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One of These Things is Not Like the Other

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He didn’t know what the hell had crawled up Bruce’s ass and died today, but if he raised voice one more decibel and didn’t cut out that weird grumbling tone of his, Jason was going to put sugar in the batmobile gas tank and give him something to really be mad about. It didn’t help that he woke up with a migraine like a thunderclap, woozy and nauseated enough to puke his guts out on his way to the shower. He’d had terrible nightmares all night long. While the roiling in his stomach had settled down, the headache was still very much present in the back of his skull. Patrol hadn’t been that bad, but Bruce had swooped into his turf and horned in on his case.

The entire time they’d worked, Bruce had been weird. Angry and quick to snap at him more so than usual. Jason had tried to think about what he’d done to warrant this level of assholery but he’d come up blank. He’d been a good little boy , damnit. The ride back to the cave had been tense, Bruce sat stiff and coiled like a snake ready to strike if Jason so much as breathed wrong. The car stunk too, a weird mix of salt, sweat and thick B.O. strong enough to bring the nausea back full blast. Only the sweet astringent of a breath mint had kept him from making a mess all over the cockpit.

Bruce wrote up his patrol reports when they finally got back to the cave, which left him to his own devices. He could have worked at the spare console seat but he did not want to be anywhere near the old man right now. He wasn’t the only one who noticed his foul mood, Dick and Tim were on edge as well. Out of the corner of his eye he caught Damian mid-slink on the staircase to the manor. He knew what that felt like, being the kid in the cave and unable to take the pressure of Dick and Bruce fighting. He took pity on the kid and made sure to use his considerable bulk to block Bruce’s line of sight and allowed Damian to escape unimpeded.

“I should get going.” Jason sighed when the coast was clear, his jaw cracking open in a yawn.

Bruce had yelled at him before, both in and out of the cowl, but it had been years since he’d growled . He sounded like a displeased bear. It wasn’t even the type of noise the man made when deeply frustrated, hell, it didn’t even sound human. The noise echoed across the cave and Jason watched, nonplussed, as Bruce rose from the console. It took more than a bad mood and voice scramblers to unsettle Jason.

Someone whimpered.

Had Jason not spent his entire career seeking out kids hiding on the streets to help them, he wouldn’t have even heard it, but he did. When he turned to the source, he found Tim staring at Bruce. His body language was completely off, tense in the shoulders with a tremble in his knees and his expression was strained with the weight of some perceived failure.

Knock it the fuck off. What is your problem old man?” Jason snapped. He didn’t like the atmosphere of the room, at all.

“We’ve talked about this. You’re not going anywhere. It’s too close.” Bruce told him curtly, like he was explaining a simple concept to a child. “End of discussion. You’ll stay here.”

“What discussion? The one where you try to boss me around and then give me orders?” Jason had no clue what the actual hell was going on but his gut instinct was telling him to cut and run now before it was too late. “Too close to what??”

Bruce pushed back the cowl, fixing him with a pointed stare. Dick flinched and Jason’s stomach bottomed out.

“You know exactly what I mean, don’t make this harder on yourself Jason. Alfred has laid out everything you need upstairs.” He dismissed him, while Jason reeled from whiplash.

“What. the. FUCK.” 




 

Jason slammed the door to the guest room. He rarely went into the manor these days, barring injury or illness. Things had been better but they weren’t good enough for him to stay . He’d wanted to rail and fight down in the cave but the whole situation was just so goddamn unsettling that he’d decided to just let Bruce think he was going to behave. He’d slip out later when he was sure Bruce was asleep.

He chucked his jacket over the chair by the writing desk and froze as he kicked one boot off. The room was clean and tidy, save the bed. The sheets and comforter were made up tightly like Alfred always did each day, but there were stacks upon stacks of throw blankets and various garments folded meticulously all over the mattress. He stared, incredulous when he realized the clothes were dirty . Stains from sweat, food, and possibly blood were dotted over the lighter fabrics-- he had the immediate thought that Alfred was going senile at long last. Did the old butler accidentally bring the wrong laundry basket up? The blankets were clean and fresh out of the laundry though, puzzling him further.

He carefully deposited the clothes into the laundry chute near the en suite bathroom and put the blankets away in the linen closet. It wasn’t like Alfred at all and he was so worried he nearly forgot about being pissed off at Bruce. He eventually found himself standing outside the butler’s room and he wanted to knock, but the light under the door was out-- a sign that the elderly man was probably asleep. If he woke him up he’d feel horrible so he made the trek back to the guestroom in defeat.

It was going to be at least two hours until Bruce came back up from the cave, away from the surveillance cameras. He had no doubt the old man had them running on the side of the screen as he worked to make sure he stayed put like an obedient little soldier. The thought rankled him, but he was patient when he wanted to be. A shower was in order so he stripped down and marched to the bathroom. He could at least enjoy the facilities.

He was not really one to care about what kind of toiletries he used, but everything on hand was luxurious and spa-quality. Stephanie must have stayed in the room last, because the razor was purple and there was a bottle of bubble bath scented with lavender at the tub side. He stepped under the spray once he got the temperature settings to his liking and groaned at the massage spray from the showerhead. It was perfect for all the kinks in his back muscles, over extended and sore from swinging on grapple lines all night long. 

All too soon he’d finished and he was tempted to just stand under the water a little longer but he needed to get back to his safehouse soon. The fluffy towels were sinfully soft as he dried off and he was amused to realize he smelled… pretty . The shampoo and conditioner had been floral with a hint of citrus and the body wash was a complimentary scent to match. It reminded him of when Kori somehow. Toweling off his hair, he made his way to the walk in closet to grab some fresh clothes.

He stared at the racks, filing through the surprisingly soft materials. They looked like they were his size, but the cuts and designs were just too tender and gentle for his style. Alfred had tried to make him a proper gentleman once, but had long since given up the day he scuffed up his freshly shined shoes. He pulled a cashmere sweater off the hanger, staring at it in his chapped, rough hands. He could feel the fibers catching on his callouses and quickly put it back on the rack to avoid damaging it further. Alfred would kill him.

He settled on a random graphic tee and some jeans. They fit, but… he swallowed, glancing at himself in the mirror. The shirt was fine, but the jeans were entirely too snug for his comfort. They clung to his hips and backside while his nuts felt like they were in a vice. 

“These have got to be Tim’s.” He muttered, baffled. They were far too long for the former Robin though. He finally found something less revealing in the form of sweat pants and sighed in relief as he quickly changed.

He heard someone on the other side of the bedroom door before they knocked and he tensed, waiting for them to announce themselves.

“Jason?” Bruce opened the door, because of course he would. The man had no boundaries, Jason rolled his eyes.

“Bruce.” He gestured sarcastically for the man to come in. 

“Is everything alright?” Bruce closed the door behind him and he tried not to feel claustrophobic alone with the older man.

“I dunno, is it?” Jason fixed him with a look as though he’d grown another head. He was being entirely too mercurial today for Jason’s liking. “You’re the one being a dick. I don’t know what I did to make you mad but you need to get over it.” He shrugged a shoulder absently.


“I’m not angry.” Bruce admitted with some difficulty.

“Sure, and I’m the Queen of Sheba.”

“I’m just worried.” Would wonders never cease? Jason clenched his jaw to keep it from falling open. He folded his arms over his chest feeling much too vulnerable. It might have been his imagination but Bruce was looking at him, specifically his hands as though he was anticipating a punch.

“I’m fine?” Jason shook his head. “I’m actually gonna just go to sleep soon, so…”

Relief flickered over the older man’s face, as his gaze snapped upwards to meet Jason’s. 

“Of course. Did you have enough bedding?” Bruce asked, trailing off as he noticed the turned down bed. “Did Alfred not bring the materials?”

“ He brought some sheets and stuff. I put most of it away for him.” Jason sat on the bed, punching one of the feather down pillows. 

“Hrn.” Bruce shifted his weight, and suddenly Jason had the feeling that had been the wrong thing to say. The man moved closer, wordlessly opening the nightstand to rummage around. Before Jason could ask him what he was looking for, Bruce pulled out the biggest dildo Jason has ever seen in his life . Granted, it was the only one he's ever seen in person before. Black and smooth, save for a strange bulbous lump (that he swore was the size of his fist) near the base of it. It even had a suction cup. Bruce looked resigned and exasperated as he wielded it as though it were the most normal thing in the world to do.

“Jason we talked about this. You know that putting it off is not good for your health. If you’re really so angry at us that you won’t let us help that’s fine. But please, at least use this to get through it.”

His brain short circuited as Bruce pressed the... personal massager into his hand. He’d used a lot of weapons in his lifetime but he could safely say he’d not once brandished a dildo. He screamed, not caring if it was a little high pitched and a whole lot of panic. He launched off the bed and cracked the older man right across the face with a resounding fleshy smack. Bruce stumbled back, stunned. For a moment, time seemed to grind to a halt and they stared each other down. Blood bubbled from the older man’s nostril before it poured down his chin like a river.

 Jason ran away like his ass was on fire