Pairings/Characters: Bruce/Jim, Rosie Pulaski, Charlie Andrews
Genres: Fluff, Slice-Of-Life
Summary: Diners mean good food and good company.
Date Of Completion: July 24, 2009
Date Of Posting: July 24, 2009
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC and Warner Brothers do, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1793
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: Happy birthday, hitokaji! :)
Jim scrunched into the booth and relaxed, keeping his trenchcoat on. It was raw and cold this morning, the sun just starting to peek over the horizon. He ran a hand through his ginger hair and smiled at the waitress who approached his table. She had red hair and wore a pink uniform with white trim on the short sleeves and collar, and a frilly white cap that bobbed as she moved. She was slightly plump but wore a cheerful smile at this ungodly hour.
“Hold off on that. I’m waiting for someone.”
She nodded and went to get the coffee.
The diner was chrome and red leather for both booths and the seats at the counter. Freshly-baked pies were kept under plastic see-through covers on the counter, and each booth had a small music selection machine that would play softly for a quarter a song. It was held over from the ‘60s and Jim loved to look at the ancient selection of songs.
It was the kind of place that had once seen poodle skirts and ponytails, crewcuts and leather jackets. The kitchen could be seen through the wide aperture behind the counter, and the owner and chief cook and bottlewasher, Charlie Andrews, was already busy with orders, his round face concentrating as he cooked. Men in the construction business were at the counter drinking coffee and ready for a hearty breakfast to hold them through a hard day’s work.
An elderly couple sat in a booth, enjoying the nostalgia, and a faded woman sat a few booths over, looking tired. Her cheap coat covered what looked like a hooker’s outfit, but Jim gave her a pass. She deserved to eat her breakfast in peace.
The Bluebird Diner was an old staple of Gotham since 1906 when the Worcester Lunch Car Company had delivered it to this very spot by the railyards. The neighborhood surrounding it was made of old warehouses and factories, and only a steady police presence kept it from deteriorating into a crime-ridden one. Nearby was the site of the warehouse fire years ago that had claimed the lives of six firefighters, an event that still hurt.
Rosie brought his coffee in a thick white mug and Jim sipped it, appreciating the strong flavor. He watched the occasional passerby and car, streaks of lemon, rose, and orange beginning to thread through blue-tinged clouds.
One of the passersby stopped and entered the diner, the little bell jingling above the door. Rosie turned on the radio behind the counter and a Glenn Miller tune played on the local jazz-and-swing station.
The newcomer was wearing a shabby coat over a blue flannel shirt and jeans. He could have been one of the construction workers, his feet shod in workboots and his face shadowed by an old battered fedora. Jim raised his hand slightly and smiled.
The newcomer came over to the booth and slid in. “’Mornin’, Jim.”
“Good morning, Bruce.” Jim spoke very softly, glad that the radio’s music was making it difficult for anyone to overhear them.
Bruce smiled as he pushed the fedora back. His dark eyes twinkled as he rubbed a stubbled chin. “Nice place.”
“It’s got character and good food.”
Bruce chuckled, quickly lowering his hat as Rosie approached. “Can I get you coffee, sir?”
“Yes, please.” His voice was a bit rough, nothing like socialite Bruce Wayne.
Rosie placed a plastic menu in front of him and poured him a mug that she had brought over. “Cream or sugar?”
“Black’s fine.” He opened the menu. “What’s good here?”
“Well, the Commish here has the scrambled eggs with crushed red pepper, turkey sausages, and toast. He likes it fine.”
“I do.” Jim sipped his coffee.
“Sounds good, and add some bacon, please.”
She took the menu and went to give in the orders.
Bruce slumped slightly, stretching his legs out under the table and removing his hat, running a hand through shaggy dark hair. “So this is how the other half lives,” he teased.
“That’s right,” Jim said, smiling as he took another sip of coffee.
Bruce’s smile was beautiful. Jim loved to see it.
Bruce rubbed his eyes.
“Yeah.” He closed his eyes. “I hung out at the docks for most of it.”
“Nothing yet. Zucco’s clever. He knows the thefts from the Storrow Company’s warehouse have started to attract attention, so he’s laying low.”
“Mmm.” Jim set his mug down. “Enough shop talk.” He rubbed his shoe against Bruce’s calf. “God, you look gorgeous in tight jeans.” He loved Bruce in Armani suits, and now knowing how much substance was underneath the playboy façade, enjoyed the prettiness, but the working-class look was a good one on his young lover.
Bruce chuckled, opening his eyes slightly. The half-lidded look made Jim think of the afterglow of sex.
Their relationship was still a secret from everyone but Alfred and probably Montoya. That woman knew everything. The only way they could keep it a secret for the time being was to meet in secret, or openly as long as at least one of them was disguised.
Well, the Bat is good at disguises.
Jim had suggested the diner. This early in the morning they would be unlikely to run into any paparazzi.
Spending time together like an ordinary couple was a precious thing. Bruce straightened up as Rosie brought their meals.
The smell of freshly-cooked eggs and sausage was mouth-watering, and Jim dug in. Bruce took a bite of egg and his eyes lit up. “Mmm, the red pepper really adds something to it!”
“You should tell Alfred.”
Bruce took a bite of bacon and crunched noisily. “I think I will. I’m allowed to make suggestions, just not to actually cook.”
Jim grinned. “Not much in the kitchen, eh?”
“A disaster,” Bruce said ruefully.
Jim laughed. He took a bite of juicy sausage and said, “Remind me to keep you out of the kitchen. Unless I have you bent over the table,” he added so low that only Bruce could hear him.
Bruce’s eyes sparkled and he crunched more bacon. “You like things spicy?”
Jim was glad to see his lover in such a good mood, though there were circles under his eyes. He lived a fast life, trying to keep up as Bruce Wayne during the day at Wayne Enterprises and with parties, balls, and charity events at night, and patrolling as Batman.
Jim always worried about Bruce out there alone on the streets. Sure, he had excellent back-up in Alfred and Lucius and even himself, who could be with him at times, but not all the time. He was afraid that Bruce would burn out quickly with this dangerous double life, or a stray bullet or lucky shot end it all in some dirty alley, with no there to help.
He took a sip of coffee and resolved to enjoy the rest of their breakfast together while ‘40s music played in the background.
They spoke of incidental things, Bruce’s appetite ravenous. Jim liked seeing him so relaxed. The radio blared an ad: “Come one, come all, fun for the whole family! Elephants, clowns, the daring trapeze artists…!”
“Nice name for the place,” Bruce said. “Is it the Bluebird of Happiness?”
Jim laughed. “Probably because the place opens real early, and birds are up early.” He ate his last bite of sausage. “Birds bring happiness, right?”
“You mean as opposed to bats?”
Jim smirked. “Birds sing and fly around, and bats hang around in the gloom.”
“Ha, ha.” Bruce speared a piece of sausage. “Well, it is the first day of spring. The robins should be flying around.” As if on cue, a red-breasted bird flew by the window. “See?”
When Bruce finished his breakfast, he called Rosie over.
“How’s the pie here?”
Bruce gave her a dazzling smile. “Lemon, please.”
She nodded. “Commish?”
“What the hell? Cherry.”
“You got it.” She winked at Jim and tapped Bruce’s arm. “Keep this one, Jimbo.”
Jim grinned at Bruce’s blush as Rosie laughed and went to get the pie.
He finished his coffee while Bruce smiled at him. This time it was Bruce who played footsie under the table, Jim hiding his smile behind his mug.
Rosie brought the slices of pie and Bruce took a bite, his eyes widening slightly. “Excellent!”
She laughed. “Charlie’s mom will be glad to hear that. She makes all our pies.”
“She’s a wonder.”
Rosie laughed again. “I’ll pass along your compliments.”
Bruce eagerly devoured the pie, Jim watching in amusement as he ate his own at a more sedate pace.
“You being disloyal to Alfred?”
Bruce snickered. “If Alfred ate this pie, he’d be disloyal, too.”
Jim couldn’t blame him. His cherry pie had a flaky crust that melted in his mouth, and the cherries were sweet and juicy. He knew that the lemon had just the right amount of tartness.
He enjoyed the blissful look on Bruce’s face.
You’re a lucky bastard, Gordon.
Very lucky. After his divorce from Barbara and his kids going with her back home to Boston, he missed having kids around and rattling around an empty house. Bruce had come along at just the right time to fill his empty days.
“You know, Zucco’s got his fingers in every pie around here,” Bruce commented, waving his fork.
“I overheard some things while on the docks last night. He has a pretty good protection racket going on with the local merchants. And one of the stevedores thought that he might even be shaking down that circus that just set up their tents outside of Gotham.”
“Wow, that’s greedy. That circus isn’t one of the big ones, just a mom-and-pop. Or Pop Haly, anyway.”
Bruce swallowed another bite of pie. “I think I’ll go check things out tonight at the performance. Drift around, see what I can hear.”
“Good idea.” Jim looked regretfully at his watch. “And now I have to go into the office.” He stood, leaving payment for both meals and a generous tip for Rosie. He put his hand on Bruce’s shoulder. “Will I see you tonight?”
Bruce patted his hand with a smile. “Right after the show.”
Jim squeezed his shoulder and walked out, calling out goodbyes to Rosie and Charlie.
He turned up his collar as the sun’s rays created bright patterns on the brick walls of the warehouses, and bounced off the chrome of The Bluebird Diner.
It promised to be a bright day, and who knew what the evening would bring?
He headed for his car as Bruce happily finished his lemon pie in the diner.
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