Alfred didn’t expect to find Bruce sitting on one of the chairs in the kitchen, seemingly deep in thought while holding a cup of coffee. Judging from the lack of steam, it seemed that Bruce had been there for quite a while without even sipping his coffee.
“Master Bruce, good morning.”
Bruce looked surprised hearing Alfred’s greetings. When he turned his head around, the old man saw how tired his master seemed to be.
“I didn’t expect you to be here. If you need coffee, you could’ve waited until I bring it to you to the chamber.”
“I just… need some time away,” Bruce replied, looking at his reflection in the black liquid.
“From Master Dick?”
“From this situation.”
“How is he?”
“He’s…” Bruce sighed, “I tied him to the bed, Alfred. I had to.”
If Alfred looked surprised at Bruce’s confession, he didn’t show it. Instead, he stepped closer to the man and put a comforting hand on Bruce’s shoulder.
“It is quite alright, Sir.”
Bruce shook his head, “No. I’m hurting him. He needs me and yet, I left him there alone.”
“But as you said, you had to.”
For a moment, Bruce didn’t say anything. Alfred decided to let him be and start making breakfast.
Bruce started talking again.
“... … He was begging for it, Alfred.”
Alfred paused the task he was doing and turned around. He had a feeling he knew what Bruce was talking about but he waited for the man to elaborate.
“He was begging for my knot and I…” Bruce gulped, “... I’m so ashamed to admit that I almost gave in.”
“I believe it was your Alpha reacting to his Omega’s pleads, Sir.”
“No, Alfred. I could feel it. I could feel the urge,” Bruce spoke, almost inaudible but it was enough for Alfred to hear him, “It was, it was coming from… me.”
Alfred didn’t respond right away. He had been thinking about it and he wondered if now was a good time to discuss it with Bruce. After another minute of silence, he decided to test the water.
“Master Bruce, how do you feel toward Master Dick?”
Clearly, Bruce hadn’t expected such a question. His eyebrows were furrowed and he looked genuinely confused.
“You know the answer, Alfred. He’s my son; I care about him. I love him as if he were my own flesh and blood.”
“I mean now, after you’ve spent some… alone time together with him. Did you feel like something has changed?”
Bruce blinked. Then it dawned on him; the memory from the first night he embraced his adoptive son intimately. He did feel something. Something that his genius mind couldn’t seem to fathom. But now that Alfred was asking him about it, it seemed like he was beginning to put the pieces together.
Alfred could see the answer from Bruce’s expression. He heaved a deep sigh before continuing, “It has been said to be a rare case, Sir. For an Alpha to find their true mate, and vice versa. So rare that nowadays people will just bond with their chosen ones. These bonds are mostly based on mutual attractions toward each other. Regardless of whether it’s their true mates or not.”
Knowing that Alfred still had more to say, Bruce stayed quiet and kept on listening.
“True mates, on the other hand, don’t necessarily involve… love. For example, an Omega who has already formed a bond with a Beta of their choice, can be taken by an Alpha if the Alpha is the Omega’s true mate. The Omega will follow the Alpha, despite their bond with the Beta.”
“That’s very inhuman and unfair to the pair,” Bruce commented.
“I agree. But thanks to the protests nearly two decades ago, people can now bond with their loved ones. And as time goes by, true mates—or soul bonds as they call it—have been eventually forgotten and become a myth.”
Bruce’s fingers tightened around the cup’s handle as he voiced out his thought, “You think… Dick and I are—”
“I’ve had my suspicions ever since Master Dick confided in me about how he found your scent different from the other Alphas he knows. He was… confused why only you whose scent he can bear with and even found comforting.”
For a moment, Bruce eyes were just focused on his cup of coffee as Alfred’s words were stuck in his mind.
“Just like how he is to me. Not even Selina can affect me in a way that Dick does,” Bruce murmured.
Alfred continued speaking.
“It is your scent that calms him down; that puts him in to ease. It is your scent that makes him feel as if he is safe as long as you are around. Master Bruce, please excuse my question, but for these past few days, how do you see him? Do you still see him as a son?”
It took a moment before Bruce shook his head as a reply. He looked upset at himself.
“I know this is too personal to ask, but did you bite him?”
“No. I wouldn’t dare.”
“But do you want to?”
Alfred maintained his calmness although it pained him to see the distress on the face of the man he had raised. Bruce pulled at his hair before suddenly, he slammed the table with his fists until his cold coffee spilled out of the cup.
“My god, yes! I do, Alfred! God knows how many times I held back the urge to bite him and I kept telling myself it was my Alpha’s influence but deep down, I did know that it was me who wanted it.”
“And I’ve stopped seeing him as a son after the first night. I felt something. I felt like I belong with him and I’m connected to him; body and soul. I’m… god, I’ve failed him as a father, Alfred.”
Alfred wanted to hug the man. Bruce was breaking apart. However, the wise butler knew that he wasn’t the right person for it. When an Alpha was broken, only their Omega could mend them.
“Alfred, am I… have I been doing the right thing after all?”
Alfred looked him in the eyes, it was almost as if he could see the pain that the Alpha was currently feeling; it was as if his emotions were in disarray and needed to be in line again.
“I’m afraid I can’t provide you an answer. But for now, at least I can suggest you return to the chamber. You may find your answer there.”
There was a hint of reluctance within Bruce’s eyes but the man stood up nonetheless. He looked at Alfred for a long time before he spoke.
“What would become of me without you, Alfred?”
Despite the situation, Alfred smiled.
“Master Bruce, it will be alright. You will make it alright. I have faith in you.”
“I could never thank you enough.”
“Don’t worry about that. Now, go. Don’t keep him waiting.”
Bruce nodded and then turned around. Alfred watched quietly as the man left.
Dick pulled at the restraints. Under other circumstances, he would be more than capable to set himself free. But right now, he was at the weakest point of his life. Not to mention that Bruce had left him in a state that would enrage him beyond belief. But instead of anger, he felt a sense of helplessness. Part of him understood that Bruce needed to get away from him even just for a minute, but the other part was… sad. It was almost like that day again, when he saw his parents die in front of him.
“Unh…” Dick sobbed, tears falling to his cheek involuntarily.
His body shook uncontrollably when he reached climax for the third time after Bruce left him in this state. He hated himself. He hated how he wished it was Bruce’s manhood inside him right now instead of a vibrator. He was too overwhelmed by his orgasm that he didn’t notice Bruce entering the chamber. He didn’t notice the man walking toward him and beginning to untie him. He didn’t notice Bruce turning off the vibrator and pulling it out of his overly sensitive hole.
When Dick came down from euphoria, he was already wrapped within Bruce’s embrace. The older man gently rubbed his arm to soothe him. And all the anger inside Dick was gone. He clung to Bruce as if his life depended on it.
“How could you do this to me?” Dick’s voice sounded really hoarse.
Bruce allowed Dick to bury his face in his neck, taking comfort of his scent. It wasn’t long before he felt Dick’s tears wetting his pajama and all Bruce could do was calming the other man down to sleep, without constantly blaming himself for everything that was changing between them.
Bruce felt something vibrate against his thigh, and just at the same time, Dick pushed him back a little. Still hovering above the younger man, Bruce watched as Dick fished out his mobile phone from his jeans pocket to check who was calling. An unknown number which Dick didn’t recognize flashed on the screen and his thumb halted midway from sliding the accept button.
“You’re not going to answer that?” Bruce asked, curious.
“Not sure if I should.”
“That could be important.”
Dick shifted his gaze away from the still vibrating phone and back to Bruce.
“What’s more important than this?” Was all he said before he claimed Bruce’s lips again.
Bruce smiled into the kiss and took Dick’s phone from his hand and put it on the table. Driven by impulses though they might be, Bruce swore to himself that he wasn’t going to regret this. Dick’s responses were good so far and Bruce admitted that it boosted his confidence; that maybe, they shared mutual feelings after all.
The phone went still for a few seconds, only to vibrate again. Against the glass surface, its vibration sounded louder that Dick had to push Bruce back again.
“Okay maybe you were right about it being important.”
“I always am,” replied Bruce, a cocky smile appearing on his handsome face.
Dick rolled his eyes as he finally picked up the call, “Grayson.”
Bruce could vaguely hear a woman’s voice from the speaker. She sounded urgent and her words were unintelligible. But whatever she was telling Dick, it made his expression changed from calm to worry. Instinctively, Bruce put a hand on Dick’s shoulder and squeezed it gently. Once Dick hung up, he looked down at his phone and when he spoke, he sounded as urgent as the woman had.
“I gotta go.”
Without waiting for a reply, Dick rose from the couch and smoothed his clothes.
“I could give you a ride. It’s faster.”
Dick gave Bruce a once-over. He came here riding his motorbike but the idea of spending more time with Bruce sounded more appealing at the moment.
“What about your job?”
“No need to worry. Let’s go.”
Dick nodded but then his eyes widened, “Wait. My scent patch. I didn’t bring a spare.”
“Dick, I’ve scented you enough. You practically smell like me now. No other Alphas will approach you.”
Bruce then walked ahead to the door, unaware of Dick sniffing at himself.
When they arrived at the café Dick had gone to this morning, the place was already demarcated by police line. Dick unfastened the seat-belt soon after Bruce pulled over.
“Stay inside. I spotted reporters. Don’t want you to attract their attention.”
Bruce wanted to argue but Dick might be right. The younger man got out of the car and Bruce saw him running inside. He was stopped by a police officer but Dick showed the officer his ID and after being convinced, he let Dick in.
While waiting, Bruce was reminded of what Alfred had told him and then he began searching about Mevius Corp. and its current CEO. He might have met the man in person earlier, but Sanders Edenbrook never actually mentioned about their products. He did invite Bruce to visit his company, though.
His attention was split when Bruce caught a movement from the café. He saw two men manhandling a gurney out of the café’s entrance and to the ambulance parked nearby. The body was covered by a white cloth from head to toe, which confirmed Bruce’s suspicions: somebody had been found dead. But who? And why was Dick so concerned about this?
Before long, Bruce saw Dick exit the café but he was talking to two women. The first woman, Bruce judged from her uniform, was the waitress. But the other was wearing everyday clothes. She might be a patron or something. Whoever she was, her face was wet with tears as she explained something to Dick.
After another five minutes or so, Dick finally knocked on his car door before opening it. Bruce waited until he was seated on the passenger’s seat and was ready to drive away, but Dick didn’t even touch the seat-belt. Confused, Bruce turned to him.
“What is it?”
“Just a sec.”
Dick was holding his phone the whole time. He was looking at the screen now and Bruce could see that he was thinking hard. But before Bruce could ask him a question, Dick was already showing the photo on the screen to him.
“Found this mark on the victim’s palm. Looks like it was drawn with a lipstick.”
Bruce examined the photo as Dick mumbled to himself.
“Number eight. What does this number mean? If it was to indicate the order of the murders, she should be the fifth. But I didn’t find any number from the previous four victims.”
“I know what it is,” Bruce said.
Nodding, Bruce handed the phone back to Dick. Dick looked confused as he accepted the device but then Bruce rotated it so the phone now laid in landscape mode on Dick’s open palm. Dick squinted his eyes as he looked at the photo again. Then he gasped. Shifting his gaze to Bruce, Dick whispered, “Möbius strip.”
A woman in a lab coat half ran in the hallway before she arrived in front of a door. Knocking twice on it, she then heard someone answer.
Gotten the permission she needed, the woman entered the office. The person who had answered to her was sitting on a chair that had been spun around, facing the window. Despite not being able to see her boss, she began talking.
“She didn’t make it, Sir.”
“Pity,” replied the man on the chair without sympathy whatsoever, “How long did she last?”
“Barely a day. I injected her with the substance this morning, as per your order, and released her not long after. She went into heat in the afternoon and was quickly taken to a nearby café. Our man said she was found dead inside the emergency bunker about two hours later.”
“So it must have dissipated by then.”
“Correct, Sir. There should be no trace of her having been drugged.”
For a while, the man said nothing. Then, he stated his new order.
“Capture another Omega and increase the dose.”
“Female again, Sir?”
“Let’s try with a male this time.”
“You may leave.”
The woman turned on her heels but halted before she reached the door.
“Sir… a man helped her. There was a sighting of this man again after the police came to the scene.”
The woman waited until her boss gave a reply.
“Find this man.”
After his subordinate left, the man spun around on his chair again. His gaze landed on a photo frame on his desk. It was a photo of him and an older man. They were both smiling in the photo.
“I will build a better world, Father. I will make you proud… and make that bitch suffer for leaving us.”
Barbara heard her doorbell ring. She almost wanted to ignore it, but the uninvited guest was persistent. A bit irritated, she headed to the front door and opened it, only to find Tim standing outside.
“Hi, Barbara. I need your help.”
“Seems like everybody needs my help lately,” Barbara commented, allowing Tim to come in.
“What do you mean?”
“First Dick. Now you.”
“Dick asked for your help?”
“Yes. He didn’t tell you?”
Barbara had her back facing Tim, therefore she couldn’t see the teen’s expression turn sour.
“So, how can I help you? No fieldwork, I hope. As you can see, I’m working on something now.”
“Something for Dick?” Tim asked.
Tim watched her taking a seat in front of her computer again, while he settled on the single couch on the other side of the room. The teen decided to let his disappointment aside at the moment and focus on the task at hand.
“Can you help me find blueprints of Mevius Corp. building?”
Tim’s request made Barbara pause her work and spun around to face him.
“What are you up to this time, Robin?”
“Not for Batman, I bet.”
Tim didn’t comment, but Barbara had turned to her computer again.
“I don’t think Dick will be happy if I share this with you, but whatever he’s investigating right now is bigger than he thinks and he’ll need all the help he can get.”
“I’ve done my own research too if you’re up for bartering.”
Barbara made a thinking a face, “... Okay, you’ve piqued my curiosity.”
Tim stood up and made a beeline for her desk, extracting something from his pocket.
“It’s all in this flash drive,” he added, putting the item on the desk.