.

.

There's an ugly and bitter sort of contempt in getting sober.

Bruce can feel it growing underneath his temples, pounding in a constant, harsh reminder. A quick-frantic rhythm similar to the nighttime club's booming music and the swaying of people around him.

Neon paint-wash splatters in reds and blues and purples cover the walls. His mouth feels uncomfortably dry and has the aftertaste of silver tequila and a cherry, lightly sour-flavored amaretto. Most of Bruce's surroundings wash out in the overhead, indigo blacklight, with unfamiliar, laughing faces pressing in — and for the first time Bruce thinks he regrets everything leading up until now.

For giving up on his mission, firing Alfred because it made easier to hate himself in the process and drowning his sorrows in extravagance and greed and liquor. Like any one of the spoiled, rich brats calling themselves Bruce's friends and keeping him company tonight.

(Exactly how his parents didn't want him to turn out.)

With a groaning sigh, Bruce wipes his palm over his face. Maybe another strong drink will bury it — like Thomas and Martha Wayne were buried, deep, deep and already forgotten by everybody else.

Before he can focus on moving off the stool, everything turns bright, flashing gold. Bruce's eyes hover to no particular spot in general, landing on a figure coming down the dance-floor's staircase. A young man, possibly a few years older than Bruce, with ginger-red hair and a expensive, wool three-piece suit.

Definitely not here for the party.

Bruce observes him in a curious, heavy silence, narrowing his eyes when the man weaves around the drunken, smoking clubbers, mumbling and wincing and obviously trying to avoid bumping into anyone.

As he gets nearer, it's easier to see his clean-shaven and square-jawed, handsome features. Bruce chides himself mentally for the sudden, gripping heat of arousal rearing up, building up in his stomach. In the midst of the noise and colors and pandemonium, the young man is shoved forward by a couple behind him racing to get through everybody else crowding near the bar, seemingly tripping on nothing.

Only managed by the fact Bruce isn't as drunk as he wishes to be, he stands up on instinct and catches the other, stunned man effortlessly, Bruce's entire arm bracing his chest.

"You lost?" Bruce asks loudly, tonelessly, helping him upright.

The young man aims a nervous, smile-grimacing look at him. "I… I think so, yes," he replies, glancing around in mounting, helpless confusion. "I'm trying to find the other downstairs elevator—"

Bruce interrupts him, in a stern dullness, "You're going the wrong way." He grabs onto the other man's wrist and leads him away from the stools, with a rough, forceful tug. If there was a protest to this action, Bruce doesn't hear it over the newest, rumbling techno-beat from all sides.

Everything around him goes from gold to a icy, crystallized blue, dotted by hordes of pink and mint-green glowsticks held aloft. They reach a less crowded area when Bruce realizes there's a papery, peeling nametag on the other man's suit. What's scribbled on it blurs, his vision losing focus as Bruce's head pounds harder than before, but he makes out a "XANDER" in crisp, black marker.

"I suppose you frequent this establishment?"

The words aren't seeped in venom or cynicism. Bruce can hardly believe the firm neutrality in Xander's expression, or his voice. Almost as if he doesn't know who Bruce Wayne is. That can't be possible.

"No idea," Bruce admits. They linger in the magenta, neon-hued corridor where the elevators were located.

A scoffing noise.

Xander's lips stretch into a tiny, disbelieving smile. His teeth are straightened and a pearly white quality. Bruce's stomach clenches, as does his groin, filling with heat. "How wouldn't you know that…?"

There's not a good answer for that question. He shifts, leaning in towards the other man until Xander's gusts of breath nearly touch him. "It's late," Bruce says hoarsely, his dark brown eyes scanning Xander who stares back at him wide-eyed. "I drank a lot… mm'not even sure where I am right now… …"

Honest is not a thing Bruce feels he can be. Not with anyone. Not to a complete stranger — an unmistakably wealthy and meek stranger — who clearly does not belong here. And yet, Bruce wants to.

He feels this like an invisible gravitational-pull, when Xander steps backwards, their fingers hooking.

"Then you should go home…"

Xander's softly-spoken concern vanishes when two of Bruce's girls hurry over, squealing and hanging over him, presenting Bruce with a round of alcoholic shots. He immediately gulps down what has to be a champagne mix, and then hennessy, tingling and overloading his senses. Bruce closes his eyes.

The noise — Bruce's head — quiets. He reopens them, eyeing Xander's chapped lips. They're the same rich peachy-pink color of one of the girl's strapless, sequin-glimmering dresses.

He wants them puffy and warm, grazing against his skin — and as soon as the club explodes into gleaming, metallic confetti raining down from above them, Bruce finds himself tasting Xander's own mouth. It doesn't matter whoever started it, but Bruce wants more, opening up a deepening, delirious kiss, running the tip of his tongue slowly over the rim of the other man's mouth, panting for air.

Bruce's hands crawl into slicked-back, ginger hair, falling and bracketing against the back of Xander's neck. A shuddery, intrigued note escapes those ruddy, kiss-raw lips, and Bruce forgets.

Everything.

.

.

Morning pierces through Bruce's trembling eyelids. He wakes alone and naked in his own bed, his body smelling like it's been sweating the alcohol out of his pores overnight. At least nothing's been puked on.

Bruce swallows harshly, going upright without the world spinning, and reaches for his vibrating phone.

One of his self-proclaimed friends gleefully has sent him a link to a online tabloid and added him to a group chat as they discuss last night's binge-drinking and clubbing and Bruce's wild side-action as described by the paparazzi. By the looks of it, this article had been published just an hour ago. Several smaller photos feature Bruce with girls from various places, but the enlarged photo is of Bruce and another man kissing.

Due to the horrible angle, there's no telling who the person is. Nobody seems to know.

BILLIONAIRE BRAT - BATTING FOR THE OTHER TEAM?

Despite himself, the corner of Bruce's mouth twitches up. He tosses aside his phone onto the crumpled, silk sheets, reaching now for a half-bottle of vodka, chugging and stumbling for the doorway.

To hell with it all.

.

.


Gotham isn't mine. SUMMER OF GOTHAM HAS STARTED ON TUMBLR! I decided for Week 1 (June 1-7) to try out the "Angst" prompt and make something for Baby Batjokes for the very first time! I love Bruce/Jeremiah so much in the show but also just in all of my headcanons and fic ideas! For this one specifically, I wanted to do a Canon AU where it's possible that Bruce met Jeremiah earlier on and just never remembered him. BUT JEREMIAH DEFINITELY DOES. AND THAT'S WHY HE LOOKS AT BRUCE THE WAY HE DOES IN SEASON 4. -EYEBROW WIGGLE- If you love Baby Batjokes too, holler at me! Any thoughts/comments are deeply appreciated! Thanks!