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Different World

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Tim stared at the transparent door in front of him, and then up at the store sign.

 

“Why did you bring me to a drugstore?” He asked, shifting his gaze to Jason beside him.

“I need your recommendation,” Jason murmured, but he knew Tim would catch his answer.

“On what?”

“Let’s just get in first.”

 

Jason pushed the door open, letting Tim enter the store ahead of him. As he followed and the door swung closed behind him, he watched as the teen turn around and threw him a questioning look.

 

“Scent patch. Top quality,” Jason said before Tim could ask him about what he was looking for.

 

Tim narrowed his eyes, but he didn’t comment. Instead, he led Jason to a specific isle, as if he owned the drugstore.

 

“Been here often?”

“Not really. I just know where to look. Hm, how about this one?”

 

Tim picked up a box and handed it to Jason.

 

“Has Bruce tried this one before?”

“Not that I know of. I think he prefers the expensive kind.”

“Well then, give me that instead. Money is not the problem.”

“Sure,” Tim shrugged as he took the box from Jason’s hand and put it back on the shelf. He rummaged a few times more with Jason waiting beside him.

“Found it yet?”

“Here.”

 

Jason read the description after accepting another box from Tim.

 

“Manufactured by Mevius Corp.. Sounds familiar.”

“Wayne Enterprises has been funding it for years. In fact, Bruce is one of the shareholders,” Tim explained.

“It should work, right? Given how expensive it is.”

“Never heard Bruce complain about it before.”

“I’m buying it.”

“But why?”

“What do you mean ‘why’?”

“Why are you buying it? You’re not the type to wear a scent patch.”

“Doesn’t mean I don’t need it.”

 

Jason turned to purchase the item when Tim’s question made him stop.

 

“Have you… found an Omega to… be bonded with?”

“What? No! I hate Omegas.”

“Including Dick?”

“Dick is… an exception. Maybe.”

 

Tim looked relieved. Although Jason wasn’t sure if it was because he found that Jason was not seeing any Omega or because he didn’t hate Dick. Either way, Jason was not in the mood to discuss it further. He walked to the cashier, Tim in tow.

 

The girl behind the counter asked Jason a few questions; mainly about his eligibility to purchase the item. During the process though, Tim had somehow wandered toward the products on display. When Jason appeared behind him after finishing the purchase, he saw Tim holding a bottle of heat suppressant.

 

“Thinking to buy it for Dick?”

“No.”

“No?” Jason repeated.

“This thing is also manufactured by Mevius Corp., and yes, Dick has been consuming it for years. Bruce and Alfred had been providing him. I know because he asked me to get it for him the other night. This is exactly the same brand.”

 

Jason crossed his arms over his chest, “But…?”

 

Tim put the bottle back. Then unexpectedly, he dragged Jason outside. He was not stopping until they reached Jason’s motorbike.

 

“I can’t risk speaking any further about this here. Mevius Corp.’s medications are not available in your typical drugstores. If this one can sell them, then that means it is one of their branch stores.”

 

For a few seconds, Jason stared at the teen’s face. Then, he grabbed one of his helmets and handed it to Tim.

 

“Hop on. We’re going back to Wayne Manor.”

 

Without question, Tim did as he was told. He deliberately put his arms around Jason’s torso, but the latter didn’t comment on it. If anything, Jason only picked up the speed until Tim had no choice but to hold him tighter.

 

------

 

Dick was just about to mount his motorbike when he saw a commotion across the road. He put his helmet back and crossed the road. When he got near, he heard one of the gathering men shout.

 

“She’s an Omega! She’s an Omega in heat!”

 

Dick was alerted and he shortened the distance, half-running. The other man was grabbing the woman’s arm.

 

“Let go of me!” The woman screamed, panting heavily and almost falling to the pavement again.

“Hey!” Dick shouted, “Hey, back off!”

 

Standing between the woman and the men, Dick tried to shield her. These men were Alphas; Dick could tell from how agitated they had become because of the female Omega.

 

“Now, who are you?” Asked the previously shouting Alpha.

“Doesn’t matter who I am, but I need you guys to stay away from her.”

“She’s the one who goes outside while in heat, seducing us!”

 

Distracted by the whimpers coming from woman, Dick didn’t see it coming when one of the Alphas lunged forward to him. He was attempting to shove Dick out of his sight, but Dick quickly caught his arm and flipped him. The Alpha groaned in pain, while the others stared at him with wide eyes. Dick figured now that these men weren’t actually bad guys. They were just influenced by the Omega’s scent and acting solely by instinct.

 

“Please, leave. Before I call the authorities.” Dick warned.

 

They glanced at each other. One of them gritted his teeth in annoyance before he bent down to help the fallen Alpha stand again and then they all left. Dick turned around to face the woman. She was sweating all over her body and clinging to Dick’s arms desperately. Before Dick could speak, someone exited the café and ran toward them. She was the waitress who had taken Dick’s order earlier that day.

 

“Mister…?”

“Grayson.”

“Mr. Grayson, we have an emergency bunker in our building. Let’s bring this woman there.”

 

Dick eyed the waitress as she hauled the whimpering woman. As if sensing his stare, the waitress spoke again.

 

“I’m sorry. We were all watching what happened from inside the café. I’m sorry we didn’t act sooner.”

“It’s okay,” replied Dick, easily lifting the Omega off her feet and carried her carefully, “Show me the way.”

 

The waitress nodded and led Dick to the emergency bunker. Dick wasn’t surprised; most public places had emergency bunkers in their buildings for Omegas who suddenly went into heat when they were outside. This café was one of those.

 

Ignoring the other patrons’ curious gazes, Dick kept following the waitress to the basement. They arrived in front of a steel door and the waitress punched in the code before the door opened for them. The waitress entered first, Dick following behind her and he felt the woman cling to him tighter.

 

“Lay her down,” said the waitress, motioning to the mattress.

 

Putting the Omega on the mattress gently, Dick then pulled back.

 

“Mr. Grayson, she’ll be okay for a while here. Is she by any chance your acquaintance?”

“No.”

“Okay… We’ll try to contact her family after she… calms down. For now, I think we should leave her alone.”

 

Dick nodded. He watched as the waitress closed the steel door and locked it by entering a code again. This emergency bunker looked very similar to the one he had back in Blüdhaven. It was not uncommon that some buildings would provide high security for the Omegas’ safety. With that in mind, Dick believed that the woman would indeed be okay just like the waitress said.

 

“I can’t stay long,” Dick said suddenly, startling the waitress, “but if anything happens, please give me a call.”

 

Perplexed, the waitress accepted a name card that Dick had offered to her. He left before she could say anything in response.

 

------

 

Alfred was mildly surprised when he opened the front door, only to reveal Tim and Jason.

 

“Master Jason, you’ve been visiting a lot lately,” the butler said, allowing them to come in.

“Only twice,” Jason replied, wincing when Tim brushed past him.

“Come to my room.”

“Now, what are the both of you up to? I hope it’s not something mischievous,” Alfred commented as Jason followed Tim.

 

Tim laughed, “Of course not, Alfred. How old do you think we are?”

 

It was a rhetorical question and Alfred decided not to pry. When they arrived in front of Tim’s bedroom, Jason peeked downstairs over the railing and saw that the old man was nowhere in sight.

 

“Come in,” Tim said to him, holding the door open.

 

Jason complied, stepping inside and hearing the teen close the door behind him again. Tim tossed his backpack to the bed and sat on it.

 

“Just sit wherever.”

 

Jason pulled Tim’s chair and took a seat, facing his little brother. He crossed his arms over his chest.

 

“Spill,” he said to Tim.

“I think Dick’s in trouble.”

 

Jason raised an eyebrow.

 

“How does this have anything to do with Dick? I thought you were going to tell me something about the M Corp..”

“Well, he is consuming heat suppressant manufactured by this corporation, which is funded by WE, and from what I’ve seen the other night, it doesn’t make him better.”

“You said Bruce is a consumer of their products, too. So why does it only affect Dick and not Bruce?”

“Good question.”

 

Tim stood up and began pacing back and forth in the middle of the room.

 

“Why is it only Dick indeed?” Tim repeated the question and then suddenly turned to look Jason in the eyes.

“What?”

“I’m going to tell you something but I need you to keep this information to yourself.”

 

Jason rolled his eyes, but he nodded.

 

“So, this morning… I heard Alfred talking to Bruce. It’s about Dick’s medication.”

“Go on.”

“Alfred admitted to Bruce he took Dick’s pill without permission and had it checked. He also mentioned Dr. Thompkins. Anyway, the lab result said the pill might have been tampered with. And I think the correct question should be: Why does it only affect Omegas?.”

“Is it dangerous?”

“It’s still unknown, I guess. Alfred did mention something about addiction, but I think there’s more to it.”

“You think Mevius Corp. is behind this,” Jason stated.

 

Tim nodded.

 

“I’m going to investigate it.”

“Should you? Timmy, this has nothing to do with you.”

“Dick is our brother! Our family! If he’s in danger, I’ll help him! And so will you!”

“Okay, now you make it sound like I’m a jerk here. But I know Dick and he must not want you to get involved.”

“Why?”

“Because it will put you in danger too!”

“If it’s threatening Omegas, then there’s no reason for me to be worried.”

 

Jason scoffed, “You don’t know that.”

 

“True. That’s why I’m going to find out.”

 

Jason knew that there was no stopping Tim. He laughed in his mind. If only he knew that Dick had personally asked for Jason’s assistance instead of his, Tim might be beyond mad. But Jason was not going to tell Tim that. He was not going to break Dick’s trust. Besides, if not involving Tim in this case put the teen in a safe place, then that was all the better. There was no need for Batman to lose yet another Robin.

 

“... … infiltrate Mevius Corp.,” Tim said, interrupting Jason’s train of thought.

 

It caught the older guy’s attention. Jason suddenly stood up, eye-to-eye with Tim.

 

“No.” He said firmly.

“I wasn’t asking for permission.”

“I said, no.”

“Jason, you’re not Batman! You don’t get to choose what’s good or bad for me!”

 

Tim wasn’t usually short-tempered like this. Hell, even Jason was more composed than he was now. But it was about Dick and Tim just knew that he had to do something. The teen sat himself on the bed again.

 

“Look, if it makes you feel better, I guess you can help by searching more about Mevius Corp.. For now, at least.” Jason bargained.

“I already did at school actually.”

“And?”

“They held a gala to celebrate the first release of their products. It was ten years ago. Bruce was invited as an honorable guest and he brought Dick as his plus-one.”

“Ten years ago? Dick was still a Robin then.”

“Yes.”

“Proceed.”

“From what I found, the M Corp had a different CEO then. But two years ago, that position was assigned to his only heir.”

“Give me a name.”

“Sanders Jonah Edenbrook.”

 

Jason nodded. Then, he walked to the door and left. Tim looked dumbfounded at his sudden departure. Running to the door, Tim found that Jason was already descending the staircase.

 

“I’m not finished!”

“Keep searching. I’ll call you later.”

 

Sighing, Tim went back inside.

 

------

 

Dick pressed a button and the elevator closed, bringing him to the top floor of Wayne Enterprises building. He had promised Bruce in the morning that he would find the older man for a talk. He thought this was as good a time as any. Before long, he had arrived at his destination floor. He stepped out of the elevator and approached the secretary’s desk. The woman was taking a phone call when Dick halted in front of her. She held up a hand as a sign for Dick to wait. Once she finished the phone call, she looked at Dick with a smile.

 

“Can I help you, Sir?”

“Please tell Mr. Wayne his son is here.”

“I’m sorry, Sir. But Mr. Wayne is in a meeting right now.”

“Will it take long?”

 

The secretary checked her wristwatch, “Well, I think Mr. Edenbrook has been inside for about half an hour. The meeting might end soon.”

 

“I’ll wait.”

 

Dick sat on the couch before the secretary told him to. His mind was too occupied now. When the woman mentioned the name, it rang a bell but he couldn’t yet remember where he had heard that name before. He fished out his mobile phone, unlocked it, and started looking up the name. But before he could read the results, the door to Bruce’s office was opened from the inside and a bespectacled man donned in two-piece suit came out. Dick looked up and his eyes met the man’s. For a second, Dick felt a sense of familiarity toward him. He instinctively stood up from the couch when the man walked approaching him.

 

“Richard. You’re Richard Grayson, aren’t you?” Asked the man.

 

Dick never expected that the man knew him, let alone would address him with his real name. Confusion might be written on his forehead because the man then laughed and apologized.

 

“I guess you must have forgotten,” he added, “I’m Sanders. Sanders Edenbrook. We met at the gala that my father held ten years ago. Remember me?”

 

Dick remembered now. This man was the college student who found him sneaking out to the balcony when he got bored at the aforementioned gala. Dick smiled at Sanders.

 

“You lent me your handheld game console back then. Who brought such thing to a gala, anyway?”

 

Sanders returned the smile.

 

“I just figured that some philanthropist would bring their kids along and they might become bored. I was right, wasn’t I?”

 

They both laughed.

 

“You’ve changed. I almost didn’t recognize you,” said Dick again.

“So have you. You’ve grown, Richard. Into a handsome mature man, nonetheless. Mr. Wayne must be so proud. And he’s lucky to have such a perfect Alpha heir like you.”

 

Dick flinched a bit. Nobody outside the Bat Family knew that he had actually presented as an Omega when he was sixteen. And when he and Sanders met at the gala ten years ago, it was months before he discovered the truth about his secondary gender. He remembered how nearly everyone at the gala came up to Bruce and him and said the same thing that Sanders did. He also remembered how his heart had swollen with pride at the thought of himself presenting as an Alpha and making his adoptive father proud of him. How naïve he had been.

 

Dick cleared his throat. If Sanders noticed his short pause, he didn’t mention it.

 

“Please, just call me Dick. We didn’t get to keep in touch after that night, and I had completely forgotten to tell you that everyone calls me Dick.”

“Dick, huh? That sounds simpler indeed. So Dick, are you here to meet Mr. Wayne?”

“Yes, actually. But I see he was in an important meeting with you.”

“Oh, not that important. I just stopped by to say hello.”

 

The secretary interrupted their conversation, “Excuse me, Sir. But Mr. Wayne is ready for you now.”

 

Sanders smiled again.

 

“I guess that’s my cue. Oh, how about you and I have dinner tonight? I’d love to catch up with you.”

“That… sounds nice, but…”

“It’s okay if you can’t.”

“Maybe next time?”

“Sure! You know where to find me.”

 

Sanders took out his name card and handed it to Dick, which the latter accepted with a smile.

 

“Well, it’s a pleasure to meet you again after so long, Dick.”

“Likewise.”

 

The older man nodded at Dick before he turned to leave. Dick waited until he got into the elevator and saw Sanders waving at him before the elevator door closed. Then, he entered Bruce’s office, not forgetting to knock beforehand.

 

Inside, Bruce was already waiting for him. He stood facing the glass wall but turned around when he heard Dick close the door again.

 

“Dick, what brought you here?”

“You said you wanted to talk.”

“Oh. Yes, I did. But I thought you’re busy. It can wait.”

“So you want me to leave now?”

“No. Stay.”

 

If it was anyone else, Dick would not like it that he was practically ordered to stay, instead of being asked to. But it was Bruce and the man just had that dominating effect on people, especially on him; that dominating effect that—Dick being an Omega—just felt like he would obey what Bruce would want him to do but not with anyone else.

 

Dick walked toward him as Bruce sat down on the L-shaped couch that had been placed against the left side wall of the spacious office.

 

“Sit down,” said Bruce when Dick just chose to stand.

 

Dick began to think that maybe it was a bad idea to meet Bruce and have a talk with him sooner than he planned to. But now Bruce was eyeing him in such a way that Dick just couldn’t say no. Reluctantly, he stepped closer and then lowered himself down to the empty space beside the older man. They weren’t actually sitting that close to each other, but Bruce could sense the uneasiness coming from Dick.

 

“Dick, relax. It’s just me.”

 

Easy for Bruce to say. If it wasn’t because of the dream he had this morning, Dick wouldn’t be feeling so self-conscious right now.

 

“You want a drink or something?”

“No, I’m fine.” Dick responded too quickly, “How about you get to the point instead?”

 

Bruce raised an eyebrow and Dick caught a hint of a smile appearing on the corner of the other man’s lips.

 

“Are you in a hurry?” Bruce asked, the smile managed to find its way on his face, but it didn’t reach his eyes.

“Not really. But I came here thinking that you have something important to talk about. Apparently, I was wrong.”

“Catching up with a family member doesn’t sound important to you?”

“That’s not what I me—”

“Dick. You left so early when we had our first dinner together after a long while. And you did that again during breakfast this morning. What is going on?”

 

Dick didn’t expect that Bruce would bring that up and as a matter of fact, he wasn’t prepared for that so he didn’t know how to answer. Getting only silence from Dick, Bruce decided to speak again.

 

“It’s my fault that we have become so distant like this. If only I… reached out to you more often, it would probably—”

“What are you talking about?” Dick uttered the question, but his head was hanging low, “I chose to leave, didn’t I?”

“Because I let you.”

“Doesn’t matter. It was my choice and even if you hadn’t let me, I’d still have left anyway. Can we not talk about this? If you want to catch up, like you said earlier, I’ll tell you. But I have a feeling you already know. From Alfred. From Tim.”

 

Dick ended his sentence with a scoff.

 

“Dick, it was necessary. I need to keep an eye on you.”

“You don’t trust me. You don’t trust my capability to live my own life. Without you.”

 

The last words stung, but Bruce didn’t show it on his face.

 

“Is that what you want?”

 

Realizing what he had said, Dick’s eyes widened and then he shook his head.

 

“I guess I just want you to trust me more,” he said, still not looking at Bruce.

“But I do, Dick.”

“Really? Because it seems to me that you don’t.”

“I care about you. It’s my way of showing that to you.”

“I really don’t need an extra pair of eyes to babysit me, Bruce. For God’s sake, I’m not Robin anymore.”

“I apologize if I made you feel that way. But I’m only doing what I think is necessary.”

“Well, just stop.”

 

Bruce didn’t say anything. Dick grew more annoyed by each second that ticked by.

 

“Are we done here?”

“No. I’m not finished with you. There’s still something I need to ask you.”

“Ask away. Before I change my mind.”

“What are you hiding from me, Dick?”

 

The question really came out of nowhere and Dick wasn’t sure what Bruce was talking about.

 

“I beg your pardon?”

“Tim told me about an alert system that you’ve built in your computer.”

“Of course he did.”

“What’s it for?”

“It’s none of your business, Bruce.”

“Dick, I need to know. Are you sick or something? The medication I provide you, has it done something to your body?”

“Bruce, I really don’t need to tell you about this. You have no right to know.”

“Even after what we’ve been through?”

 

That hit the nerve and Dick suddenly stood up. But Bruce followed him just as quickly and grabbed his elbow even before Dick could say “I’m leaving.”.

 

“Please, don’t touch me.”

“Is my suspicion right all this time? About that whole week changing everything between us?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Dick tried to jerk away, but Bruce’s grasp on him was so firm that he just couldn’t get away from the older man.

“Yes, you do. That’s why you’ve been avoiding eye-contact with me.”

 

Dick stopped struggling. Then slowly, he turned his head to finally look Bruce in the eyes. He looked resolved and his gaze was penetrating and challenging, but he didn’t say a word. They stared at each other in silence and Dick wondered how long it would last. Bruce was the first to avert his gaze down. Dick saw how the older man was now eyeing his lips and before Dick could pull away, Bruce was already kissing him.

 

Dick gasped and a quick signal was immediately sent to his brain that this was not supposed to happen and he really should pull away. However, his body betrayed him. His other hand that was free found its way rather too quickly around Bruce’s neck, as he responded to the kiss.

 

Bruce let go of Dick’s elbow only to put his palm on the younger man’s hip, squeezing it gently. Dick moaned at the sensation and involuntarily opened his mouth as Bruce’s hot tongue caressed his bottom lip. Despite that, he still tried to push Bruce away although his effort met zero result since his unknown longing for the man got the best of him.

 

When Bruce maneuvered him back to the couch, Dick complied. Their tongues were still engaging inside each other’s mouths as Dick was pushed down, Bruce climbing on top of him.

 

“Bruce…” Dick panted when Bruce broke the kiss and moved on to the juncture of his neck that was covered by a scent patch.

 

The patch was previously hidden by Dick’s jacket collar but now it was on display and Bruce didn’t like how it suppressed Dick’s natural Omega scent. Baring his teeth, Bruce peeled off the patch, nearly grazing the sensitive skin. He spat the patch from his lips to the floor and without warning, started sucking on Dick’s scent gland. Dick jolted and gripped Bruce’s biceps.

 

B, stop…”

 

Bruce did stop. Dick saw how the man hovering above him looked in horror as realization hit him.

 

“Dick… I’m…”

“What are we doing?” The question was uttered as a whisper, Dick not trusting himself to speak any louder.

 

Bruce closed his eyes, his expression clearly said: Just what have I done?!

 

“I really shouldn’t have met you alone,” Dick muttered again.

“Dick, I’m really sorr—”

 

But Dick moved up and captured his lips again before Bruce could finish his apology. He sensed hesitation from the older man and was ready to be upset because after all, this was so wrong; Bruce was his father and all. But then Bruce made his resolve and kissed his son back, abandoning all the morality he had left. The world and society be damned.