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Steph, 3:29 PM:

need super tampons. it’s an emergency. can u please run to store? would owe you FOREVER

Bruce re-read the text message, finishing his keystroke. On the computer screen, the footage from the robbery replayed in abhorrent quality, unaffected by the compression sequence he’d just run it through. 

With a sigh, he restarted the sequence with a click, turning back to his cellphone. If he was lucky, the compression would finish in an hour. 

Maybe it was time for a break. 

Of course, he texted back to Steph, grabbing his sweater from the back of the computer chair. Just that?

His phone began buzzing as he walked up the stairs out of the Cave. 


Steph, 3:31 pm: 

you’re AMAZING bruce ahhhhh thank you

seriously 

i owe you big time

yes, just grab me a super tampon, i don’t care which kind 

That was simple enough.

Stepping into the kitchen, he nodded at Alfred. The butler was at the stove, stirring something that smelled like tomatoes and garlic. 

“Need anything from the store?” he asked, shrugging into his sweater. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.” 

“The store?” Alfred asked, raising an eyebrow. His gaze skittered over the sweater, then his pants. Bruce nodded, refusing to elaborate for Steph’s sake. “I think we’re fine.”

“Alright,” he said, heading for the garage. “Call me if anything changes.” 

It was a Thursday night in Gotham. Normally, that kind of reminder would be innocuous. Hey, I need eggs after all. Could you grab some milk while you’re there, too?

For Alfred, it was a pointed reminder. 

Call me if something happens. 

His phone was still buzzing as he slipped into the black SUV parked in the far garage. He checked the screen, grinning as he saw Steph’s increasingly-severe threats to the family groupchat if they started the movie without her. 

Steph, 3:36 pm: 

tim, if you even THINK about pressing play, i will stomp you to death with my hooves

i dare you to do it

i want you to do it 

i want you to do it so i can stomp you with my hooves, tim 

Bruce squinted as the messages continued to roll in, dropping the phone on the passenger seat. He started the car, backing out of the garage into the blistering cold wind and snow. 

The drive was uneventful, and he was in the convenience store a few minutes later, Gotham Knights hoodie drawn over his face. 

He liked this location. There were never paparazzi, mostly because it was a dump. And held up often, though not if Bruce could help it. 

He entered and waved at Karen, who was at the front counter reading a magazine. She waved back, beaming at him over a photo of Brad Pitt. 

“Hey! How’s the family?” 

“Good,” Bruce replied, grabbing a basket, “Slow night?”

He also liked Karen. She read enough gossip magazines to know who he was on sight, but never said a word. The occasional casual conversation was actually a relief. 

“You bet,” Karen said, looking anything but dejected by the prospect. She set down the magazine, waving at the windows. “Crazy snow, huh? I could barely get my van out before my shift.”

“It’s very heavy,” Bruce replied. “Lake effect.”

“Mhm.”

Small talk done, he wandered over to the menstrual products aisle, making a beeline for the tampon section. The store had a surprisingly large selection, which drew him up short. 

Just a super tampon, he repeated mentally. She’s not picky. 

He picked up a box of Tampax, flipping it over to read the label. 

Radiant, the text read, Take a tampon wherever you need it with our patented resalable technology. 

Bruce ignored the rest of the branding, squinting at the materials. Cotton, plastic, rayon... polyethylene?  

“No,” he said out loud, setting the box back on the shelf. “Not that one.”

The U by Kotex Click Compact tampons were on sale. He turned it to the back, examining the “click technology” diagrams. 

The ease of transportation was definitely a plus, and didn’t seem to suffer in the transition between flow types. He switched to the ingredients, wishing he’d brought his reading glasses for the fine print. 

More polyethylene. Damn. 

A quick perusal of the other tampon brands revealed the same ingredients. He pulled out his phone, dismayed, and quickly skimmed a few papers on polyethylene degradation and pesticide use on cotton, the frown on his face growing.

Alright. Don’t panic. What’s left? 

He scanned the row and picked up a jar under the “naturals” subsection. The tampons boasted organic cotton without the use of pesticides, which was promising. 

Applicator-free, the label said, underlined twice, for an environmentally-friendly period. 

Bruce hesitated, realizing he didn’t know what Steph preferred. He dropped the jar in anyway, perusing the rest of the “naturals” section. 

On an impulse, he grabbed a few boxes of natural pads and liners as well, throwing them in the basket with the tampons. If Steph didn’t use them, someone else would. 

And they make decent emergency bandages, he reminded himself, thinking of the medbay in the Cave. On that note…

He placed a few extra boxes of the super plus natural tampons in the basket, nodding to himself.

Never know when you needed to tampenaude a bullet wound on the fly. 

Looking up, he was about to exit the aisle when a sign caught his eye. 

New menstrual cups! Buy one at $39.99, get one half off!

He stepped closer, glancing at the brightly colored boxes. Medical grade silicone. Clean your menstrual cup safely at home with our BPA-free patented design!

“Medical grade?” he murmured to himself, surprised.  

The assortment of cups boasted a maximum capacity of 30 ml, compared to the meager 5 ml provided by the tampons. 

Shrugging, he threw two of the cups into the basket, a medium and a large. He pulled his phone back up and looked up the risk of TSS comparison between them and the tampons, settling against the shelf to read. 

...medical professional recommend the use of a menstrual cup because of its lessened risk of TSS (Toxic shock syndrome) and complications. Most menstrual cups can be worn for up to 12 hours, while literature indicates the risk of TSS increases after 4 hours of tampon usage…

Bruce glanced at the tampons already in the basket, suspicious. 

... Previous studies investigated whether tampons made of cotton or rayon affect S. aureus growth and TSST-1 production using bacterial cultivation with or without the addition of tampons and found that none of them amplified TSST-1 production (15,–20). However, those reports are several decades old, and the experimental conditions were generally quite different from those of typical tampon use...

Far be it from him to change Steph’s menstrual preference. The case studies on current, tampon-related TSS incidents were far from reassuring, though. He made a note to send her them, saving a few of the Applied and Environmental Microbiology papers on his phone. 

...however, menstrual cups are not immune from the risk of TSS. A French case found growth of S. aureus on the menstrual cup of a woman who...

Fingers twitching, he gave in and grabbed a reusable menstrual cloth and added it to the basket, just in case.

He emerged from the menstrual products aisle with the basket in the crook of his arm, heavier than he thought it would be. Karen was wide-eyed when he approached the counter, setting her magazine aside. 

“Whoah,” she said. “Having a hard time deciding?”

Bruce felt his lips twitch. It was an innocent enough question. 

“The market standard for menstrual materials is abhorrent.” he said, crossing his arms. 

Karen nodded, scanning the first box of tampons. “I know. So much plastic. It’s like, we’re trying to save the earth, right? Not make it worse?”

“Right.” 

“Honestly, I love my Diva Cup,” Karen said, setting the first box in a plastic bag and reaching for another. “Best thing ever, once you get a hang of it. Oh, I didn’t even ask if you wanted paper.” 

“Paper would be great, yeah.” 

Karen switched the bags, reaching for the pads. “It’s really such a preference thing. My friend can’t use any cups because she has a tilted uterus. How crazy is that?”

Bruce watched her scan the last box of pads. “...very crazy?”

“Yeah!”

The scanning was finished a few seconds later. Karen tapped at the register screen, nails clicking against the glass. 

“Alright...your total is. Uh, $205.49, with tax.” She looked a little awed. “Do you want to use your member number?”

Bruce winced, imagining the targeted ads he’d get. “No, thank you.”

“Alright. You can insert your card now.” 

He did, then removed it, keying in his pin. After a moment, the register beeped, and Karen handed him a receipt. 

“Need help getting those out to your car?” she asked jokingly as he grabbed the bags--seven, if he counted correctly. 

“They’re light,” he joked back, nodding at her. “Drive safe tonight.”

“You too!”

Once in the car, the bags packed into the trunk, he pulled out his phone again, opening his missed messages. 

Steph, 4:08 pm:

i’m in the second floor bathroom. plz place offerings in front of door and vacate area immediately 

Bruce slipped the phone back into his pocket, starting the car. The drive back was slower, the road slowly becoming more inundated with snow. 

He waved to Alfred as he slipped in through the back door, the bags tucked under one arm. The butler looked mildly concerned, still stirring at the stove. 

“Master Wayne,” he said, “what on earth did you buy?”

“Snow essentials,” Bruce said, shielding the bags with his body, hurrying for the stairs. “Talk to you later!”

He took the steps three at a time, hurrying toward the bathroom. Once there, he knocked twice, depositing the bags like Steph had instructed. 

“Hey,” he said softly. “I got you some extra stuff in case--”

The door opened to a crack. Steph pushed a hand out, clawing the bags through the gap and shutting the door immediately. 

Bruce sat against the wall, hearing the telltale sounds of plastic and rustling paper. 

“Bruce,” Steph said, muffled, “what the hell did you buy?”

“Well,” he started, “I was looking into the ingredients, and most of the major tampon brands use--”

There was an outraged sound.

“What the fuck is this?” 

Bruce winced. “I can’t see what you’re referring to.”

“You bought me a reusable pad?!”

“Yes,” he replied, “if you look at these papers I’ll send you, the risk of TSS increases dramatically even with natural tampon us--”

Bruce,” Steph said, sounding outraged. And baffled. “You think I don’t know about TSS?”

“No, I’m just saying the recent literature suggests the rate of complication--”

“Bruce!”

“Okay,” he said, pausing. “Can I still send you the papers?”

“When I don’t have my hand in my vagina, sure!”

Bruce sighed, disappointed. “So you’re using the tampons.”

“Of course I’m--oh my god ,” Steph said, sounding annoyed. There was more rustling, then the sound of a cabinet shutting. “Why did you buy me all this shit? I just asked for super tampons.” 

“I was worried about polyethylene.”

Steph was silent. The faucet started running. 

“Also, Karen at the store said she loves her Diva Cup,” Bruce offered weakly. He put his head back against the wall. “Except her friend can’t use it, because she has a tilted uterus.”

There was another incomprehensible sound. 

“Yeah, I haven’t really unpacked that yet.” Bruce said. “But if you--”

He was interrupted by Steph opening the door. She was holding a solitary box, the other items out of sight. 

“You put them away?” Bruce asked, curious. He stood slowly, knees aching as he held onto the wall. 

“Except this one,” Steph shoved the reusable menstrual pad into his arms. “That’s some Handmaid’s Tale shit, Bruce.”

“Okay,” he said, staring down at the box. He could already think of a few uses for it down in the Cave. “But the tampons worked?”

“Of course they worked,” Steph said, sliding her phone out. She glanced up at him, momentarily awkward. “Thanks for, uh, getting them for me. I owe you one.” 

Bruce smiled, relieved. “You’re welcome.” 

He watched fondly as she headed for the back stairs, muttering to herself as she texted. 

“--can’t believe he bought me two menstrual cups--”

Bruce’s phone buzzed. He glanced at it, seeing the family chat was active again. 

Steph, 4:32 pm: 

i’m coming, bitches

you better not have started without me

 

Tim, 4:32 pm:

duh of course we did

 

Bruce smiled to himself, following her down to the kitchen.


Wayne Enterprises Launches Organic, Sustainable, Plastic-Free Menstrual Products Line: CEO

Lois Lane 

 

January 4th, 2021

 

In a dramatic change of tone, Wayne Enterprises announced a launch of a new menstrual product line Monday. Surprising investors, CEO Bruce Wayne indicated that a new working group would be dedicated to pursuing sustainable, environmentally-friendly home products. The program launched, in part, thanks to Wayne’s personal experience purchasing menstrual products for his daughter. 

“I really was shocked by what was being put out by menstrual product giants,” Wayne said in an interview with The Daily Planet on Monday afternoon. “I wanted to buy something safe and healthy for my daughter, and, frankly, I’m disappointed that it was so difficult to do so.”

Wayne shared that the WE line of menstrual products feature zero single use plastics, and eliminated several harmful components, such as polyethylene, commonly used by its competitors. 

“People deserve to know what they’re putting in their bodies,” Wayne added, “and they should be able to find out how that’s affecting the environment.” 

Initial reactions to the line’s release were largely positive, quelling investors’ fears as WE stock surged Monday morning with news of the release. WE’s line, dubbed “Steph’s”, can be found at any major retailer starting Friday.