensation forming on it. Gordon took the beer and turned to lean against the railing. Bruce retreated to sit on the stairs, the rest of the six-pack sitting next to him, head thrown back as he downed half the bottle in one go. Gordon was tempted to follow his example but restrained himself to taking more sedate mouthfuls, even though the ice-cold brew might just have been the best thing he’d ever tasted.
Bruce was on his second beer, already. “Easy,” Gordon said, “at this rate I won’t be able to, in all conscience, allow you to drive.”
Bruce shrugged. He was leaning forward, arms resting on his knees, rolling the bottle between his hands. “You’ll have to then,” he said unconcernedly.
“Who are those kids?” Gordon said, gesturing vaguely in the direction of the downstairs, where strangers were making decisions about which of his possessions he was going to keep.
Bruce stared at his beer bottle, twisting it back and forth between his hands. “I read somewhere that if people don’t have meaningful work for the first couple of years after they leave school, they won’t ever.” He shrugged. “I don’t even know if that’s particularly true, or if doing odd jobs for me counts as meaningful work, but they’re off the streets, and if they decide they want to try their hand at a particular trade, Lucius finds them a place working in the company.” He finished off the beer and put the bottle down, reaching for another, though he didn’t open it immediately.
Gordon looked at him in surprise. “I’m impressed,” he said, trying not to sound patronizing.
Bruce shrugged, looking self-conscious. “It’s something my father would do,” he said, starting on the beer.
Gordon wanted to say something else, but the closed expression on Bruce’s face clearly said he didn’t want to talk about it anymore.
Instead, Gordon leaned against the railing looking over the street he’d lived in for the last thirteen years, sharing his life with someone, raising a family. Now it was gone, all of it, and Gordon suddenly couldn’t care less if he never saw the place again.
He’d sell it, he thought. He just needed to make some inquiries, find out if it was worth another loan to fix it up before he sold it, or if it’d be better just to take whatever he could get for it and make a clean start. Barbara wouldn’t object; she’d never really liked the neighborhood.
He sighed deeply. He’d have to find a new place. A one bedroom place closer to the M.C.U., ideally.
Bruce was talking. Gordon forced himself to focus on what Bruce was saying, something about renovations and security systems and fixing the place up so that Gordon could go home. Gordon had thought he was pretty resigned to the way things were but a sudden wave of bitterness swept through him. “My home’s gone to stay at her mother’s. My home calls me at bedtime to tell me about the sports trophy she’s won, or the math competition he wants enter, but he’s not sure he’s good enough for. My home is gone.”
“I’m sorry,” Bruce said softly.
Gordon looked at him. “It’s for the best,” he admitted, more calmly. “I couldn’t protect them.” He pointed back at the apartment with the bottle, noticing to his surprise that the beer was nearly gone. “I couldn’t protect them. What if they’d been here? Would you have been able to save us all?”
“I would have tried.” Bruce’s voice was low, not quite Batman’s growl.
“I know you would have. And maybe if you were at full strength you’d have been able to, because I’ve seen you achieve the impossible more times than I can count. But you’re wounded and you’re not always going to be there. Now that it’s happened it’s obvious that it was always going to come down to this. Maybe there was a time when I could have walked away—turned my back on Gotham and made a new life elsewhere, but I’m committed now, just as you are.” He held out his hand and Bruce handed him another beer.
“I’m glad,” Bruce said bluntly.
Gordon stared at him in surprise.
Bruce looked at him defiantly. “I’m glad because I’m selfish and I don’t want to do this without you.”
The words hung in the air between them. Bruce looked away first, placing the empty bottle at his feet beside the others. Gordon expected him to reach for another immediately but Bruce tipped his head back, staring at the darkening sky. “I wish the weather would break,” he said.
The heat felt oppressive of a sudden and Gordon loosened his tie and resisted the urge to rub the back of his neck, prickly with sweat.
Bruce stood up. “Come on, let’s go home. Alfred'll have dinner ready.” He started down the fire escape. Gordon glanced back into the bedroom. There was nothing left for him in there. He followed Bruce.
Bruce was leaning against the car, talking to a young man with a pierced eyebrow and a blue stripe in his hair. He held up the car keys as Gordon approached. Gordon saw the youth’s eyes go from the keys to Bruce to Gordon. His expression didn’t change though. He nodded at whatever Bruce had said to him and headed back into the apartment.
“Muhammad and the others have just about finished the downstairs,” Bruce said, as Gordon took the keys and walked around the car. “They’ll have the rest done by the time it gets dark. I’ll leave a couple of security people here overnight, to discourage any random petty criminals, but they have orders not to engage if anything heavy goes down, just to call me.”
Gordon paused as he was about to get into the car. “You think they’ll come back?”
“No, not at all,” Bruce said, sliding into the passenger seat. He looked much bigger, compacted into such a tight space.
“Let’s just call it advertising, shall we?”
Gordon got it. “And I’m the bait.”
“Only in the sense that I’m hoping that whoever is trying to kill you is lured into trying again, only this time on my terms.”
For a moment Gordon thought about being angry that Bruce hadn’t consulted him. It was his life on the line. And it wasn’t exactly the best plan ever—Bruce couldn’t be Batman 24/7 and still stay close enough to Gordon to protect him, and Bruce Wayne couldn’t exactly carry around all the fancy equipment that gave Batman his edge. Bruce’s life was in danger just from being around him. “Promise me you’ll wear a vest too,” he finally said.
“Already am,” Bruce said.
“Really?” Gordon asked, not sure why he was so surprised
“You don’t believe me?” Bruce’s fingers went to the buttons on his shirt.
“No, I believe you,” Gordon said, strangely flustered. Bruce grinned at him.
Gordon looked away, a flush starting at his neck. He fumbled with the key and finally got the car started. He couldn’t help the satisfied smile that spread across his face at the roar of the powerful engine.
“…record temperatures, isn’t that what they’re saying? Jim?”
“Hmm?” Gordon looked away from where Bruce was twirling Murphy’s date around the small dance floor. He was flirting outrageously by the looks of the delighted smile and flushed cheeks of the young lady. Bruce had better watch that. Murphy was looking daggers at him from his table.
“I was just saying that this unseasonable weather we’ve been having can’t go on much longer,” Ruth Schiffer said.
“No,” Gordon agreed, reaching for his coffee. He was designated driver again, by the looks of things. Not that Bruce ever had more than three drinks. Nothing that would impair his judgement, slow him down. Gordon’s eyes drifted back to the dance floor. Bruce looked over and caught his eye and smiled at him, but his eyes flickered past Gordon watchfully.
“Thank goodness for air-conditioning,” Ruth sighed. “He can’t keep his eyes off you,” she added casually.
Gordon started, and stared at her. “What?”
“Oh, don’t mind me, honey,” she said comfortably. Ruth had never really stopped treating him like one of her boys, even after Roy’s health had finally forced him to take a desk job. Gordon had always been grateful to them both. Roy had taken him on as his partner, no questions asked. He hadn’t held Gordon’s blemished record against him, or judged him. Ruth had been, if anything, even more welcoming, taking him under her wing when he was new to the city. They’d never know how much those Sunday family dinners had meant to him. That was why he’d insisted on coming to Roy’s retirement party over Bruce’s objections that the hall they’d hired was too exposed, that it was too risky.
“How are the renovations coming along?” Ruth asked.
Gordon couldn’t very well admit that he didn’t know. Alfred had insisted on overseeing the repairs and Gordon had gratefully let him. He hadn’t even asked about costs, trusting Alfred to know what he was doing. Truthfully, he couldn’t bring himself to care. Two weeks had not changed his mind. He just wanted to be rid of the place. As soon as all this was over he’d have to start looking for a new place to live. It just seemed too hard at the moment. Between Bruce insisting on driving him everywhere, and coming home to dinners prepared for him and all the comforts of home, he’d been… lazy. Probably too comfortable. He shouldn’t let himself get used to this.
“Fine,” he said finally, too late realising he’d given away his distraction.
Ruth nodded towards the dance floor. “And you’re staying with Bruce Wayne? I didn’t know you were such good friends.”
Gordon didn’t know how to answer that. There’d been sidelong looks and some whispers when he’d shown up with Bruce in tow, Bruce looking as elegant as ever, standing out in his thousand dollar suit. No one had actually said anything to his face yet, which was just as well. He didn’t really have a good answer if anyone actually came out and asked why he’d brought Bruce Wayne with him.
Gordon tugged impatiently at his own tie, the still-unfamiliar feel of silk instead of polyester giving him pause. He hoped it wasn’t as obvious as he thought it was that his suit was of a better cut than he was used to. Ruth was looking at him speculatively. He saw her eyes drift over the stylish haircut that Alfred had given him after he’d reluctantly agreed to a ‘trim’, and come to rest on his bare upper lip. The faint difference in skin tone had disappeared quickly, one good thing about this heatwave. Still, he had to resist the urge to cover it with his hand.
“Yes, well,” Gordon said, uncomfortably. He didn’t like lying to Ruth, even by omission. “It’s just until the place is liveable again.”
“Yes, I heard it was badly damaged,” Ruth said. “Well, if you wear out your welcome, you know you’re welcome to Frank’s old room. He’s going into the Peace Corps as soon as he finishes college, you know.”
“I heard,” Gordon nodded. “You must be very proud of him.”
Gordon looked over at the dance floor. Bruce was dancing with a gaggle of women now, all of them looking thrilled at the attention. He hoped he wasn’t going to have to deal with a gang of pissed off boyfriends later.
He saw Melanie Hart heading towards their table and his heart sank. She was the biggest gossip in the department and to be honest, a total bitch. He’d bet money she was coming over to find out what she could about Bruce and him, and their ‘relationship’.
He really didn’t want to deal with that. It was bad enough having to pretend not to notice the knowing looks, the conversations that stopped suddenly at work when he entered a room, the whispers... living with Bruce Wayne now… got rid of that God-awful mustache… wife left him, you know.…
Now’d be a good time to visit the restroom. “Excuse me, Ruth,” he said, standing up.
Her hand resting on his arm stopped him. He looked down at her. “I like the new look,” she said. “A new start’s just what you need.”
Gordon stared at her for a moment, disconcerted. He couldn’t very well tell her that she’d misinterpreted things without explaining why.
“Thank you,” he said finally, and fled.
In the restroom he bent over the sink, splashing water on his face. A flicker of movement in the mirror caught his eye as he straightened. Instinctively, he jerked to the side. Something scraped along the side of the Kevlar vest and Gordon spared a thought to be grateful to Bruce for guilting him into wearing it all the time. Then he was struggling to hold his attacker’s arm in place to try to wrest the knife from his hand.
An arm locked around the man’s throat and dragged him away, the man thrashing helplessly against the grip of iron, gradually weakening, the knife dropping harmlessly to the floor.
“I think you can let go now,” Gordon said, dryly. His erstwhile assassin hung limp and unconscious in Bruce’s grip.
“All right,” Bruce said, letting go suddenly and stepping back. The assassin fell heavily to the floor, his face perilously close to the urinal.
Gordon tilted his head, trying to remember where he knew the man from.
“Name’s Sonny De Luca,” Bruce said. “Strictly small-time. Either they’ve upped the bounty or the mob’s putting pressure on the community.”
Bruce leaned against the vanity. “Why good?” he asked. “De Luca won’t know anything useful.”
“Good because it means something’s finally happening. I’m sick of waiting for the other shoe to drop.” Gordon took out his cell phone. “You should go back to the dance floor, there’s no point you getting involved.”
The door opened and a young officer Gordon only knew by face walked in. He stopped abruptly, looking from the unconscious figure on the floor to Gordon and Bruce, his expression startled.
“Never mind,” Gordon sighed, and called it in. “There’s a black and white on the way; we’ll keep him in Holding for now.”
At the station there were more startled looks. Gordon watched as Bruce was led off to have his statement taken, then went to the interview room where de Luca was now sitting, a truculent expression on his face. The interview didn’t take long. De Luca postured and threatened, but it was clear he didn’t know anything, just as they assumed. In the end Gordon ordered him to be taken to County.
It was getting late. Gordon stood for a moment, irresolute. He didn’t want to be here. He wanted to be curled up on the couch with the view over Gotham that he’d already gotten used to, with the shiny hi-tech laptop that had magically appeared that first night in Bruce’s penthouse, all his files from work already loaded on it. He figured he really ought to stay for a while though, touch base with officers he didn’t come into contact with very often, especially lately.
When he got to his office Bruce was lounging against his desk, casually flipping through the work that was piling up in his in-tray since just that afternoon. “Hasn’t Gotham’s finest had the memo that this is a paperless society?” he said, sounding a bit bemused.
“There will always be a certain amount of paperwork,” Gordon said grumpily, taking the files from his hands.
Bruce merely raised his eyebrows. “Back to the party, or home?” he asked mildly.
“Actually I thought I’d stay—” Gordon looked at the mild expression on Bruce’s face and wasn’t fooled. “Never mind,” he sighed. “Home, please.”
Bruce smiled, looking pleased. Gordon mentally reviewed his words. Home. He hadn’t even thought about it when he’d said it.
Alfred had gone to bed by the time they got there, but there was a bottle of no doubt one hundred year old port decanting on the sideboard, and a fresh pot of Ethiopian fair-trade coffee and a plate of home-made cookies on the coffee table. Gordon collapsed on the couch and reached for the pot.
“Lives of the rich and famous,” he said, hearing the edge in his voice. “Sorry,” he said, rubbing a hand over his face tiredly. “I’m just jealous.”
“You don’t think he does this for me, do you?” Bruce asked, sounding amused. Bruce sprawled beside him, loosening his tie. “This is for your benefit.” He lowered his voice confidingly. “To be honest, I think he thinks you don’t eat enough.”
Gordon looked at the plate of cookies. “For me?” he said, touched, taking one and nibbling on it. He didn’t have much of a sweet tooth, and never really bothered with the store-bought sweets Barbara used to buy for the kids, but the cookie was delicious. He reached for another.
He had just taken a sip of coffee when Bruce said lightly, “Or it could be this is his way of welcoming you to the family,” and then smirked as Gordon inhaled sharply and the liquid went down the wrong way and he coughed and spluttered and abandoned any attempt to retain any dignity.
“Does he think…?”
Bruce took pity on him. “No, of course not,” he said, still smiling slightly. He leaned forward and poured himself a cup. “I think he likes having someone else around. We both do,” he added quietly, not looking at Gordon.
Gordon didn’t know what to say at the quiet admission. For the first time he looked at the huge penthouse and saw, not luxury and comfort, but something cold and sterile and empty. He wondered if it had been that much worse living in the Manor, or if the reminders of his parents and the familiarity of having things around him he’d known all his life had made it a place of comfort. All that was gone now, even though they were rebuilding the Manor. Gordon had driven past there once and seen the building crew, but hadn’t thought much about it at the time.
Then Bruce looked at him and smiled, the shadows gone from his face. “Time for all good Commissioners to be in bed, if I’m not mistaken.”
Gordon looked at his watch. It was nearly one. “I guess you’re right,” he said. He stood up. He looked at Bruce still nursing his cup. “Are you coming?” he asked and rolled his eyes and absolutely did not blush even a little bit when Bruce’s eyes lit up with amusement and he assumed an arch expression. “Don’t say a word,” he warned, as Bruce opened his mouth. Bruce pressed his lips together firmly. His eyes were laughing at Gordon.
Gordon had turned to stomp off to his room when he realized. “You’re going out again, aren’t you?”
“Just for a little while. Find out if there’s likely to be any more incidents like tonight. I have a feeling de Luca’s attack wasn’t authorized. It felt more like a spur of the moment thing.”
Gordon frowned, something niggling at the back of his mind as he cleaned his teeth and got into bed. It took him a long time to fall asleep.
When he opened his eyes, his first thought was that de Luca was a nobody but he had a cousin who worked for Giuseppe Bianci. The second was that sunlight was streaming in through the windows in an ominous way. He picked up his watch, fumbled his glasses on and squinted at the display. It was after eight already. The alarm function was off. He could have sworn he’d left it on. He could probably still get to work on time if he hurried. For a moment he thought about not hurrying, having a leisurely shower and taking his time over the breakfast that was no doubt waiting for him. Apparently he was living a life of gay abandon nowadays, probably nobody at work would even be surprised if he was late. It was surprisingly tempting.
Maybe living here was making him soft. That thought propelled him out of bed and into his clothes.
Bruce was hunched over a cup of coffee when he emerged, dressed already but showing only minimal awareness of his surroundings. Gordon threw together a couple of bacon sandwiches from the spread on the side table and grabbed the newspaper from where Alfred had left it folded next to his place.
“Come on,” he said, choosing a set of keys at random. “I have something I need to check out.”
“Is that the word on the street?”
“More like whisper,” Bruce said, getting up.
“It’s a start.”
Bruce appeared to have fallen asleep by the time they reached the first intersection. Gordon wasn’t convinced though, he’d hunched down and closed his eyes, but he didn’t look relaxed.
People stopped and stared when they pulled up at the Precinct. Gordon saw one person actually pointing them out to his neighbor. He nudged Bruce awake. “Something’s going on,” he said.
Bruce sat up, instantly alert. He looked around at the people gawking at them. “You might be right,” he agreed. “What do you want to do?”
“Nothing for now. They don’t look hostile—more like amused, if anything.” He looked at Bruce. “I know. I’ll be careful.”
“Make sure you do.”
Gordon retrieved his sandwich and paper from the back seat and got out, watching the traffic carefully as he crossed to the curb. Bruce was leaning casually against the passenger side door, unobtrusively scanning the area. Gordon ran up the steps and turned to nod at him. Bruce raised a hand in a casual wave and walked around to the driver’s side, dragging his fingers lightly along the hood of the Ferrari as he went around it. For some reason watching that made Gordon flush slightly, and he didn’t think it was the heat.
If anything it was more noticeable inside. His own officers, who should know better, either stared or averted their eyes. Gordon was becoming alarmed. He kept his face impassive though, greeted people as though he hadn’t noticed anything amiss.
Stephens was in the break room. Gordon stuck his head through the door. “My office, please,” he said, into the sudden silence.
Stephens followed him into the office and shut the door behind him. Gordon threw the paper and sandwich on to his desk and swung around, hands on hips. “Okay, what?” he demanded.
Stephens looked uncomfortable. He nodded towards the paper. “I take it you haven’t had a chance to read that yet,” he said. Gordon turned to stare at it, with a sudden sense of foreboding. He reached out and unfolded it.
POLICE COMMISSIONER ATTACKED IN PUBLIC RESTROOM.
Two weeks after Commissioner Jim Gordon’s home was all but destroyed by persons unknown while the Commissioner was staying overnight at the home of close friend Bruce Wayne, comes another attack on Gordon, this time in the restroom of the Old Soldiers’ Hall. Gordon and Wayne were attending the retirement party of Gordon’s ex-partner, Roy Davies, one of Gotham Police Department’s longest serving officers. The incident occurred in the public restroom, where the man had apparently been lying in wait. He attacked Gordon with a knife, but Gordon was able to restrain him with Wayne’s help. Gordon has been living with playboy Wayne since the first attack.
Gordon stumbled over to his chair and sat down heavily. “I see,” he said.
“Has someone been talking to the press, do you think?”
“It’s a possibility,” Stephens admitted bluntly. “But it could just be they were monitoring the radio last night and got lucky.”
“Yes, of course.” Gordon hesitated. “Carl—”
Stephens held up a hand. “Hey, don’t matter to me. The way I see it is—it don’t affect how you do your job, then it ain’t nobody’s business.”
Gordon looked at him for a minute, trying to see if he was on the level. Stephens had never been particularly bigoted that he’d noticed, no more than any other police officer, anyway, not that that was saying much. “Thanks,” he finally just said, awkwardly. Stephens shrugged.
Gordon was now gay in the eyes of the world. He’d better call Barbara. He doubted she got the Gotham Post delivered, but no doubt one of her friends would be calling her, if they hadn’t already.
He picked up the phone, but put it down again when Stephens took a seat. Time enough for that talk later. He sat back and pinched the bridge of his nose, feeling a headache starting.
“What do we have on Giuseppe Bianci?”
Stephens looked thoughtful. “You think he’s behind all this?”
“I think it’s a possibility.”
“Could be.” Stephens agreed. “With Maroni still undergoing physical therapy after that car accident, I guess it was only a matter of time before some wiseguy stepped up.”
“I thought Maroni’s kid was doing an okay job of minding the shop.”
“Yeah, Junior hasn’t been making any waves, and people got a lot of respect for Salvatore, so….”
“You mean, fear.”
“That too.” Stephens yawned. “If it is Bianci, things could get ugly. He’s bad news, and not so popular with the Family, I’ve heard.” He yawned, and then again, widely. “Sorry,” he said.
“Am I keeping you up?” Gordon asked dryly.
Stephens winked. “You’re not the only one with a new interest in life, if you know what I mean,” he said insinuatingly.
Gordon sighed, wishing he’d stopped for coffee. It was going to be a long day.
By 11.30 they’d finished going over Bianci’s connections, as well as anyone else they couldn’t totally rule out, and Gordon was feeling just about brave enough, or desperate enough, to go in search of caffeine when there was a knock on the door. Stephens got to his feet. “I’ll go nose around downtown. See what the word is on Bianci.”
Stephens pulled a face. “What am I, a rookie?” he asked, sounding amused.
“I mean it.”
A vaguely familiar face hovered in the doorway after Stephens left. “Yes?” Gordon asked, waving a bit impatiently at him to come in. Then he noticed the takeout cup in the young officer’s hand and he remembered where he knew him from; it was the rookie he’d sent to get coffee. “That isn’t for me, is it?” he asked incredulously. Oh God, did the kid think it was his job now?
“Um,” the rookie held out the cup, and Gordon, feeling vaguely guilty, took it. The boy hovered.
“Officer Huang, isn’t it?” Huang nodded. “What’s on your mind, son?”
Huang started to speak, then stopped. Mutely, he held out a piece of paper. A flyer.
Gordon took it and looked at it. “G.O.A.L.,” he read out loud.
“I represent the Gotham branch. We don’t have a lot of members—yet—but we have social events and you and, um, Mr Wayne, would be welcome to come along,” Huang explained, all in one breath, sounding nervous.
Gordon looked at him uncomprehendingly.
The penny dropped. The flyer was for the Gay Officers Action League.
Gordon could feel that he was flushing. He put the flyer aside carefully. “Thank you for the coffee,” he said, his thoughts whirling. “How much do I owe you?”
“Oh, it’s okay,” the boy said, blushing himself, and backed out of the door before Gordon could protest further.
Gordon stared blindly at the flyer for a long time before he reached for the top file in his in tray.
It was the darkening sky that alerted Gordon to the fact that it was getting late. He glanced at the clock and frowned. Bruce was late. Not that Bruce stopped by to pick him up every day, but they had a routine, and Bruce should have at least called by now so that Gordon knew to get a lift home with a black and white. Gordon had agreed to the compromise after the first time Bruce had sent Alfred to pick him up.
He’d probably just forgotten, or gotten caught up. Gordon stared at the phone, indecisive for once, but before he could make up his mind, his cell phone rang. He snatched it up.
“Are you still at work?”
“Where else would I be?”
“At home… waiting for me… naked in our bed….” The suddenly husky tone in Bruce’s voice sent an unexpected shiver of… something… through him and Gordon jerked the phone away from his ear and stared at it, his mind gone blank.
“Um.’ Gordon cleared his throat and forced himself to concentrate. They’d talked about the possibility of their phones calls being intercepted and the necessity of maintaining their cover. Bruce hadn’t said anything about this, though. Gordon suspected Bruce was amusing himself.
“Actually,” Bruce said in his normal voice, “I called to say I’m going to be late home, so don’t wait dinner on me.”
“Everything all right?”
“Just following something up—may have some good news on that deal we’re brokering.”
“Good. That’s good,” Gordon said. “So, uh, see you later.” He couldn’t bring himself to say anything more.
“I’ll be home as soon as I can,” Bruce said, and the husky note was back.
Gordon hung up on him.
The penthouse seemed too quiet. Alfred had the night off. He’d prepared dinner before he left. Gordon heated it up and sprawled on the couch in front of the windows, laptop next to him, paperwork spread around him. At one point he looked up and caught sight of his reflection, sitting alone, surrounded by work. He didn’t look up again.
Bruce still hadn’t come home by the time Gordon went to bed.
Bruce shouted with laughter when Gordon told him about G.O.A.L. at breakfast.
“It wasn’t funny at the time,” he said, a smile tugging at his mouth despite himself. Bruce looked good when he laughed, Gordon thought. He didn’t do it much. “What was I supposed to say?”
“It’s not like we’re actually going to be turning up to their picnics or whatever, hand in hand,” Gordon said. “When this is over—” He broke off as Alfred appeared at his shoulder.
“More coffee, sir?”
“Thank you, Alfred,” Gordon held up his cup, noting absently that Bruce had stopped smiling. Alfred, however—
“What’s so funny?”
“I was just thinking about the stir you’ll make when you arrive at the charity ball together this weekend.”
Gordon’s stomach dropped. The fundraiser for the Police Widows and Orphans Fund. How could he have forgotten? It was small consolation that Bruce was choking on his revolting protein drink.
Gordon watched Alfred lean over and pat Bruce helpfully on the back. “No. Absolutely not,” Bruce said, when he could talk again. “It’s too risky.”
“There’ll be questions if Commissioner Gordon doesn’t show up. Bruce Wayne can get away with blowing off such an important event, the Commissioner of Police can’t.”
“We’ll think of a reason,” Bruce snapped. “I can’t protect him there.” His hand was clenched on the table. Gordon stared at it, then back up at Bruce’s face, tight with worry.
“You know, I did manage to take care of myself for years before you came along,” he said mildly. “I’ll make sure security is watertight. You can check it yourself if it’ll make you feel better.”
He could see that Bruce wasn’t finished arguing, but just then Gordon’s phone rang, and he went to fish it out of his jacket.
“Gordon,” he barked, as he walked back to the table. It was Stephens, with news.
“Guess who they just fished out of the river,” he said, when he hung up.
“I suspected this might happen.”
“And you just let it?”
“Better the devil you know,” Bruce said, and his voice was implacable. Gordon stared at him, shocked. Batman stared back at him, eyes cold, unforgiving.
“So if Maroni’s back in charge, does that mean the hit’s off?” Gordon said, unsettled by the change. He’d gotten too comfortable with Bruce Wayne, allowed himself to forget how close to the surface his alter ego was.
“I can’t be sure yet. Until I can, let’s not take any chances.” Bruce smiled again and held up the coffee jug invitingly. The charming playboy was back.
“If I have to make nice to one more spoiled sycophantic socialite, I won't be responsible for my actions,” Gordon muttered.
“Try saying that five times fast,” Bruce smiled, nodding at an old woman wearing jewelry that cost more than Gordon's house who was waving at him, turning to talk to a portly man Gordon recognized as one of the key industrialists in Gotham.
Gordon tugged at his collar. The bow tie was actually strangling him, he was sure of it. He still wasn't sure how he'd gotten talked into wearing a monkey suit anyway. He looked stupid, not like Bruce who looked like he'd been born wearing a tux. He'd tried putting his foot down, but Alfred had looked so disappointed in him that he'd found himself caving in. Bruce had laughed at him, and when Jim glared at him had said, with way too much glee, “Welcome to my life.”
So far the people Gordon had been introduced to by Bruce had mostly fallen over themselves to show their support for Gotham’s new power couple. Gordon would bet a month’s pay though that if it had been anyone but Bruce Wayne not everyone would be so accepting. A waitress materialized at his elbow and Gordon cast the woman a grateful look as he helped himself to a couple of glasses of wine. She smiled at him, looking way too amused.
“Here,” he said, grumpily. He thrust one glass towards Bruce, who was now holding forth to a group of beautiful women about the perils of big game hunting in Africa. Had Bruce even been to Africa? Also, given the insinuations being made about them in the papers and the fact that they’d very publicly arrived together, he'd have expected Gotham's socialites to have given up seeking Bruce Wayne's attention, but apparently not. Gordon absolutely was not in the least annoyed about this because, Bruce's confusing behavior notwithstanding, this whole thing was pretend and would all be over soon anyway. Gordon's life would go back to normal. Whatever that was nowadays.
Bruce wrapped his hand around Gordon's on the glass. He looked at Gordon and somehow with just a slight shift in his body language it was clear that Gordon had his complete attention. Out of the corner of his eye Gordon could see that it was obvious to the rest of the group too. The women, looking disappointed, drifted away.
“Thanks.” Bruce smiled at him, a real smile, intimate, not the smile Bruce Wayne wore in public, and if Gordon could tell, no doubt anyone else who happened to be looking at them could too. He disentangled their fingers, feeling self-conscious.
“Stop that,” he mumbled, lifting his glass to his lips, looking around to see if they were drawing attention. Some people looked away when he looked at them, but others stared openly, some just curiously, one or two openly hostile. Gordon sighed. He was beginning to regret allowing Bruce to talk him into this plan.
Across the room the crowd shifted and parted. Gordon blinked in disbelief. “What the hell is he doing here?” he growled.
Bruce followed his gaze. “He was invited. Maroni makes annual sizable contributions to the Police Widows and Orphans Fund.”
“It doesn’t seem right.”
Bruce lifted his glass to his lips. “Besides,” he said, smiling genially at the room in general, haven’t you heard the phrase ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’?”
Maroni was making his way towards them. He still carried a fancy cane, but more as if it was an affectation now. His limp was barely noticeable. “Commissioner,” he said smoothly, “Mr Wayne.”
“Maroni,” Gordon acknowledged tightly.
“Nice shindig,” Maroni said.
“Wouldn’t have thought this was your sort of party.”
Maroni looked amused. “As it happens, I came to warn you.”
“I’m listening,” Gordon said. Beside him, Bruce had stiffened. Gordon watched uneasily the long assessing stare Maroni gave him. Gordon could almost feel the effort Bruce made as he deliberately relaxed and stared blandly back at Maroni.
Maroni looked back at Gordon. “I understand you’ve had some unpleasantness….”
“You could say that.”
“Needless to say, I do not condone attacks upon our fair city’s constabulary. I had thought that with the person responsible neutralized—”
“That we could put all this unpleasantness behind us.”
“It appears that Bianci was more ambitious than I had realized.”
“A professional assassin.”
Gordon was aware of Bruce shifting closer, at his shoulder. Maroni was looking at Bruce curiously. Gordon followed Maroni’s gaze. Bruce’s face looked like it had been carved from granite. Gordon put a reassuring hand on his arm and Bruce looked at him. Gordon looked at him steadily in return and Bruce relaxed perceptibly. Gordon looked back at Maroni. “Now that Bianci’s dead—”
Maroni shrugged, a ‘what can you do?’ gesture. “Before he died Bianci revealed that the assassin has already been paid. He seemed convinced that the contract would be carried out—as a matter of honor, I believe.”
“Why are you really telling me this?”
Maroni smiled wryly. He ducked his head in an acknowledging gesture. “It appears the assassin has been paid to carry out two hits.”
“And you’re the other one.”
“Well, Mr Maroni, thank you for your information,” Gordon said, his tone clearly a dismissal and Maroni nodded and turned away.
Bruce started to say something but the vaguely familiar jazz tune in the background came to a crashing finish and in the lull, a familiar, despised voice could be heard holding forth—
“—in my day faggots wouldn't dare flaunt their perversion in public, not if they knew what was good for them. As for joining the police force, why, I remember one time, back when I was Lieutenant, partners, seemed like good guys, decent arrest records, just goes to show you never can tell. Well, we showed them what happens to queers in the G.C.P.D.—”
The music started up again but Gordon had heard enough. His hand tightened on his glass. O'Dea had lingered in a coma for weeks. King had killed himself, after. Oh, not officially, but what else was it, going into the Narrows alone in uniform. Gordon'd still been new to Gotham, but he'd known what had gone down. Everyone did.
“Jim?” Bruce murmured.
The stem snapped. Gordon stared blankly at the welling droplet of blood from the nick on his finger, mingling with the spilled wine. A waiter materialized and took the broken glass from his hand. Gordon barely noticed.
Bruce's hand covered his. “What is it?”
“I knew them. I should have said something.”
“Why didn't you?” Bruce asked, his tone neutral.
“King had a wife... kids….”
“You were protecting them.”
“If his death had been ruled a suicide....” Gordon shrugged. He couldn’t remember her name now, but the memory of her hopeless expression as she clutched the toddler in her arms, her other children clustered around her, had stayed with him. Without the pension they would have been destitute. He’d kept his mouth shut. They all had.
All the old feelings of helplessness were resurfacing. Gordon clasped Bruce’s hand tightly to stop his own shaking with anger. O’Dea and King hadn’t been the only ones to suffer, though they’d been the most public incident. Anyone suspected of being gay back then hadn’t lasted long on the force, bullied or ostracized into quitting. The fact that organisations like G.O.A.L. existed now was a testament to how much times had changed, but there were still dinosaurs like Munroe around, spreading hate like a disease.
Gordon blinked as Bruce raised their joined hands to his mouth and kissed Gordon’s knuckles. “That guy was responsible?” he murmured, staring into Gordon’s eyes, looking for all the world like he was murmuring endearments.
Gordon looked over at where Munroe and his cronies propped up the bar and deliberately turned his shoulder to them. He shrugged. “We’ll probably never know. There were a group of them, if it wasn’t him that time….” He shrugged.
“It must really stick in his craw that the Commissioner of Police is a faggot, then,” Bruce said, smiling very widely.
“I suppose so,” Gordon said. That actually did make him feel a bit better, thinking about how much Munroe and his cronies must be hating this whole thing.
“They’re staring at us,” Bruce muttered, looking over Gordon’s shoulder. “Want to rub it in even more?” he asked, an expression of pure mischief on his face.
Gordon glanced over his shoulder. Munroe was indeed looking at them, disgust on his lined face. “Hell yes,” he said, and impulsively reached up and slid his free hand behind Bruce’s neck and pulled him into a kiss. He’d only meant it as a press of lips but Bruce’s mouth opened under his on a startled intake of breath and everything changed. For one long moment in time they stood frozen. Bruce’s hand tightened in his. He made a low sound that went straight to Gordon’s groin, and it was this that made Gordon stagger back, shocked at his body’s reaction.
Bruce’s eyes were wide. “I was going to suggest a dance, but that works,” he said, sounding somewhat dazed.
“Ah,” Gordon said, mortified. People were staring at them. He supposed he should be embarrassed about that, but he was looking at Bruce’s face, which for once wasn’t hiding anything. Bruce was smiling an astonished, happy-looking smile and suddenly all Bruce’s flirting, his concern that Gordon feel at home in his penthouse, his invitation to stay as long as he liked, all took on a new meaning. Maybe it wasn’t just concern for Gordon’s safety. He couldn’t believe he hadn’t put it together before. Given the warm feeling in his chest, the leap of excitement shivering along his veins, clearly Bruce wasn’t alone in this… whatever it was.
Now wasn’t time to think about it, though. Most people were turning back to their conversations now. Studiously, he ignored the handful still watching them. “How soon can we blow this joint?” he said, mostly to see Bruce's eyes widen and his lips twitch. “Don't,” he warned.
Bruce looked at him innocently. “Don't what?”
“You mean you weren't going to make some dreadful double entendre involving the word 'blow'?”
Bruce grinned. “Well—”
“Evenin', boss,” Stephens said, at his right, “hope I'm not interrupting?” and Gordon felt his face heat up. He and Bruce had been gazing at each other in a way that, after their display a few moments ago, no doubt looked somewhat besotted. Oh, what the hell, that ship had sailed. “Can I introduce my girlfriend, Charlotte?” Stephens announced, with obvious pride, and Gordon stared in a way that probably wasn't very polite at the woman hanging off Stephens' arm. She looked like some kind of 1940s movie starlet, all slinky dress and wavy hairdo and sultry air and wow, way the fuck out of Stephens' league. She was holding out her hand in a regal manner and Gordon found himself making an awkward bow over it. Then Bruce was lunging into him and he stumbled. There was the zap and crackle of a Taser and Stephens' beautiful girlfriend was on the floor, twitching. People were shouting and crowding closer. Stephens was kneeling by her side. All Gordon could see was the ornate curved dagger near her outstretched hand, beautiful and deadly, gleaming in the light of the chandeliers.
It was nearly dawn by the time they got home, leaving the mop-up in Morten’s hands. A bewildered and distraught Stephens had been questioned, but it was clear to everyone he was just a patsy. Bruce was silent on the way home, staring out of the window of the cruiser, no trace of the playful character Gordon had kissed earlier.
Bruce walked straight over to the drinks cabinet and poured two large whiskies. He picked one up and went out on to the balcony, leaning against the railing with his free hand as he sipped. He hadn’t looked at Gordon once. But there was a glass there for him, and the balcony door was still open, so Gordon picked up his drink and joined Bruce by the railing. The sky was just lightening, the light weak and diffuse behind portentous-looking dark clouds. Even at this time the heat hung heavily in the air. Gordon watched Bruce tug off his bow tie and open his collar, tilting his head from side to side to stretch his neck. Gordon did the same, and impulsively went one further and shrugged off his jacket, juggling it awkwardly with the whisky glass. That seemed to get through to Bruce. His mouth quirked. He slipped off his own jacket much more gracefully and tossed it carelessly on the marble floor, looking at Gordon the whole time. Gordon tossed his own jacket on top of Bruce’s without breaking eye contact.
“So,” Gordon said, and paused expectantly. He supposed they should talk about this latest assassination attempt but all he could think about, here, alone with Bruce, was the kiss they’d shared. Bruce seemed to catch his mood. The tightness eased from around his eyes, and he sipped his whisky, turning so he leaned back against the railing facing Gordon, regarding him challengingly. After a minute, just when Gordon was beginning to wonder if he’d been made a colossal joke of, it dawned on him what Bruce was waiting for.
Him. For whatever reason, Bruce was waiting for him to make the first move. Maybe because Bruce had made all the moves so far, that impulsive kiss notwithstanding. Hell, Bruce wasn’t sure of him at all. He didn’t know about the life-changing revelations Gordon had had only a few hours ago.
He took a gulp of liquid courage and then took Bruce’s glass from his unresisting hand and placed them both against the base of the balcony wall, out of the way. He slid one arm around Bruce’s waist, searching his eyes, which for once weren’t hiding anything. Gordon could see how much Bruce wanted this, could feel that Bruce was holding himself back, letting Gordon set the pace, letting Gordon be sure. And if Gordon had any doubts at all taking this final step, the restraint Bruce was showing, the self-sacrifice in not pursuing what he so obviously wanted would have decided him, because Bruce Wayne had sacrificed so much already, more than anyone should have to, so he kissed Bruce, pushing to make the kiss as meaningful as he knew how. For a moment Bruce was still and Gordon wondered if he’d gotten it wrong, if it had been wishful thinking, but then Bruce seized him by the waist and pulled their bodies tightly together and kissed him back as the first drops of rain began to fall.
By the time they drew apart they were soaked. Gordon barely noticed. Any lingering doubt about whether he would find kissing Bruce arousing had long disappeared. He was rock hard and all he could think about was getting Bruce into a bed, exploring Bruce’s body, making them both come. He was about to say as much when Bruce suddenly went to his knees, sliding down Gordon’s body, so fast it made Gordon wince at the thought of his knees hitting the marble. He looked down at Bruce, but the rain made his glasses a blur. He dragged them off and shoved them blindly in his pocket as he took in the sight of Bruce, his white shirt wet through, nipples dark against the clinging fabric, practically tearing his pants open. Bruce was looking up at him through his eyelashes, the sight hotter than he would ever have imagined. Gordon held his breath as Bruce took his dick into his mouth and sucked. God, Bruce was good at this. It was overwhelming: the expert heat of Bruce’s mouth and hand working him together; the sight of him—God, the sight of him—on his knees in front of Gordon, and the rain beating hotly against Gordon’s back. He wasn’t going to last much longer. But he didn’t want to leave Bruce behind. They were partners, they were in this together. He tugged at Bruce’s hair—he didn’t even remember locking his hands in the wet strands—and Bruce came to his feet in a rush. Bruce took his mouth, kissing him deeply, and Gordon didn’t need to think, didn’t need to do anything except hold on, because somehow Bruce had both of their dicks wrapped in his hand and was jerking them off. Gordon let himself go, his come slicking Bruce’s hand. Bruce groaned against his mouth, his hips jerked against Gordon’s and they clung together as the rain beat down on them.
Gordon woke to an unfamiliar sound. It took him a moment to recognize the sound of rain splashing loudly onto a hard surface close by. He sat up, breathing the cool rain-scented air. Instinct took his hand to the bedside table and it was only after he’d put his glasses on that it occurred to him to be surprised they were there. The sliding doors had been opened all the way and Bruce was standing in the doorway, staring out at the rain, clad only in boxer briefs. Gordon let his eyes wander over Bruce’s muscular form, wondering if this new-found appreciation of the male figure was entirely due to his feelings for Bruce, or if he’d always had this lurking within, wondering if it mattered. He swung his legs over the side of the bed and stopped short as he caught sight of the television flickering silently in the corner. He looked about for a remote.
“Volume,” Bruce said, and suddenly there was Bruce’s voice again:
“It was a present from Commissioner Gordon,” Bruce was saying earnestly to the reporters clustered around him, vying for his attention. “He wanted me to be able to protect myself if I ever got mugged.” He laughed lightly, incredulously, his eyes wide as if still in shock. “I’m still not sure what happened! I guess I must have seen her move and reacted without thinking. I studied karate for a year and a half when I was in college, you know. It’s amazing how it all comes back to you in the heat of the moment.”
“Mute,” Gordon said, experimentally, and the sound obediently cut off. So that’s where Bruce had gotten to while Gordon was working last night. He found a pair of briefs similar to those Bruce was wearing on the end of the bed and drew them on, watching in fascinated horror as the screen changed to pictures of the two of them kissing. Someone last night must have been filming them on their phone. He didn’t know why he was even surprised; in this day and age it was a miracle if something didn’t end up on the internet. He thought about turning the volume on again, and then decided he didn’t want to know what people were saying about them.
“Alfred has an uncanny ability to know exactly when I’ve woken up. If you don’t want him to find you here, you should probably go back to your room.”
Gordon stared at Bruce’s profile, wondering at the distance in Bruce’s voice. “Do you want me to go?” he said, suddenly feeling uneasy.
“No, but I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable here,” Bruce said, still staring out at the rain.
Gordon walked over to join him. “Bruce, everyone in America knows I’m sleeping with you now. At least Alfred approves of me.”
“Sure about that, are you?” Bruce said, visibly relaxing. He smiled at Gordon and slid an arm around his waist. Gordon let Bruce draw him close and tilted his neck obligingly when Bruce leaned down to kiss his neck.
On cue, Alfred entered, wheeling a cart with a large assortment of breakfast dishes and a coffee jug. He smiled indulgently at them. “Good morning Commissioner Gordon, Master Wayne,” he said, as though he did this every day, placing the cart by Bruce’s side of the bed.
“What’s it like out?” Bruce asked him.
“As you’d expect.”
“What’s this?” Gordon asked, determined not to be self-conscious about the fact that he was nearly naked and being cuddled by an equally unclothed Bruce Wayne.
“Paparazzi, sir,” Alfred said, handing Gordon a cup of obviously freshly brewed coffee. Gordon took a grateful sip and casually stepped away from Bruce’s embrace. “I’m afraid we are besieged,” Alfred continued. “I wouldn’t worry about it though; we have enough supplies to last through a nuclear war.”
Gordon’s eyes widened. “Oh, good,” he said faintly.
“He’s joking,” Bruce said, as he took the cup Alfred handed him. “Not about the paparazzi. Or the nuclear war thing. About being trapped here.”
Alfred looked doubtfully at them. “I wouldn’t be so sure. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so many in one place. I think there’s even one from Tuvalu.”
“Isn’t that underwater now?”
“Not yet, sir.”
Gordon stared at them in disbelief. “Slow news day, is it?” he asked weakly.
Alfred gestured at the screen, which had just flashed up a photo of Gordon getting out of the Veyron. He couldn’t even remember which day that had been. “Today, you are the only news anyone’s interested in,” Alfred said wryly.
“It’s gonna take some getting used to, having my love life considered news.”
“Is it too much?” Bruce said, evenly, as though the answer didn’t matter either way, but Gordon could read the anxiety in the eyes that searched his.
“I’m here, aren’t I?” He wasn’t going to admit to the small part of him that was dreading having his privacy stripped away. God, he was going to have to talk to Barbara, sit down with the kids, tell them as much of the truth as he could.
Bruce knew him better than anyone now, though. “You don’t have to be,” he said quietly. “If you want it to all end here, I can still make it all go away.”
“That won’t be necessary,” Gordon said, watching the way Bruce’s shoulders relaxed almost imperceptibly. Good. Nice to know it wasn’t just him that was invested in this relationship. “Just out of curiosity, though, how could you do that?”
Bruce smirked at him. “I have more money than God and I’m the Batman,” he said, all of Bruce Wayne’s smug arrogance in his voice.
“All that and modest too,” Alfred said, from where he had been plumping up the pillows of the bed they’d crashed in after they’d come in from the rain and dried off. Even though nothing had actually happened there, Gordon couldn’t help flushing a little. Alfred was obviously unfazed by his presence in Bruce’s bed, but this was another thing that was going to take Gordon a while to get used to. “If there’s nothing else, sirs?” Alfred asked, eyebrows raised.
“No, thank you,” Bruce said, and Alfred beamed benignly at them both and left.
Gordon watched Bruce wander back to the bed and make himself comfortable against the pillows, pulling the cart closer. “Do you need to go in to work today?”
“No. I’ve made my statement. I.A. is liaising with Mortens. I’m off the case. Too close, obviously. I’ve got the next two days off, unless something else comes up.”
“Well, then,” Bruce said, and patted the empty space next to him.
“You want to go back to bed?”
“I’m already back in bed. I want you to join me.”
“I don’t know, breakfast in bed seems a bit decadent to me,” Gordon said.
“If it makes you feel better, we could skip breakfast,” Bruce purred, and oh God, that bedroom voice of his was so obviously put on, but Gordon’s body didn’t care. Apparently one surprisingly hot gay sexual encounter with Bruce Wayne was all it took to prime his body to anticipate pleasure whenever Bruce made a pass at him. Gordon was half hard already.
“Because having more sex is less decadent?” he said, but it was a token resistance and he knew it and Bruce knew it too, judging by his predatory smile.
“Well, I was planning on both,” Bruce said, “so it depends on how you look at it.”
Gordon got back on to the bed. Bruce leaned over and kissed him. Gordon kissed him back, expecting Bruce to deepen the kiss, expecting to be pulled down into the sheets. He was surprised when Bruce pulled back and leaned their foreheads together for a moment and then drew back, smiling at Gordon. It dawned on him that he hadn’t truly seen Bruce relaxed before, and that it was because of him that Bruce looked so happy.
“It’s really over,” he said, and it was as if a weight he didn’t even know he was carrying was lifted off his shoulders.
“Probably,” Bruce said, and kissed him on the neck.
“I don’t need to stay here anymore.”
Bruce froze. “No,” he agreed tonelessly.
“I should probably start looking for somewhere to live.”
Bruce sat up. “If you like,” he said.
Gordon pretended to think about it. “I don’t want another mortgage right now, too much hassle. I don’t suppose you know someone who has a spare room?”
Bruce smiled slowly. “I might,” he said, and reached out and tangled their fingers together. He hadn’t expected such a romantic gesture from Bruce, but Gordon didn’t mind, he’d always liked the little intimacies of a relationship. He raised Bruce’s hand to his lips and kissed it, suddenly reminded that it was only the night before that Bruce had done the same to him, although that had been for the benefit of their audience. Or had it? Everything Bruce had done looked different in hindsight.
“I can grow my mustache back,” he said, reminded by the feel of Bruce’s skin against his bare upper lip. “I feel naked without it.”
Bruce’s eyes wandered slowly and with deliberation over his body, lingering on the outline of Gordon’s dick against his briefs. “I don’t know,” he leered. “I like you naked.” He tugged on the elastic waistband, looking at Gordon hopefully. Gordon gave a theatrical sigh and lifted his hips, allowing Bruce to slide the briefs off, heat pooling again in his groin as Bruce bent to nuzzle his dick.
Outside, the rain was tapering off, leaving a cool breeze behind.
The heatwave had broken.