Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Bruce/Jim, Pat O’Callahan, Alfred Pennyworth, Lucius Fox
Genres: Angst, Challenge, Drama, Hurt/Comfort
Rating (this chapter): PG-13
Warnings: Aftermath of violence
General Summary: They always thought that it would be Batman, not Bruce, shot down in the streets of Gotham.
Chapter Summary: Bruce’s loved ones wait.
Date Of Completion: June 10, 2009
Date Of Posting: June 12, 2009
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC and Warner Brothers do, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1840
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: It seems that I can’t write Bruce/Jim without it turning into a trilogy! ;) I was starting to revise the second part of my other trilogy, Wings Of Darkness, but this plot bunny has been nibbling incessantly, so I finally gave in. When the Muses talk, I listen! Enjoy! :)
Written for my 2009 DCU Fic/Art Tabloids Challenge. :)
The entire series can be found here.
"YOU HELPED HIM QUITE A BIT THAT NIGHT, YOU KNOW"
Jim couldn’t take his eyes off the beautiful face of his young lover, Bruce so pale now. He kept a firm grip on the cold hand, trying to keep calm as the ambulance raced through the streets of Gotham.
He did look up as the EMT said, “He’ll get the best care, sir.”
The man’s name tag read O’Callahan. “Thank you.”
O’Callahan smiled. He was a man around Jim’s age, ruddy-faced and stocky, but with muscle instead of fat. Ginger hair was beginning to wisp on the top of his head.
He worked efficiently, in contact with the hospital, and kept the I.V. bag going, his hand keeping pressure on the chest wound.
Finally, silence fell inside the ambulance, punctuated only by the siren’s wail.
O’Callahan said softly, “Rich or not, he hasn’t had it easy.”
“No.” Jim tightened his grip. “What happened to him in that alley…it stays with you.”
O’Callahan nodded. Everyone in Gotham knew the details of the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne. It followed Bruce around like a shroud waiting to drape over him, or maybe like dark angel’s wings. Jim knew that he was getting poetic but maybe his Scots/Celtic blood was to blame.
The ambulance arrived at Gotham General Hospital and Jim had to hurry to catch up with the gurney as O’Callahan and his partner rushed their patient inside the Emergency Room. A nurse glanced at Jim and recognized him from earlier visits on business, but he still was not allowed into the trauma area until he used his badge. He wouldn’t get in the way, but he wasn’t waiting outside this cubicle.
And it was bad, Bruce’s expensive shirt and vest torn away and his chest a bloody mess, and there were orders barked and an operating team notified to prep for surgery. The doctors and nurses were efficient and skilled but Jim wanted to scream, his hand unconsciously going to his pants pocket where the bloody handkerchief had been stuffed and clutching it, his whole being focused on his life lying on that cold, steel table.
Then Bruce was being wheeled out and upstairs to Surgery, and Jim followed.
He had no choice.
Where else would he be?
This time he had to sit in the waiting room, all too familiar with the blue leather couch and chairs, cracked at the edges, and the coffee table with magazines that he barely glanced at. A window looked out onto the sunny day, and his heart contracted.
Because, on such a beautiful day, was born such horror.
He couldn’t sit, pacing and clutching the handkerchief still in his pocket, wondering if he should contact Montoya but deciding that she would get in touch with him if he was needed.
Not that he intended to leave this hospital unless every psycho in Arkham broke out.
He stopped pacing abruptly.
He took out his cellphone and called the number at Wayne Manor. The cultured voice answered.
“Alfred, it’s Jim.”
“Oh, good afternoon, sir. Are you enjoying your luncheon with Master Wayne?”
Jim’s stomach sank. So Alfred hadn’t heard the news yet.
“Um…there’s been an incident.” At the sharp intake of breath on the other end of the line, he said, “There was a sniper downtown. Bruce was…shot.”
Silence, then, “Are you in Gotham General?”
“I shall be there as soon as possible.”
Alfred signed off and Jim rubbed his eyes.
Alfred arrived and Jim told him the details, the butler ashen but in control of himself. He sat on the couch and held his bowler hat in his hands, dressed properly, but he had not come as a chauffeur or butler.
He had come as Bruce Wayne’s surrogate father and friend.
Jim appreciated that, knowing how much Bruce and Alfred loved each other, and how much they had gone through together. He sat on the couch next to the butler, remembering that night at the Precinct when he had tried to comfort a shell-shocked child as the Police Department was in an uproar over the murders of the illustrious Waynes.
“You helped him quite a bit that night, you know,” Alfred said softly.
Startled, Jim looked at the Englishman. “How…?”
“Master Bruce spoke of you, years later. He remembered how kind you were to him, and how he felt safe with you, even if you couldn’t stay long.”
“No, I couldn’t.” Regret filled him even now, years after the fact.
“But the time you spent with him helped.”
Alfred sighed as he sat back. “He has survivor’s guilt, you know.”
Jim restlessly pushed the magazines around on the coffee table. “I guessed that. What a terrible thing.”
“He feels it’s his fault.”
Jim nodded. “Children always think they have this god-like power to shape events.”
Alfred shook his head. “It’s not that, exactly. He…the opera was Die Fledermaus, and Master Bruce had fallen into an old cistern a short while before, and a flock of bats had been disturbed and flown out, scaring the young Master. He was scared again by the bats in the opera and asked to leave early.”
“Oh.” Jim felt as if he had been punched in the gut. “My god…”
Alfred nodded. “That guilt was layered over with survivor’s guilt, but it has driven him his whole life.” He sighed again. “He was a good boy, humble and generous. It was rare that he needed to be reminded of humility, for someone raised as the Prince of Gotham.” Alfred flicked imaginary lint off his hat. “He is a good man.”
“You’re good for him.”
Jim looked at Alfred, a small smile curving his lips. “He’s good for me, too.”
Alfred nodded in satisfaction.
Jim leaned back, letting his thoughts tumble as he remembered all the meetings on the GCPD rooftop, the Bat-signal’s beacon burning brightly, the bond between him and the mysterious vigilante as they battled for Gotham’s soul, and how he had come to know Bruce Wayne, curious about the man that little boy had become.
He had been certain that there was something more behind the brainless playboy façade…
“So, Commissioner, enjoying the party?”
“Much better than the last one.”
Bruce Wayne laughed. “Yes, a party crashed by the Penguin is not amusing. Though I prefer his larceny to the Joker’s madness.”
“Amen to that.” Jim looked at the champagne glass in Bruce’s hand, the thousand-dollar suit crisp and tailored to fit an athletic body. “You’ve been busy lately.”
Bruce laughed again but the light didn’t reach his eyes. “Oh, you know, a club here, a party there…”
Jim sipped his own champagne. “Would you like to have lunch tomorrow?”
Dark hazel eyes looked at him in surprise. “I…”
“We need to discuss that Wayne Foundation grant to the Department.”
Was that disappointment?
“Can you recommend a good place that I can put on my expense account?” Jim’s eyes sparkled.
Bruce smiled. “Yes, I can, in fact.”
Jim felt the happy memory of that lunch wash over him…
“You like Italian?”
“Very much.” Jim perused the menu. “Mmm, the lobster and linguini sounds very good.”
“It is.” Bruce signaled the waiter. “We’ll have the lobster and linguini, and more of this wonderful garlic bread, please.”
“Of course, Mr. Wayne.”
“More garlic bread?” Jim asked, amused.
“I have a craving for it.” Bruce smiled charmingly.
“Do you often have…cravings?”
Bruce’s eyes widened slightly. “Appetites can be a good thing.”
Jim nearly laughed. He hadn’t intended to get so suggestive so quickly, but the sexual aura around Bruce Wayne had utterly captivated him. In fact, he had been surprised at his boldness, merely intending to learn more about the Prince of Gotham, but it had gone well. Bruce had been pleased at his interest, and they had gone on several more dates before getting down to business…
Jim laughed. “An Irish pub?”
Bruce winked. “Going back to our roots.” He ordered two pints of Guinness and leaned back lazily in his chair. The dark wood of the booths and the sepia-toned photographs on the walls went well with the enormous bar and the dartboard over in the corner, a match going on between two men, their supporters cheering them on.
“Shouldn’t we also have bagpipes?”
“Well, even Irish food is better than Scottish haggis.”
Jim laughed. “True. I guess we’d better go with our Irish lineages over Scottish for this situation.”
Bruce’s eyes sparkled. He was wearing an open-necked white shirt and black sport jacket and pants, very casual for him. Jim had tossed on jeans and a light-blue shirt, scuffed sneakers comfortable. He glanced down at Bruce’s footwear.
“You still can’t help yourself, can you?”
Bruce winked. “A man should always have class.”
“Hmph.” Jim knew he was being teased and picked up a handful of peanuts from the bowl on the table. “I didn’t know that I had to dress up for Irish soda bread and Guinness.”
Bruce laughed and the waitress brought over the pints.
They talked of inconsequential things, comfortable in each other’s presence, and then Jim felt a Gucci loafer stroking his ankle, sliding up his calf. He smiled into his beer and looked over at Bruce, whose smile was seductive but happy.
They left the pub.
Jim took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose.
Lucius Fox entered the room quickly, the two men embracing, and he shook hands with Jim.
Alfred shook his head.
“I got here as quickly as I could. Needless to say, I had to put out some fires and try and get a press release written, though of course there wasn’t much to say. People don’t think Bruce runs Wayne Enterprises but they like the stability he’s given it as successor to his father.”
Lucius perched on a chair closest to the couch and looked at Alfred worriedly. The butler patted his old friend’s knee and said, “Master Bruce is strong. He will pull through this.”
Lucius looked at Jim. Of course Alfred had known about him and Bruce right away, and Lucius hadn’t taken much longer to figure it out. Bruce had clever men around him, and Jim was immensely proud to be counted among that circle.
“We got the sniper.”
Lucius’ eyes flickered over the blood on Jim’s suit but he said, “That’s good. Did he give a motive?”
“I don’t know.” He felt slightly guilty about neglecting his duties but he also had a duty here. Gotham had taken so much from him.
Please don’t take Bruce away from me, too.
A doctor in blue scrubs suddenly appeared in the doorway, and all three men stood, Alfred closing his fingers around Jim’s arm.