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Things They Didn't Need to Know
So this was what hyperventilating felt like. He didn't like it.
Why was there never a paper bag around when you really needed one?
Closing his eyes, he forced himself to calm down, clear his mind, and just breathe naturally. There, better.
A door opened. "Bruce Wayne! Haven't you ever heard of knocking?"
Eyes flying wide open, Bruce was sure he jumped at least a foot in the air. "Uh . . . " He felt as if he'd just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. "I--I--"
Despite her slightly rumpled appearance, Dr. Leslie Thompkins regally walked out of her clinic's medical supply closet. She turned to her escort. "Really, Alfred, I thought you'd raised him with proper manners." A twinkle in her eyes took the sting out of the rebuke.
Alfred Pennyworth, who actually *had* been the one with his hand caught in the "cookie jar," bowed over her hand still held in his. "Apologies, madam, but in all fairness, he didn't know the room was, ah, occupied."
She nodded graciously. "Well, then, your apology is accepted. Bruce, I forgive you."
Considering what had been going on in the closet, the whole situation seemed rather surreal to Bruce. He blinked in disbelief. "Excuse me?"
Leslie waved her free hand. "Yes, yes, I already have. Now, dear, what did you want to see me about?"
"Uh, um . . . I forgot." This couldn't be real. Perhaps he had been drugged? Yes, that must be it. He had probably been captured during a case, injected with some sort of drug in order to--to make him think he'd just seen his doctor and butler having sex in a closet? When he woke up, some punk criminal was going to wish he'd never come across the Bat.
"You *forgot*? Master Bruce, are you well?"
"No, don't think so." How was he going to wake himself up?
"Yo, Bruce!" Dick Grayson appeared around the corner. "What's taking you so long?"
Oh dear, maybe this wasn't a dream. Maybe this was all real? Nuts.
"Uh . . . "
"A visit in the daytime!" Leslie reached up and kissed his cheek. "Dick, sweetie, what a surprise!"
"Hey, Doc! Hey Alf! Y'all ready to go?"
"Go where, Master Dick?"
"Out to lunch. Didn't Bruce talk to you?" Dick looked at Bruce, who looked a bit pale. "Bruce, you all right?"
"Be fine in a minute," Bruce mumbled. Oh yes, lunch.
"Ya sure? Hey, Al--" Dick did a double take. "What's that on your neck?" he squinted to get a better look at the reddish spot on the older man's Adam's apple. "And I think you're missing a button on your shirt." Ever-observant, Dick thought there was something odd going on. He mentally stepped back from the tableau before him. Two people holding hands, looking like they'd dressed in a hurry, a--a hickey(!) on Alfred's throat, Bruce in shock. "Wait a minute . . . "
Knowing that Bruce was best left to himself so that he could process, Leslie and Alfred waited patiently, sure that eventually Dick would get it. Leslie stage-whispered to her companion, "Should we give him a hint?"
"No, dear lady," he whispered back loudly, "he's the second best detective in the world, after all."
Dick gaped at the pair in amazement. "Oh. My. God. You did it, didn't you?" He blew out a breath. "Man! This is, this is like some twisted game of 'Clue.' Doctor Leslie, in the closet, with--with Alfred!" He whooped. "Congrats to both of you!" He crushed the elderly couple in a bear hug, not giving them a chance to reply. "Bruce, who'd a thunk it, huh? I mean, I knew they had the hots for each other, but man oh man! I never woulda thought they'd actually *do* something about it! And makin' out in a closet, of all places! That's just so, so cute!"
Now Bruce was blushing. "Cute, uh huh," he muttered. If he'd had that bag he'd wanted earlier, he would've put it over his head.
Knowing that it was now safe, Leslie and Alfred put their arms around each other's waist and stood closer together. "Coming out of the closet wasn't as bad as you thought, was it Alfie?" Leslie patted his hip.
"You don't have to live with him," Alfred mumbled sotto voce.
After his excitement passed, Dick noticed Bruce's discomfiture. "Aw, come on, Bruce, don't be such a prude." He gently punched him on the shoulder.
"'Mnot a prude," Bruce muttered childishly. "This is just a . . . a lot to take in."
"Are so a prude. Remember when you gave me 'The Talk'? You hemmed and hawed for at least fifteen minutes. Finally you just gave up and just said, 'Don't.' Alfred had to explain everything to me. Besides, they were just neckin' in the closet. Big deal," Dick shrugged.
"It was more than just necking, Dick, they were . . . " Bruce turned an even deeper shade of red. Leslie had a small smile, and Alfred merely raised an eyebrow.
Dick finally grasped the severity of the situation and started to redden. "Oh." This gave "Restocking Day" a whole new meaning.
"Hey come on, guys!" Tim Drake's voice reached them from the hallway. "I'm starvin' here!"
Dick and Bruce stared at each other. The shared look conveyed the same thought: Protect the baby!
"Comin' right out, bro!" "We'll be out in a minute!"
"Dude! What's taking so long? Hey guys," Tim greeted the elderly couple. "Wassup?"
"What *wasn't* up?" Dick said under his breath. Bruce whacked the back of his head. "Ow!"
"Soooo," Tim looked at Leslie and Alfred, "you two coming or not?"
"We were about to, young sir." Alfred winked at the lady next to him. Leslie's eyes widened as she caught his double entendre, and she ran back into the closet, slamming the door behind her. They could hear her laughter even through the barrier. "She'll be fine," Alfred reassured them calmly with a slight twitch to his lips. The two men known as the scourges of their respective cities looked as though they were ready to sink into the floor.
Tim looked around at the remaining group. Something hinky was going on. "Okay, guys, the jig is up. Just spit it out, and let's go, 'kay?" Knowing how talkative Bruce was likely to be, he turned to Dick and Alfred. "Well? What's going on?"
Dick looked at Alfred for permission, which was granted by a nod. The floor was his.
"You see, Tim, uh, when two people really like each other--"
"Aw, no, man!" Tim looked at him with horror. "You're not gonna give me 'The Talk,' are you? C'mon! I just asked what's going on! If you don't wanna tell me, then just say so! If you gotta secret, I can respect that. Geez! I mean, look who I'm hangin' with!"
Dick sputtered indignantly. "What're you talking about? I'm just trying to give you some background info on the case here! I wasn't trying to distract you! I--" Tim just glared at him. "I--they were--and then Bruce . . . Oh crap. Just. Don't!" He waved his hands in defeat.
Bruce smirked at him. "See? I'm not a prude."
Leslie emerged from the closet still chuckling and wiping tears from her eyes. "I'm sorry, but Alfie has such an awful sense of humor."
Tim's quick mind put the pieces together. His eyes widened. "Oh no. You two in the closet?" The couple just looked back at him. Bruce slapped a hand over his eyes, and Dick took a deep breath, ready to calm his young friend.
"Geez," Tim snorted, "you guys really *are* in a rut. I thought the old 'stuck in the closet' thing was done to death." Bruce and Dick gaped at the boy. "I mean, if you, like, did it in the back of an ambulance, that's one thing, but--"
Leslie smacked Alfred's shoulder. "You told him?!"
Alfred rubbed his slight injury. "No, luv, but you just did," he replied dryly.
"You knew?!" Bruce squeaked. He cleared his throat and said in a deeper, manlier voice, "I mean, you knew?!"
Tim rolled his eyes. "You tellin' me you didn't? Buy a clue already!"
"Sorry for hitting you, Alfie. Can I make it up to you?"
"Don't worry, pet, I'm starting to like it."
"Whoa!" Dick clapped his hand over his ears. "TMI! Did *not* need to hear that!"
"Boys," Leslie said sweetly, but kept her eyes on her man, "I think we'll decline your invitation for lunch."
Alfred agreed. "Indeed, you three had better leave without us. Besides, the good doctor has already had a bite." He rubbed his throat as he followed Leslie back into the closet. Before closing the door, he stopped and turned around. "Oh, Sir, in the future, please knock. Good day, gentlemen." The catch clicked firmly in place.
"Dang!" Tim swore. "I forgot to ask if they still wanted to double with me and Steph on Saturday."
"You knew," Bruce still accused.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Dick whined, "I thought we were buds!"
"I thought you guys knew," the accused shot back. "You've known'em for how many years now?" Tim heaved a sigh. "Look, I was really looking forward to lunch, so we'll talk on the way, 'kay?" Slightly mollified, the two larger men allowed their junior partner to push them towards the exit. "All right, guys, it's like this: When two people really like each other . . . "