Bruce hadn't expected to spent so long in Jeremiah's office, examining the sketches of buildings and regionalism designs and the maps of local construction zones. In a way, it's like they are searching for what makes Gotham tick — every structure, every inner-working mechanism.
No doubt that Jeremiah has a brilliant mind, but he gets disheartened and frustrated easily, faintly scowling at a problem not resolved when necessary. There's a low, razor-edge to his voice during phone calls, and sometimes Jeremiah has more than one glass of scotch while Bruce visits, frantically gesturing for his portfolio for Bruce to pass over with his lips plastered to the smudged, clear rim.
This time, Bruce doesn't see the decanter or a lowball glass in Jeremiah's office. The other man paces, mumbling to himself as if distracted, smoothing a palm over his tailored navy two-piece. There's a bold pink undershirt and a simple, silken navy tie tucked beneath Jeremiah's coat.
Bruce remains near the table's edge, in his own cream-colored knitted jumper and brown blazer, folding his hands. He doesn't speak up at first, glancing over the rolls of architectural illustrations and witnessing in the corner of his eye as Jeremiah slips off his glasses. He goes quiet and rubs his eyes with the heel of his hand, as if focusing his sight has become troublesome.
"Shouldn't the primary energy conductor be relocated if you are using this blueprint?"
With a light tap of his finger, Bruce indicates the specific area.
Jeremiah's expression then relaxes into a half-smile, as he peers down and chuckles, tilting his head. "Well, I guess it's safe to say you're catching on rather quickly…" Jeremiah says, meeting their gazes.
Bruce's own mouth twitches, softening. "I've learned a lot spending time with you, Jeremiah."
He doesn't mean to sound so open-hearted, and Jeremiah looks down again, fumbling with his pen nervously. "That's, um…" he murmurs, seemingly embarrassed. "I'm relieved to hear that from you."
"… Do you know the old Mediterranean diner still open near Robertson Plaza?"
"Of course," Jeremiah replies, furrowing his brows.
Bruce straightens up, maintaining firm eye-contact despite the other man ignoring it. "If we get a cab now, we'll stand a honest chance in beating the evening rush," he announces, coming around the table. "I heard they've finally kept their word about getting a new frozen yogurt machine."
As Bruce draws nearer, Jeremiah's shoulders tense up and he frowns, muttering, "I don't know…"
It's an excuse — a poor one, if truth to be told. He understands that Jeremiah still fears his brother's return, in some small and impossible way. There's no fighting that. The other man gathers up his sketches and papers hurriedly, attempting to step around Bruce, and hesitates when Bruce's hand grips lightly onto the joint of his elbow, stopping him abruptly in his tracks.
The bob of Jeremiah's apple clenches and shifts. He glances back up at Bruce's eyes, somewhere between a good-natured irritation and awe. "You've been at this for fourteen hours, if not more," Bruce insists, his mouth curling into a genuine, widening smile. "Take a break. Let's go."
Bruce's hand loosens, until Jeremiah pulls away and sets down his own things. "I didn't know you were the bossy type, Wayne," Jeremiah says amused, cocking an eyebrow. "That's good…"
It takes a heart-stoppingly long moment for Bruce to realize what was said and for Jeremiah to go immediately flustered by his own words, babbling and open-mouthed and turning red. "G-good to know… uh, it's not… bad…" He winces as the sentence fails to lead anywhere, dragging a hand over his face and rushing for the maze's entrance, grabbing onto his wallet.
Bruce stares after Jeremiah disappearing, inhaling and mentally steeling himself.
It's worth a try.
Most of the cab-ride follows silence, though slowly becoming familiar and comfortable. Jeremiah pays before Bruce can, and they walk side-by-side down an empty, grey stretch of road.
In the distance, a colorful ensemble of people yell and throw up their arms, waving rainbow flags.
Bruce vaguely remembers Alfred's newspaper mentioning a "pride parade" blocking off a quad of Gotham's main streets and businesses. He senses Jeremiah falling far away from him.
"Ah, I didn't realize…"
"It'll be a shortcut if we go left," Bruce tells him offhandedly, going ahead. When his companion doesn't move from the gutter, he quickly peers over his shoulder, frowning. "Jeremiah?"
The way Jeremiah stares at the crowd feels like a grim and yet wistful bitterness. "My adoptive parents were very staunchly against… this." Jeremiah nods idly towards the couples kissing each other and rainbow-themed outfits and posters and streamers. "All of this."
"Considering their son vastly preferred men over women, I would say so," Jeremiah says lowly, bitingly, and then gazes to the other man apologetically. "I'm sorry, Bruce—I shouldn't have—"
Bruce shakes his head, resting his hands into his blazer's pockets. "Did you think I had a problem with that?" he asks, and by Jeremiah's lack of response, Bruce supposes a maybe.
No… no, being gay is a natural circumstance. It's no more a choice than having dark hair and dark eyes. Even Alfred told him about the importance of equal rights during his homeschooling. Nobody should ever be treated ill for it. "I'm not sure where my interests lie…" Bruce finds himself confessing this private thought, shrugging. "I've tried researching a lack of attraction to other people… but, it only became more confusing to me. Asexuality, demisexuality, or being caught in a gray area—"
A person with a gaudy, fake rainbow-beard collides into Bruce's side harshly, running after their friends. "My bad, dude!" they scream out with a dimpled grin, waving in Bruce's direction, their tri-colored blue and purple and pink suspenders unbuckled and flying out behind them.
"Let's go," Jeremiah repeats, joining Bruce in the road with his chin bravely raised and walking towards the densely populated, gleeful crowd. For some reason, they don't end up turning left.
Bruce feels himself magnetized to the high, roaring energy, to his fellow Gothamites laughing and sobbing and hugging each other, celebrating themselves and strangers nearest them. Marchers overtake them, hoisting up a gigantic, towering rainbow flag and drowning out the sunlight.
He's cascaded into the hue of their pride, memorized and speechless, outstretching his fingers without thinking about it. Hands — black, brown, rosy, pale, every kind — do the same.
This is my city.
This is why Bruce will devote his whole life to protecting the weaker, the ones who need it.
Due to the sheer amount of customers, he and Jeremiah end up waiting patiently in the front of the diner, surrounded by other parade-goes chatting excitedly amongst their friends.
Bruce's thumb presses over a rounded, shiny button he discovered on the ground — its pride colors unmarred. He eyes Jeremiah grimacing and edging away from two teenage girls doing selfies, nudging him with his wrist. "Here," Bruce whispers, passing the button carefully to his friend.
Jeremiah blinks in puzzlement, gazing down at the item, and then at a faintly smiling Bruce next to him on the heavily cushioned, maroon bench. For just a moment, he flushes, somewhat shyly smiling in return.
"… Thank you, Bruce."
Gotham isn't mine. I got really emotional over this fic. Not gonna lie. I got just as emotional over the fic I did with Supergirl being a speaker at a Pride event in her rainbow undertoned cape and coming out as bisexual publicly, and this topic means so much to me as someone who is gay. Especially in Pride Month. I hope anyone reading enjoys this fic, and any comments/thoughts are deeply appreciated! I'd love to hear from those of us in the LGBT+ community as well!
This was for the "Pride/LGBT+" prompt for Week 3 of Summer of Gotham on Tumblr!