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The First Night

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Putting it lightly, Duke hated mornings. He, like any average 17-year-old, preferred to sleep in on weekends and stay up all night. This was of course not helped by most of his nights being spent leaping from rooftop to rooftop, fighting off masked villains in one of the most crime-ridden cities in the world. Duke liked to retire to his bed after a long night of patrol and preferably not get up until the next afternoon, and his new siblings generally understood that! Dick and Tim had both been sleepy, overworked teenagers, and Jason and Cass could at least get it, even if Jason had all but skipped his teenage years and Cass had been an assassin for most of her life.

The issue, of course, was Damian. Because Damian had not only also been an assassin, but he’d only recently turned thirteen and ergo still had energy to spare, along with a general sense of arrogance that apparently removed his ability to feel any sense of empathy whenever he wanted something. Damian, who had so rudely interrupted Duke’s nice quiet sleep long before it was set to end by bringing Titus into the older boy’s room and allowed him to leap on his new brother and drool all over him. This was, of course, compounded by a loud yell of “Thomas! Time to get up!”

Duke jerked in his bed for a second in an attempt to get the large, slobbery dog off him. “Damian!” he yelled as he sat up and therefore forced Titus off his bed. “What the hell, dude!” The older boy’s gaze jerked to his clock, which read ten am. He immediately turned back over, mumbling, “Wake me up in, like, six hours.”

“Oh, no you don’t,” Damian replied, tugging on Duke’s arm to flip him back over and hopefully pull him out of bed. “It’s going to be the first night of Hannukah tonight, and everyone’s getting ready already. So you have to be up and moving so we can get the mansion ready, because Aunt Kane is coming over and Father insists we have to look nice for her.” He tugged harder until Duke finally relented and moved to get up.

Duke yawned, rubbing his eyes as he stood up, moving to his closet to grab some pants. He figured he could at least get away with wearing the yellow shirt and boxers he’d slept in. “Kate’s seen me pretty much gutted, and probably seen Bruce worse. Why do we gotta get all fancy for her?” He slid on a pair of jeans, grabbing a belt to wrap around his waist as he spoke. “And where’s Alfred?”

“Because Hannukah’s special to Aunt Kane, that’s why. And what with her father being an international fugitive, Father wants us to make this Hannukah even more special.” Damian sat down on his brother’s bed, Titus jumping up to join him. The small boy rubbing his dog’s ears idly. “And Father always gives Alfred time off for Hannukah to go back to Britain and see his family. He says he likes to spend time with us for the holidays. I’m not sure if I believe him, but he is consistent.”

Duke gave a non-committal shrug. “Yeah, well, that’s Bruce for you.” He stretched his arms behind his back, cracking his shoulders and wincing from a nasty bruise left by some thug a few nights before. He could smell frying oil somewhere in the manor now that he was more awake, and his stomach rumbled. “Come on, you eat breakfast yet?”

“Yes, at six.”

Duke couldn’t help but groan at the thought of getting up that early.

 Duke strolled into the kitchen (with Damian and Titus in tow) to the smells of popping oil and the sight of Bruce in an apron as he held a frying pan on the stove as Jason worked on another dish. He mused internally that he’d never seen Bruce actually cook for himself before, but it wasn’t a surprise, given all of his adoptive father’s other skills. Duke did at least know that Jason liked to cook - one of the few tidbits he’d found out about the one Wayne child who didn’t regularly stay in the Manor.

“Smells good,” Duke said, checking the cupboards as he searched through a veritable archive of cereal for some Frosted Flakes. As he pulled out the blue box, he looked over to where Bruce was taking out small brown disks from the oil and laying them on a sheet. “What are they?”

“Latkes,” Bruce responded, attention focused on the pan, in which Duke could see that there were four more of the disks cooking. At a silent, questioning glance from his newest child, Bruce added, “Potato pancakes, like hash browns. Go on, try one. It’s basically tradition to steal them as they’re cooking. Lord knows I basically learned how to sneak up on Alfred just to grab them when I was young.” Titus decided to settle at Bruce’s feet, curling up against the Wayne patriarch as he cooked.

Duke shrugged and popped one into his mouth. His eyes lit up. They were just the right level of crispiness around, with an oily middle that was almost french fry-like in texture. He could taste some shallots in there as well, and it was all well-salted. If he had been raised with worse manners, he’d probably start scooping them off the tray, all told.

Speaking of worse manners, Jason leaned over and grabbed one as well, biting down on it with a smug smirk. “I think he likes them,” the Red Hood grinned, poking Duke in the nose. It earned him a slap across the hand, but he just kept smiling and turned back to cooking. “Wait until you try this brisket, Narrows. I think I’m finally gonna be able to put Alfred to shame.”

“As if,” Damian scoffed as he pulled himself up onto the counter. “Everyone knows that we only compliment your cooking to prevent you from shooting us, Todd.”

“Good joke, brat, but that’s not what you say when you’re forced to stay with me because you get boo-boos,” Jason shot back as he carefully seasoned the slab of beef he had in a steel roasting pan. He didn’t measure out the spices, seemingly working from memory on the dish. “It’s always, ‘oh Todd, I wish I could eat your food more’, or ‘oh Todd, the Teen Titans want you as our executive chef-’” He paused to carefully lean his head to the side in order to dodge a knife thrown by Damian that embedded itself in the wall by his head. “You missed.”

Damian’s retort was cut off by a “Damian, no killing Jason before he’s done cooking,” from Bruce, but Duke decided that rather than risk being stabbed by his two most contemptuous siblings, he’d wander out to the living room with his bowl of cereal, where he found Cass and Tim. The former was lying on her back on the couch, watching The Food Network on their TV, Alfred the cat carefully curled on top of her stomach, while the latter was hanging up decorations, pinning blue paper stars and snowflakes above the fireplace.

Duke plopped down next to his sister, causing her to loop up and shift her body up so that her head lay in his lap as she contentedly stroked the cat in her lap. “Morning,” she smiled. He stroked her hair in turn and smiled down at her. Of the kids running around Wayne Manor, Cass had surprised Duke the most by how gentle and quite frankly snuggly she was, a sharp contrast from the clips he’d seen of her in full crime-fighting action. Alfred the cat, meanwhile, mewled gently as his own form of greeting, and Duke’s hand joined Cass in scratching his fur for a few seconds.

“You know, you two could help me,” Tim commented as he moved on to the walls, pulling out more decorations from a bin. They were the kind of cheap, glossy, paper-tin decorations that anyone could buy from a drug store, and were probably mostly there because Bruce had demanded something be put up, as far as Duke could figure.

Duke and Cass, for their own part, just looked at each other, then at their brother, simply to say “Nah” at the same time, before they broke out laughing. Duke even spooned a bit of cereal into his mouth and almost lost it to his snorts of laughter.

“Fat lot of help you are,” Tim muttered as he stretched to try and place the next string of paper, a whole bunch of cutouts of dreidels, as high up as he could...which, for the third-shortest member of the Wayne family, was not very high. “Where’s Dick when you need him?”

“Right here, Tim!” a voice called out from the hall with sitcom-like timing, to the point where Duke could practically hear a laugh track. But that was where the laughs stopped, as Dick strolled in holding a glass of milk and wearing the single ugliest sweater Duke had ever seen. It was bright pale yellow with blue borders and covered in Menorahs, zig-zag lines, the word “Hannukah”, Stars of David, and dreidels. Not only that, but it wasn’t even a full sweater, buttoning only at the bottom third. Below it, Duke could see a shirt saying “Happy Llamakkah”, complete with a picture of a Llama in a kippot. Duke had fought the likes of Amygdala, Two-Face, and Victor Zsasz, but he could safely say that the sheer horror of what his eldest brother was wearing could kill a man. As such, there was only one thing that could escape his lips.

“Dude, what the fuck.”

Dick’s smile was blinding. “Oh, the sweater? It’s great, isn’t it? Just my colors, too!” He strolled over and sat down on the couch perpendicular to them around the coffee table, folding one leg over the other and leaning back, forgetting Tim’s plea. The Red Robin clearly considered protesting, but ultimately decided to just pin the damn decoration at his average height and join his older brother on the couch.

“He wears this and others like it every year for every damn day of the holiday,” Tim said, picking at Dick’s sweater which only caused the first Robin to raise his eyebrow bemusedly. “They're the only things he owns that look worse than his first outfit as Nightwing.”

Dick laughed at that while Duke just stared at him. “It’s all in the holiday spirit, Tim!” He wrapped his arm around his younger brother’s shoulder and reached over to noogie him, causing the smaller boy to whine in protest. “I just like to lighten everyone’s mood.”

Duke snorted. “And sear out our eyeballs.” He leaned back against the back of the couch, taking another spoonful of cereal. Cass muted the TV. “So,” Duke began. “You guys do this every year?”

“Yeah,” Dick said, then paused as he pursed his lips like a man trying to suck a piece of corn out of one of his molars. “Well, I guess since the first year that I lived here. Didn’t seem like Bruce celebrated much before that, now that I think about it.” He sipped his milk thoughtfully.

“Story time?” Cass asked, sitting up from Duke’s lap and staring her eldest brother in the eyes. Alfred the cat made some attempt to sit up and stretch, but she stilled the animal with some gentle petting.

“Alright,” Dick chuckled, leaning forward and taking another sip of his milk. “So, when Bruce first took me in, it was the middle of summer, so we really didn’t talk about religion or holidays much. So of course December inevitably rolls around, and being a little kid who’d been raised in a pretty Jewish group, I automatically assumed Bruce would be Jewish too. So on the morning of the first night, I wake him up by jumping on his bed,” he mimed the action by bouncing his hand up and down, “and it was the first time I’d ever been up before him, too. So of course he’s naturally on guard, being all ‘Dick, what is it, are you okay’, yadda yadda. And I go ‘It’s gonna be the first night of Hannukah, we gotta get ready!” And Bruce looks at me, you know, giving that deep stare, the one he always uses when he’s studying one of the Riddler’s games.” Dick mimicked the look, eyebrows scrunched, eyes narrowed, a slight frown and tilt to the head. It was close enough to get a snort and a nod from the siblings surrounding him. “And I start to think to myself, ‘crud, I must’ve gotten it wrong, Mr. Wayne must be Christian or something, maybe he doesn’t even know what a Jewish person is’, but then...then he let out that soft laugh he does. You know, the kind he does when he’s actually happy. And his gaze softens, and he goes ‘Sure.’ And I kinda realize now that before then, well, I don’t think he had had a Hannukah dinner since the last one he had before his parents died. But as our family’s gotten bigger I’ve made sure that we keep having Hannukah, and Passover if nothing big’s going down that time of year. Helped that Jason hadn’t really celebrated anything before us, though.”

With the story done, Duke coughed. “Wow, that’s pretty amazing. I mean, I guess to me, Christmas was always a given, even when my parents were pretty busy.” He fiddled with his hands until Cass inevitably passed the cat over to him so that he could focus on petting it. “We had some nice Jewish neighbors for a bit who’d invite us over one of the nights, but I was too young to really get it before they moved, y’know?’

Tim shrugged. “Yeah. I mean, I never experienced Hannukah before I moved in, and don’t worry, we do usually have a Christmas gala, Bruce just likes this more personal family time. But for all the years I’ve been here, I mean, I get it. Going from an only child to a family of six, especially one this disjointed, well...being able to sit around a table and eat good food is at least a nice relaxing event, especially this time of year.”

Cass hummed thoughtfully. “Didn’t celebrate. Hannukah was my first.” The rest of the group didn’t need to ask why. She shrugged and grabbed the remote to flip through channels, eventually landing on a showing of one of the Harry Potter movies.

The sibling sat through the next hour and a half or so of the film in relative silence, the only noises being Tim’s occasional comment on what they changed from the books and the clicking of Duke’s phone as he played some game, his bowl of cereal long finished. Cass somehow turned around and stretched out so that she was basically at a right angle, feet idly kicking Duke’s legs and head in Dick’s lap. Alfred the cat purred softly as Duke kept petting him until he eventually fell asleep.

Ace wandered in after a while, the elder of the family’s two dogs letting out a large bark which shook them a second from their sleepy daze. Tim yawned and stretched, then patted his belly as it rumbled. “I’m hungry,” he said. “What time is it?”

Duke checked his phone, feeling ready to eat again as well. “Half past one. Where are we gonna get food? I imagine the kitchen is probably pretty busy still, especially since Damian hasn’t joined us.”

Dick shrugged, standing up and stretching his arms out wide. Cass whined as her head plopped onto the couch where he’d sat. “Selina went out earlier to pick up her last minute gifts. I can text her to grab us some sandwiches or something.”

At the mention of the word ‘gifts’, Duke barely resisted leaping to his feet, only stopping due to the cat in his lap. “Shit!” he exclaimed. At the others’ surprised expressions, he added, “I didn’t know it was a holiday, I haven’t bought your presents yet.” His face flushed with embarrassment.

Dick laughed it off, however. “No worries, kiddo. Eight nights, you’ve got more than enough time, and I’m sure everyone understands. Besides, technically speaking, the original story of Hannukah didn’t even have gifts. Just the eight nights of oil.”

Duke calmed down at that a bit, and felt his shoulders untense. “Alright, so sandwiches?” He let Alfred the cat down from his lap, the cat wandering out.

Cass nodded. “Sandwiches.” She pulled herself up to her feet and took out her phone, texting into the family group chat. They all felt their phones buzz with a message asking Selina if she’d pick them up some food, and once she replied, they in turn told her what they wanted, before settling down to wait.

 A half hour later, their soon-to-be stepmother showed up at the door, pulling them, along with Bruce, Jason, and Damian into the smaller, less formal dining room. “Two ‘garden’ sandwiches for me and Damian, two roast beefs for Jason and Tim, a caprese for Cassandra, and three turkey clubs for Bruce, Duke, and Dick,” she smiled as she pulled all the sandwiches out of the large brown bag the deli had given her.

They also settled in, munching on their food as their sat around the small square table. Ace and Titus prowled underneath them, looking vainly for any scraps that might have dropped from their plates. Duke noted that Jason and Bruce annoyingly smelled like the food they’d been slaving over all day, though Bruce had been kind enough to save a latke for each of them to go with their sandwiches. It was just as delicious as when Duke had first tried it, and from the way everyone else’s faces lit up when they bit into theirs, he figured they all felt the same way.

“So, how have your days been?” Selina asked. It’d admittedly been a rocky start to her engagement with Bruce, but given that she was a perfectly amiable person under her mask, as well as one of the few people who truly made Bruce smile often, the children had realized that their prejudices were really for naught. It helped, of course, that they only saw her so often at the moment as she worked on moving out of her apartment and they had their own lives to deal with.

“Good,” Cass replied, munching on her sandwich and sipping at a bottle of water. Another interesting tidbit Duke had learned - Cassandra had an insatiable appetite. Of the group, her sandwich was the only extra large one. “Watched Harry Potter.”

“Oh really?” Selina asked. “You know, I read the books, but I never really got a chance to see all the movies.” She nibbled at her sandwich delicately, a sharp contrast from the munch and crunch the rest of the family displayed.

“Well,” Tim began, and Duke rolled his eyes along with everyone else in the room as they prepared for a long rant. “The movies get numerous things wrong. Like for example, Hermione’s hair should be a naturally curlier, not just curled with an iron. And-” He was silenced, fortunately for everyone around, by Damian picking out a piece of lettuce from his own sandwich and tossing it expertly in Tim’s mouth as he spoke, causing Tim to choke for a brief second.

“What?” Damian responded to Bruce and Dick’s unamused stares. “Drake was beginning to bore me.”

“Sometimes I wonder why I bother,” Dick muttered as he turned back to his sandwich. “How’s dinner shaping up, anyways?”

Jason smiled, a wolfish, supervillain-y grin that practically sent the hairs on the back of Duke’s neck standing straight up. “I think I’ve worked out the perfect brisket recipe to knock Alfred outta the ring finally, Dickie. And my carrots ain’t lookin’ too shabby either.” He leaned back, far enough that Duke wondered if he was gonna fall over, and finished off his latke.

“Maybe if you get good enough, you can drop the guns and just use your food to end crime in Gotham,” Duke suggested jokingly. He drank his can of Sprite and watched as Jason gave another grin.

“Who says I haven’t already lured over a crime boss or two with my great cooking, Narrows? Some might say my food’s pretty killer.”

Bruce mumbled a half-hearted “Watch it,” and Jason’s face soured slightly. But the patriarch of the family was distracted by Selina taking his hand and rolling her thumb over each knuckle before kissing him. Duke intentionally averted his eyes, and was sure the others did the same. Even if they were used to having Selina around now, there was a snowball’s chance in hell that they’d ever want to watch the ex-criminal snog their father.

Bruce pulled away from the kiss and coughed awkwardly. “With Alfred out of town, Damian, you and someone else should probably go out and take care of the cow. Kate shouldn’t be here until around 5:30, so you’ve got a few hours before you’ve all got to shower and change into something nice.”

Damian stood up at that to throw his napkins and what not in the trash, having finished his sandwich and bottle of water. Dick joined him, and the current Robin looked up at the first. “Grayson, would you like to join me?”

Dick smiled. “I dunno, what’s the magic word?”

“Join me and I won’t send Starfire those humiliating photos of you from Ms. Gordon’s birthday party.”

Dick’s face paled. “Dammit, you’ve got me there. God, I wish I knew how to blackmail like that when I was your age.” He poured his gaze over the table, finally settling on his newest brother, and his face lit up like Duke’s costume on a sunny day. “Hey Duke, wanna go see the cow?”

Duke shrugged, finishing off his sandwich. “Sure, I’ve got nothing else to do for the next two hours. Anyone else?”

Cass made a non-committal hand gesture. “Gonna train.” Tim nodded, indicating that he’d join her, and they stood up as well, throwing their own napkins in the trash as they headed for the cave.

Selina smiled over the rim of her iced tea. “Sorry, darlings, but I think I’ll stay here and help set the table and help Bruce and Jason cook.” She waved her hand, and Duke was reminded all too much of the felines she had styled herself after.

“Alright, let’s go then,” Duke followed his eldest and younger brother out, casually tossing the remnants of his food in the garbage as he went, leaving Selina, Bruce, and Jason behind to clean up after themselves and get back to cooking.

 The cow, it turned out, lived in a very small barnhouse behind the main manor. A fairly obvious location in retrospect, Duke thought, but given all the space in front of the mansion, he’d never really had any reason to go behind it. The barnhouse was stocked with feed and animal cleaning materials, as well as extra beds for the other three animals, plus a costume Bruce kept around presumably for when he needed Ace on missions. For what was not the first time, The Signal found himself wondering just how over-prepared the Batman was.

All Duke and Dick really had to do was carry the hay and grain for the cow to eat, as the hay bales were too large for Damian. In turn, Damian filled the water trough and checked over the cow’s body for any signs of injury or illness. Duke was amused to see the little mask shaped markings over the cow’s eyes, and resisted asking if it had ever been used on a mission. He figured even that would be a bit too far for the family.

Well, he figured. Turned out he was wrong, much to his sheer shock, as Damian told of the cow’s exploits while he worked. The cow’s innate strength had in fact managed to stop some petnappers whilst working with Ace and Superboy’s dog, Krypto. Who would’ve thought.

The three boys sat out on some of the remaining hay bales, as they watched the afternoon slowly but surely slip into evening. Dick stuck a piece of hay in his mouth in a cheesy attempt to look like a cowboy before spitting it out in disgust, earning a laugh from his brothers. Damian pulled the cow close to him, holding it with a lead as he stroked its soft hair.

Dick and Damian told stories, Dick regaling an account of the ex-supervillain support group he was working with’s attempts to raise money, Damian telling a tale of the Teen Titans on a misadventure through the streets of San Francisco. When the two finished, Duke shrugged.

“Wonder if I’m gonna ever get a team or something,” he mused.

Dick laughed, “Believe me, it’s only a matter of time with this family. It took Jason longest, but for the kids of someone who ‘works alone’, we’re pretty prone to getting suckered into groups. Hell, ask Bruce how many times he’s split off his own teams from the League because he was having a tiff with Clark.” The eldest boy rolled a piece of hay between his fingers, sunlight playing across his smile.

Duke nodded, then pursed his lips. “Speaking of...Bruce and Superman- are they-”

Dick started cackling while Damian groaned and rolled over on his back. “Don’t start.”

“It just seems like-”

“Thomas, I swear to god, I will empty Alfred’s litterbox in your bed.”

“I mean, watching TV, it was one thing, but now living with Bruce and with Superman stopping by once in a while-”

“Thomas. I’m serious.”

Dick managed to calm down, sucking in some deep breaths that distracted his brothers and prompted a “you okay?” from Duke. He nodded, coughing. A chuckle still prevailed at the edges of his voice when he finally managed to find the words to speak. “Bruce and I have known Clark for eight years. I still have no idea, but I’m betting yes. And to answer your next question, I figure Selina is completely fine with it.”

Duke sat back on his his shoulder blades, looking at the purple and pink that played across the sky as it faded to sunset. “Huh. Good for them, I guess.”

Damian groaned again as the cow nuzzled up against his face. “I don’t like it. Father can do better. And don’t get me started on Kent’s son. You haven’t met him yet, but he rivals Drake for the definition of annoying.” He wrapped his arms around the cow’s neck to bring it in closer.

Dick smiled. “Not what you said when you told me about that base Bruce and Clark got you.”

Damian groaned a third time. “Quiet, you.”

Before they could keep arguing, their phones buzzed universally. Checking it, they found that Cass had used the family group chat to text them. Kate’s coming early. Get dressed.

The boys dusted themselves off, stood up, and headed into the house.

 The shower was a good refreshment after the long, lazy day, and Duke quickly threw on some decent slacks, a nice, light yellow button-up (a much softer shade than his uniform), and some dress shoes, though he winced at the tightness of the heels and made a note to ask Bruce later if they could go shoe-shopping. He strolled out into the living room to find his family already seated around the couches, the adults enjoying some wine.

Kate had shown up while he was showering. She was dressed in a long black dress with a lace piece around her neck. Her pale skin contrasted as usual against her bright red hair, and Duke found himself wondering not for the first time if it was dyed or natural. She hugged him and kissed his cheeks in greeting. “Chag sameach,” she smiled softly.

“Chag sameach,” he replied. The words felt strange in his mouth, but her smile at least showed that he’d pronounced it correctly. He took a seat next to Bruce, who was dressed in a nice black shirt and similar slacks to his own.

His adopted father smiled brightly and hugged him around the shoulders. “Happy Hannukah, Duke,” he said, and Duke could swear he’d never seen Bruce this happy. “I was just telling Kate about that case you and I were on last week, the Zeus one.”

Duke grinned, remembering the case. Maxie Zeus had been released from Arkham, but rumor had it he was running arms sales to try and rebuild his criminal empire once more. Working in tandem, Bruce and Duke had tracked him down to an old warehouse in Gotham’s harbor - the safe spot for any crook, Duke had put it. “Did you get to the part where he thought I was-” Duke began, but Bruce cut him off with a nod.

“Not quite yet,” Bruce began. “So my bet that he was operating out of the old Poseidon Freighters dock had paid off, and me and Duke were standing on the skylights, trying to figure out a best angle of attack.” He gestured to Duke, who took the lead.

“I said to Bruce, ‘dude thinks he controls storms, right?’ So I thought to myself, let’s give him a storm he can’t control. I switch my chest speakers to the sound of a thunderclap,” Duke clapped for effect, “and kicked down the skylight. Maxie thought I was a lightning bolt!” The family laughed heartily at that.

Jason leaned back and folded his hands behind his head. “I always told you your costume was shocking, Narrows.”

Tim’s eyebrows raised in turn as he sipped at a mug of coffee. “Says the guy who designed my first Red Robin costume. Do you know how many ‘Dr. Mid-Nite’ comments I got, dude?”

“Eh, you deserved to look like a dork.”

Before the arguments could continue, Bruce stood. “I think it’s time to light the candles. Come, let’s head into the dining hall.” He turned to leave, and the others followed, though Tim stopped Duke to hand him a slip of paper.

He narrowed his eyes as he read the unfamiliar words on it. “What’s this?”

“The prayers,” Tim said, shrugging. “You’re the new kid. When we light the candles first night, newest kid always says them.” He left for the dining hall and Duke stared at the paper for a second longer before following.

On the table in the dining hall was an ornate Menorah that stood on a sheet of foil, two candles placed in it, one in the center and another on the left-most stem. It was golden and each stem curled in the middle, the base decorated with carvings of flowers and fruit. It was breathtakingly beautiful, and Duke drew in a deep breath as it brought out an emotion in him he wasn’t sure he could name. Bruce smiled at him, and handed him a lit match. “You light the middle one first, then use it to light the first one,” the older man explained, and Duke’s breath caught in his throat.

Duke held the paper Tim had given him in one hand, carefully lighting the middle candle as he read out loud.

“Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tsivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hannukkah.”

Behind him, his family followed suit with what he figured to be the translation.

“Praised are You,

Our God, Ruler of the universe,

Who made us holy through Your commandments

and commanded us

to kindle the Hannukah lights.”

He blew out the match and took the middle candle in hand, guiding it in turn to the first candle as he read once more.

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, she-asah nisim la’avoteinu bayamim hahem bazman hazeh.”

Behind him, his family followed suit once more.

“Praised are You,

Our God, Ruler of the universe,

Who performed wondrous deeds for our ancestors

in those ancient days

at this season.”

Duke put the middle candle back when the first one was lit, and read the final prayer.

“Baruch atah adonai elohenu melech ha’olam, shehecheyanu, v’kiyimanu, v’higiyanu la’zman hazeh.”

Behind him, his family followed suit for the final time.

“Praised are You,

Our God, Ruler of the universe,

Who has given us life and sustained us and enabled us to reach this season.”

“Let’s eat,” Cass spoke. Jason and Bruce hurried to the kitchen, bringing out latkes, brisket, honey-roasted carrots, and other delicious foods The smells lit up Duke’s nose and the family encircled the table. As Damian and Jason argued over whether Jason’s cooking was better than Alfred’s, as Selina and Bruce shared a tender kiss, as Kate and Tim laughed about something that had happened at the Belfry, as Dick and Cass fought over the best looking latke, Duke ate quietly and realized something.

This was his home now. And what an amazing home it was.