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Take a Sad Song and Make it Better

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Day 1 - Cuddles = Movie Night or any other situation that others can take advantage of.


 This is how it should be.

At least that’s how Dick feels as he watches the scene. Not the one on the screen because honestly? What’s going on in front of it is much more entertaining and it touches Dick’s heart.

Damian is engaging popcorn warfare with Tim, the older boy is giving a relentless return of kernels right back. Here and there popcorn hits the furniture or lands in Dick’s hair and he swears he’s about to cry...in sheer joy.

Because they’re in the same room willingly with each other.

One piece smacks Jason in the forehead and he roars to tackle Tim because of course the replacement must be the perpetrator.

“Come on Jason! It was the gremlin, not me!” Tim’s protests, the said gremlin snickering with relish, but Jason’s not satisfied until he grinds Tim’s face into the sofa for three solid minutes. Then he turns on Damian.

Damian was sniggering. He’s not sniggering anymore. Especially not when Jason smirks, raises the gigantic bowl of popcorn–

“Do not dare, Todd.”

–and dumps it all over Damian’s head. There’s a moment where the boy just sits there in shock, kennels raining from his dark hair and into his shirt. Then a piercing battle cry and Damian attacks. He launches his body at Jason. The two lose their balance to veer sideways, falling towards Tim, who was just in the process of getting up, dang it. The poor guy halfway up on his forearms, his eyes so wide as he helpless watches the shadow over him grow as they crash on right on top of him.

It’s so beautiful.

There’s a loud noisy sip. Dick turns his head to Bruce on the armchair, the man casually lounging on his throne, mug in hand. It’s chipped with the faded print, “Because I’m Batman,” written on the front.

“Ah! My eye!”

“Why you little brat!”

“You uncouth corpse, return to your grave, you cretin–”

“Should we stop them?” Dick asks wagging his eyebrows. There are hisses, roars and other exclamations of attempted murder.

Bruce just takes another drinks more of his coffee. He notes the implementation of grappling styles, how there’s no sharp kicks from Tim, no brutal punches from Jason, no bites from Damian. The beast with many heads rolls over the carpet, but no one is king of the mountain for long. “No. they’ll get tired of it...eventually. But Alfred is going to be annoyed if the T.V. gets broken again.”

“On it, Batman!” Dick says with cheer. He rises from his seat and deadfalls onto the squirming fray. There’s a loud oomph and suddenly the game has changed. Instead of ‘how many times can you elbow your neighbor’s ribs before they crack’ with the new addition of one Dick Grayson, its ‘get away, get away before it’s too late.’  There are failing limbs, attempts to crawl away, but the former Robin, the first, is too flexible with too many working arms and legs.

It’s already too late.

“Grayson, I demand you release me immediately.” Damian’s voice chokes into a whine, “Your weight from disgusting intake of unhealthy breakfast foods is crushing us. I believe the term is get off. Get off.”

He paws, claws at the arm around his neck, the one that forces his head down and traps it against Dick’s chest.

“Nope. And for that fat reference?” Dick lets his entire body go slack, his full weight completely on top of the pile.

There’s a mutual groan of anguish and Jason is at the bottom absolutely miserable. “Come on Dick, lemme up, don’t be a dick.” Somehow he’s on the bottom of it all bearing the worst, sure Damian still putting up the good fight, atta boy, but that’s the third time he’s kneed Jay in the kidneys.  Dammit. Against his collar, Tim mumbles something incoherent. Jay shoves at his shoulder with the hand that isn’t pinned down. “What was that, Replacement?"

Tim’s face is smashed into Jay’s stupid jacket. He turns his head to the right and coughs. He’s the only one in the mess of tangled limbs that isn’t moving. Instead like a dead, limp fish he lies there absolutely resigned and says, “I said it’s useless to struggle. We’re trapped. Doomed. Take your pick because the end is here and he will never stop. He will never let go.” The words are a pitiful thing that only becomes more pathetic as Dick starts to cackle.

Bruce watches the whole thing fondly, and the boys hear the electronic snap of a phone. It’s a good photo. He’ll have to share with Alfred later.

“Would the young masters care for more popcorn? Or is more sustenance unnecessary?”

Speak of the devil.

Bruce takes in the state of the room. The way white popcorn has been rubbed into the carpet. The vast array of empty sodas and half-eaten candy bars littering the ground.

“No, that will be all, Alfred. Thank you.”

“Of course, Master Bruce.” The butler bows, “It is good to see the family enjoy a pleasant evening together.

Every Robin besides Dick makes a loud protest over how bullshit that line is...along with extreme cries for help and possible bribes if the old man would just give them a hand.

Their pleas fall on deaf ears.

Dick sighs in complete happiness.

He can’t wait for their struggles to subside and die down. Where eventually they’ll exhaust themselves to sleep among the chip bags and grease. Where four o’clock will strike and Bruce will stop watching infomercials to throw a blanket over the dogpile, his fingers gently patting each of his sons’ heads. Where their forms will finally relax, soften until they’ll lay side by side with Dick still sprawled on top like one giant protective starfish.

But they’ll be clutching him too. Clutching him back and he can prove it.

There’s plenty of photo evidence.

So bless movie nights.

Bless them.

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Chapter Text

 Day 2 - Sick = Batfam member being taken care of or attacked by an army of motherhens.


 “I hate you.”

“I hate you more.”

“But I hate you little shits most,” Jay says, shouldering the guest bedroom door open roughly,  He slams the tray of soup and crackers on the bedside table between the two coughing, sniffing invalids. “Honestly, what kind of dumb fuck takes a swim in the dead of winter?”

“Screw you, Jason. I wouldn’t call being chained and thrown into the harbor a leisurely swim.” Tim says venomously. But unfortunately, he doesn’t look much of a threat when his lap is blanketed in white tissues. In fact, there might not even be a single space of the bedspread left not covered in the clumped wet balls.

It had been cold. So cold when the thugs shoved them off the boat. The water slammed against their chests like ice. Tim managed to get one breath in before the harbor creeps over his domino mask, his hair and to sucks them under. Tim has five minutes. He can hold his breath for five minutes. Has Damian been trained? How long—

Jay raises both his eyebrows, “Excuse me? This is the thanks I get? I slave all day in the kitchen for yer bony asses and instead of a single thank you, it’s screw you? Ouch, Babybird.” His hands motion grandly to the food tray.

“Must you poison us too, Hood?” Damian stares at the bowls with suspicion. “Have we not suffered enough as it is?”

The infidels had been clumsy, roughly chaining them back to back. A shoddy job. It should have provided loopholes, space from hurried mistakes, but alas they focused enough on limiting the use of their hands. The gang yelled when a new pair of black boots landed on the insufficient sailboat’s deck. The foolish men must have thrown them over as a hopeful distraction for the Bat. But as the metal links dig into Damian’s arms, quickly turning the same temperature as the bay, he knows they were wrong.

“Now why would I do that.” Jay crosses his arms over his chest, looming over first Dami and then Tim. “That’s a waste of food. If I want ya to die, I’d just shoot ya in the head. Save Alfred a grocery trip.”

“Thanks, Jay,” Tim says sarcastically.

“Aw shucks, yer welcome.”

Tim doesn’t bother kicking towards the surface yet. They tossed them in the shallows, this group doesn’t usually care about the efficiency of a kill but the fun of it. From reports, he knows the game is to cruelly toss victims in water only a few feet deeper than their prey. Giving an illusion of hope when they kick, hop, jump from the river bed. Only for them gasp and be helplessly pushed back down by oars or hands. The sadistic game can last for hours...until their playtoy finally loses strength or gives up.

He opens his eyes in the filth of the bay and peers around looking, looking...there!

Steam flows up from the bowls, the aroma quickly fills the room. Tim takes a deep breath, the smell tempting him, while a stomach gives a quiet rumble in the next bed. When neither boy makes a move towards Jason’s generous sacrifice, Jason shifts his weight to his hip and taps his foot with a scowl.

Damn it, he knows his cooking is legit, man.

“What? Wouldja like it to be Dick’s cooking instead?” Both bedridden boys look over to each other for a second, then to Jason, to the tray and back again. Then Tim and Damian frantically struggle as one to escape the sheets to get to the bowls first. “Yeah. That’s what I thought.”

The tension in Jason’s limbs, like they’d notice pffftt, finally eases as the bowls barely stay full for a minute. The moment they’re empty, he gives them a second helping and glares at Tim when he wrinkles his nose at the dish. “This is no time to eat like a bird, princess.”

“But I don’t need–”

“Don’t need nothing, ya need to give yer body the good stuff to fight. And ain’t ya lucky Dick’s off planet? He’d give ya the worst puppy eyes and be all over ya, both of ya for that shitty attitude.”

Damian and Tim shudder. Dick has always won the worst Motherhen award. Always. (Alfred is the sneakiest though.)

Damian puts his spoon down. He is...content, how odd. “I suppose that is a fair point. What I do not understand is how the two of us could be put in the same room, in a mansion such as this, forced to accept each other’s presence against our will during recovery.”

Damian conserves his energy the best he can. Watching the bubbles that escape him, minding his surroundings as his ears go numb. Their bodies jerk against the current as Drake suddenly drags them in the direction of his choosing. His slight height and longer legs give a mild advantage, but Damian does not hinder or fight Drake at a time such as this. Surely Drake has a purpose, a plan if he is as clever as Grayson has repeatedly claimed. He walks carefully backward, mindful not to trip on the debris and garbage littered on the harbor bottom. If they lose their balance, escaping to the surface will be more...difficult. His heel hits something hard and he twists to the best of his ability around Drake, a car!

“Alfred’s orders. He said it’s the perfect way to condense care and meet yer needs more efficiently. The man plays the best vindictive shtick if ya know what I mean.”

“It’s the spite. He needs it to stay alive and old.” Tim adds. He sets his bowl on the tray with a sharp clink.

Two minutes. The old beetle is brown with rust, one broken door floating on its hinges. It’s just what they need, Tim hauls them on the roof of the vehicle and stands on his tiptoes. His head breaks the surface of the water and he takes a greedy gulp of air. Smog has never tasted so sweet.

Then he feels the body lashed to his struggle and squirm violently.

“Robin? What are you–” And he notices it. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees the top of Damian’s head, his wet dark spikes. But that’s it. His face is still submerged.

Fuck.

No. Tim bites his lip, tearing it and moves his arms under the chains for any wiggle room. He sucks in his ribs, not on his watch. Not another Robin dying on his watch. He pulls the boy up an itch up his body, two...and leans over. He hears a wonderful, desperate gasp before his head goes back in the water. Good. That’s fine. He can stay under.

Besides Tim’s got another five minutes.

On the bed somewhere, something buzzes and vibrates. Tim pats the covers awkwardly until he unburies a phone.

It’s 7:30.

He promptly reaches across the bedside table. His fingertips nudging a small orange bottle until it slides and topples over. It rolls closer to the preteen. Success is his. “Meds, Damian. Every four hours remember?”

The younger boy huffs but drops the bottle into his lap, “You as well, Drake. I believe Alfred has synced our medication schedules for this purpose.”

“What purpose?”

“To ensure the other does not conveniently forget.”

“I’ve never done that!”

“I disagree. In fact, shall we pull up the records to call that bluff? I am certain Oracle or Alfred have some sort of accounts on the matter.”

“...No.” Jay guffaws at the cowed expression on Tim’s face. Little do these two know that’s one of his tiny jobs to keep the suckers alive today. Stuff their pills down their throats if necessary. How lucky for them that he just gets to be an extra eye, to watch them like a hawk, to take note of how Damian pops open the bottle and swallow his meds dry. But–

“Drake,” states Damian exasperatedly.

“What?

Jay adds his two cents with a point, “So what about them meds, replacement?”

“Oh.” Tim looks to the side. There’s a long sigh, but finally the asshat puts down his phone to finally get the good drugs in him. Okay, so it’s a bit of a setup. Replacement ain’t got some pills but the fancy stuff since he’s you know, missing an organ. The IV stand almost leans against the wall, it’s needle already burrowed in the back of Tim’s hand. Tim opens the high-end antibodies and carefully feeds it into a tubing of the hanging IV bag. The dying light reflects off the clear fluid. Jay almost considers helping, since Tim lightly curses, his arm stretched awkwardly above him.

Nah. Replacement...no Babybird got’s this. He’ll get all stiff and offended if Jay steps in.

They watch as Tim’s posture goes lax. His eyes narrow in annoyance but soon he’s going to pass out and there’s nothing he can do about it. Gods, he hopes they don’t watch him sleep again.

They do it with this vindictive glee that he could do without.

Damian sniffs, but nods with approval, “Good. It would be ridiculous if you wasted away after what we had to endure in that last venture.”

There are no stars in Gotham’s sky. Not from what he can see being propped up over Drake’s back in this manner. His chest strains as his lungs finally fill. He could do without the idiotic trembles as his body submits to the cold, yet he’s avoided one death and that shall suffice him for now.

“What took you so long, Red Robin? Did you not notice our difference in heights until the last instance. I swear, that you could become any sort of vigilante is beyond me. But be assured, soon Father will finish and rescue us from this silly predicament.”

There is no answer.

“D-Drake?”

Their bodies bob slightly, Damian thinks of how the dead float.

“DRAKE!”

He rocks, flails until under the water his wrist is squeezed tightly. Oh. Drake is not dead...at least not yet. Father, no Grayson would not be pleased over his incompetent predecessor’s possible demise.

So he focuses on the sailboat and screams one word. “BATMAN!”

Jay looks back and forth between the two and smirks. Feelings, these boys are shit at them, but he bets if he put a gun to them, it would be a fight of who leaps in front of the other first. He puts his money on the demon brat, the jumpy monkey. He remembers how Bruce stormed into the cave, one bird in the crook of his arm, the other over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. How he yelled for Jason to prepare the medi-beds and Alfred taking in the pale skin of the two boys went straight for the emergency heaters.

It had been a rush.

A chance of sepsis is not fun. Neither is dealing with hypothermia with the pint-sized preteen. You would think being closer to hell, or his genetics would keep him warm, but no, Jay had to massage the circulation back into those toes so the kid could keep them.

It had been a close shave.

But they’re Bats. Surviving is what they do.

“Well girls, it’s time for a nap,” he pulls out a book. A real one. Like get these shits some real literature, “And I gotcha the best bedtime story, so shut up and listen.”

“I do not require such frivolous–”

“I said shut yer yap before I suffocate ya with a pillow.” He thumbs open the first page, “There we are, ‘It was a pleasure to burn…’”

Tim graciously gives a wet tissue to Damian to lob at Jason. Damian takes the ammo grateful, continues to take it as Jason proceeds to dodge. And be successful at it. His voice melodious and soothing in its own rough way. Over time, it causes Damian’s throws to be more erratic, wide...slow. It causes Tim’s shoulders to sink deeper into the bedding, a different kind of drowning.

“‘We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?'”

Yeah, Jay thinks he could do that. Be the best botherer in the world.

‘Bout time he got started on it.

Chapter Text

Day 3 - Fight = Training or Best Crime Fighting Story 


 Damian knows the league of assassins can be foolish. Where they turn their craft into a gimmick as they take pride in what they do. They want their kills to be known. Where there’s more of a message of fear.

But true assassins? The professional ones? Do not get caught. Do not have a calling card. Their skill is paramount in its simplicity. Where when they hunt, when their marks die, the event seems so natural that there is no other explanation than it was an accident.

One day, Joker’s death will be an accident too.

Damian just has to wait for the right moment for his last assassination to take place. He may be waiting for some time, but he is certain the fiend will never stop giving him opportunities.

Even if it won’t be tonight, not with Father hanging from a hook above them. Watching, yelling something from the gag as he spins slowly from the ceiling. No, it won’t be tonight, not with Batman as the worst possible witness.

But it will come.

At least violence can be so gratifying.

The symphony of broken glass, how his knuckles sting behind the gloves, the way blood runs from a broken nose and the ‘Arghhhh’ from another dumb thug.

“Arghhhhh, why you little shit—“

He wouldn’t trade it for the world.

“Robin, to your left!” Damian veers due to Grayson’s instructions and the older vigilante springs over him. The kick is stunning in delivery. Another clown drops and it’s poetry in motion.

Not that he shall compliment Dick. The man does not need to beam with more praise for his ego. Yet there is a reason why he was Robin to Grayson’s Batman first.

Both are highly skilled in the control of their bodies, raised in it. There is unity in a fight. Damian appreciates the black and white nature of it, the foe versus ally mentality that he cannot, is not allowed to carry in the daylight. He values the arena where his talents, those groomed with years of training can finally be applied. They weave in and out of the fray. Aiming to get closer to the vile stage the Joker has set up this time.

It’s a parody of Joker’s ‘accident.’

The Bat hangs from his wrists over a vat of acid.

“Look Batsy, your brats are here again to ruin our fun makeover! Don’t you think it’s time to clip your birdies’ wings?” The Joker cackles from the metal walkway, pulling out a gun to shoot and shoot even as his thugs rush Robin, Nightwing and–

“Aw ya Bastard, Don’t cha know they grow back?” And Hood shoots the gun out of Joker’s hand. The shot is brilliant. Damian is impressed how instead of mindlessly charging towards the Joker position, he stays to mow down the array of simple clowns with a single, “Get B, I gotcha covered here.”

“On it.” Dick darkly snarls and nods to Damian. They dodge and climb the stairs, focusing on the rescue at hand.   

There’s fifteen on Hood’s plate and ten more on the loft. Nightwing and Robin move as practiced machines. Nightwing’s actions sharper, his hits harder than usual because this is Joker, this is the asshole that just won’t leave his family alone, this the man that just won’t quit–

“Haaaaaaaaarley! Take care of our guests, dear? Batsy needs his bath.” Joker singsongs and a flash of red and white flips before them. Damian hates this kind of hurdle.

“Not another step boys, you’re not getting anywhere near Puddin!’”

Mostly because from what he’s observed, Harley Quinn on her own is benign. Not as vile as the man higher up the metal railing. Not when she has been shaped in abuse…a similar way to Damian. He scowls at the comparison.

Also because Joker is a coward with no real physical prowess of his own and must use pawns to suit his needs.

What a filthy spider. Relishing and only attacking helpless prey.

“Move aside, Harley.” Nightwing raises his escrima sticks in warning.

Her lips pop in a simple, “Nope. Nada.” And swings her hammer to slam on the walkway, it shakes with impact.

“Robin. Go on ahead. I’ll be there in a minute.” Robin nods and they rush the woman. Dick taking the brunt of the next blow so Damian can deck under her arm.

“Get back here, shortie!”

“Your fight’s with me, now don’t ditch our dance.” Nightwing punches her solid in the face.

“Oh, but I don’t think this is our song, toots.”

The two face off. It’s a good match. After all, nothing drives a person harder than love, and Dick Grayson and Harley both love too much.  

Damian’s boot ring and Joker lifts his head from the hook’s controls. A sick giggle stopping abruptly at the interruption. He makes an exaggerated frown, “Now isn’t it time for good little boys to be in bed?”

“I’m not little.” Damian hisses. He throws a batarang and Joker dances to the side.

“Ha, ha, ha. Really? What are you? 4’5’’? But can’t you let his poor guy play with your old man longer? He’s just so much fun.”

“I fear you’re an inadequate playmate.”

The frown turns into a mask of anger. “Take that back, brat!” The man jumping for Robin. He’s agile, but Robin is much quicker than that. Joker sprays the walkway with gas, but Robin covers his mouth and strikes in the smoke. A thump. Two. Then there is a grunt and next a screech of rage.

Damian doesn’t understand why the Joker is still alive.

Too many risks.

Too many liabilities.

Too many times where he sees Dick freeze at the mention of an Arkham breakout. Of Jason’s eyes burning green. Of days his father will go quiet without a word when the Joker is at large….again.

Still. He, himself is not afraid.

Not of this fool.

He’s not the crazy mastermind that he’s been warned. The villain is not difficult to understand, not to Damian.

The Joker is a simple sadist.

All one needs to do is think of a plot that stings. What could hurt the most and that is the path the clown will take. Every time.

And Damian can use that.

When the gas clears, Damian bends as if there’s a hitch to his side. He places one hand over his ribs and winces. “Had enough buffoon?”

The Joker cannot resist. He licks his lips and grins. His eyes dart up to see if the Bat is watching.

Oh, wouldn’t it be such a lark to share with Batsy? To see another of his kids break?

It’s like a magnet. Like he can’t just walk away, and he should. His dear toys below are already broken by this killjoy lot and if he doesn’t make his getaway now, he won’t get to set up playdates later. But how can he when there’s this delightful wonderful puppy to kick?

“Say goodnight birdie!” The Joker springs towards Robin with an insane laugh. Just as planned. Damian only keeps the smirk off until the last second. He drops to land on his back, the Joker’s face twisting in confusion, and with all of this strength slams both of his boots hard into the Joker’s shins.

The howl given is beautiful.

The hairline fractures will be more so, the Joker cannot run away anytime soon. Damian rolls to his feet, all pretense of pain gone as he backhands the Joker across the cheek. The man goes down, and Robin pulls what he needs to tie this trash up.

A groan, “Batsy didn’t raise his kids fair. Bad Batsy.”

“You do not get fair, Joker.” He makes sure the zip ties are tight. Too tight. Along the way, he hears the fight dying down. A wail from Harley meaning she’s down. A line of cursing that means Hood is on his way. Damian thinks.

There are twenty-seven bones in the human hand…he doesn’t have the time he needs to break them all.

But he does have the time to slice three nerves at the base of the wrist.

How fortunate. His cuts are precise and quick. He is quite certain that they will be ignored due to the Joker’s other injuries.

If they scar like Damian has planned…Joker may lose the ability to use his hands.

Will never lift the knife, the gun, a new toy himself against his family again.

Good.

Damian jerks when a steel-tipped shoe buries itself into Joker’s side and sends the man flying away from him.

“Hood!”

“I know, shut up N!”

Joker still has the guts to chortle and wheeze, “Ha, Bat’s brats aren’t nice. And here I thought you little birdies were supposed to be goodie-two-shoes.”

“Nah. That’s Batman’s job.” Jason leans over enough to spit on the criminal. Damian takes note of the slight tremble in his frame. The way how his fists clench as he hovers over his killer. But killing the Joker is not Jason’s job.

It’s Damian’s.

He grew up in blood. It is only fair for him to die in it too. Todd is just being accepted back into the fold, where he belongs, it is unacceptable for him to lose his place again. So he directs his somewhat ally to less murderous aims.

“Hood, why should he deserve to die?” He tosses the question and something else at the man, something metal with a wicked curve at the end. “I believe it shall take Nightwing a while to get Batman down, perhaps enough for at ten hits if I stall for you? Make them count.”

Jason’s lips twist and he lifts the crowbar and gets to work.

He doesn’t get ten hits in, he gets twelve. The same age as Damian.

How sentimental.

It is a good night.

Chapter Text

Day 4 - Vacation = From the beach to camping in mountains, it’s up to you.


Tim wishes Dick would calm down on family vacations.

Just take a chill pill. Let Tim breath every once in a while, yes he needs those ribs, no he doesn’t need another layer of sunscreen. Fine. He lied, are you happy, Dick? Are you happy? Yes, give him more sunscreen. Fine, smear more of on his back, slather it on, give him a new paint job, he’s always wanted to be as white as the moon.

Sure, his ass is pasty but he plans to keep it that way, thanks.

Because the alternative? Is Jason.

Red Lobster, not mobster Jason.

Who currently writhes on the towel under the giant beach umbrella. His skin a red and peeling mess. There was a time when he declared sunscreen was for sissies. Now he growls and snarls at someone who dares to exceed a three feet radius of him. Only Alfred is allowed in the giant personal bubble, especially since the man approaches with a vast array of Aloe Vera and items to make the burn…burn less.

The sun loves a chosen few. It does not love Jason or Tim.

“Just lemme die again, Alfie. You got the gravestone and everything already. All ya need is new flowers,” he groans.

“Enough chatter Master Jason, please lean up so I can apply this to your dear shoulders.”

“Lemme die. I wanna. I can’t take it anymore. Where’s my gun?”

“Have you forgotten young sir? There is not a single firearm on the island. Nor any implements sharper than a butter knife. Nor a single internet wifi connection. Not even remote satellite will work here.” The last facts are spoken louder for Tim’s benefit.

He winces. Ouch, he’s not that bad, is he?  

Meanwhile, Jason’s whole face crumples in betrayal. “Alfie, how could ya?”

“I may have insisted on the help of a Super in our acquaintance. Clark was quite willing to scan the island several times to validate my request to make this a nonworking vacation.”

Bruce flinches minutely in a beach chair a few yards away. In his hands is a book. Tim swears by Dick’s perfect butt that Bruce isn’t even reading it. Bets it’s a cover for his ugly guilty mug.

It was Bruce’s bags that had to be checked the most….and repacked. More than once.

Thick cool globs squirt over his neck and Tim jerks only to be held in place by Dick. The grip on his shoulder firm. “Come on guys, it’s only three days! All of you could use a good dose of vitamin sea. Plus it’s overkill when your own butler has to blackmail you into taking a break!”

“Using his birthday was a dirty move,” Tim mutters out of the side of his mouth.

Alfred slowly turns his head towards Tim. One eyebrow raised. “Was it, Master Timothy?”

Tim looks away quickly. Dick takes advantage of the angle to cover his nose and cheeks in the greasy stuff that will save his life.

“It’s okay not to be workaholic for once, Timmy,” he coos. “Just think of all the fun we’ll have here!”

Tim swears Dick and Alfred must have planned this. Planned to use the butler’s birthday as an excuse, to spring a trap none of them could escape from. No one can say no to Alfred.

Not when he blew out the candle on a cupcake Jason made and Dick asked (deliberately) what he wished for.

Not when the man’s eyes grew soft and wistful. His words so quiet that no one dared interrupt with a breath.

No one rejected that request. No one.

They’re all distracted when loud laughter bursts from near the umbrella. Stephanie points a dainty finger at him and snickers, “Oh my gosh, Tim. Dick can stop now. The beacons are lit, Gondor calls for aid!” Tim scowls and Dick just works on his forehead.

Besides her, Cass nods with approval under a wide brim. The sunhat is huge, but armor takes many forms. “Look good.” She gives him a thumb up.

“Thanks, Cass. Shut it, Steph.”

She just snickers harder, “No can do, ex-boyfriend. You’re just jealous you can’t tan…like me.” She motions to miles of silky bronze skin. Steph does have the best beach body. She’s even wearing a yellow polka-dot bikini. Tim isn’t jealous…much. Just annoyed when he shifts and more sand sticks to his oily ankles. “But don’t worry, you’re the still the ‘fairest’ one of all.”

He should throw sand at her.

“There! All done.” Dick cheerfully beams, “What should we do first?”

“Bury annoying girls in the sand?”

Steph sticks her tongue at him.

“No. Tim. Remember when you tried to do that to Damian?”

Oh, yeah. Tim remembers that. He thought he was going to die. Damian proved that he has more stamina than him. The boy's used to this heat, and almost chased him up a coconut tree. Speaking of, where was the assassin child?

“Father?”

Oh. There. But Tim notices something off about the kid. It’s not the bucket in hand, a small shovel inside. It’s the way he swings it slightly, almost hesitant.

“May I offer a suggestion on possible activities?” He asks. His eyes dart to the side, unable to look at anyone directly.

Everyone waits for Bruce’s answer. If he makes the wrong one, guess there will be someone to bury in the sand.

“Go on, Damian. What is it?”

“There are tidepools further up the shore, we could scavenge and classify possible specimen together.”

Cass perks up. “Tidepools?” she echoes.

“That’s a wonderful idea, Dami!” Dick bounces over to him, Damian dodges the first hug but isn’t fast enough to dodge the second. “I don’t think Cass has ever seen those. We’ll look at sea urchins–”

“You can eat those, you know.”

Ewwwww, gross Tim,” grouses Steph.

“–play with the starfish. Later we can hunt for sand crabs and ohhhhhh poke at anemones. Maybe even find something for Jason, since he’s stuck–”

“In Hell,” Jay hisses. “Where I belong. Now go get me something pretty. And a book. Bruce gimme your book.”

“So let’s all go now. We need to seas the day!” Dick jokes. But his tone has an edge though, one that books no questions.

“Fine. It is a great suggestion, Damian.” Bruce gives his youngest a small smile. The boy’s lips twist in a tiny one back at him. A real one. Not a smirk, but a shy thing he covers with a hand. The Bat stands and tosses the book to Jason and leans to take the pail. “Let’s go.”

Alfred just watches them leave all content. This may be one of his best presents yet. Perhaps it is a request he shall have to make again.

And again.

And again.  

Chapter Text

Day 5 - Nightmares = The hurt/comfort drive is real.


 There’s dirt under his fingernails again.

His breathing shudders. A rattling thing too quick, his fingers shaking because it’s almost like he’s back there.

In his own grave.

With the pressed suit tailored too tight on him, strangling him. Where the wet, moldy smell of earth fills his nostrils and he screams.

And screams.

But no one comes.

Who’d come for a dead man anyway?

Jay kicks off his sheets and sweeps an arm over the nightstand, knocking every item to the floor. His water glass breaks and that’s good.

The destruction, the mess is better, better than–

Jay slaps the sides of his cheeks with his hands. Stay here you dumbfuck, you’re not there.

Yet his senses play tricks on him. The memories so heavy that phantom sensations wave in front of his eyes. He couldn’t move then, only squirm as he scratched the coffin cover. His hands bloody, half his nails gone because Bruce hadn’t scrimped. Had gotten the good stuff, the good mahogany. Jay reaches to squeeze his knees because they hurt, sting as like they did when finally, finally he found a weakness in that fucking box and rammed his legs through it. And that taste. That goddamn taste of decay and dirt every time he gasped and tore at the turf.

He doesn’t know how long it took to crawl to the surface.

But it took too long.

A choked laugh escapes him. If he looks in the mirror, will his eyes glow with Lazarus green? Jay sits up on the bed. Peers at the window, expecting to see his reflection with two pinpricks of eerie light, like a damn broken glowstick.

But it’s not the pit riding him tonight, his face in the glass remaining an obscure blur. For a half-second, he wishes it was. Madness doesn’t let fear bleed through. Just anger, and the victorious high of a smile when your gun finds the target.

When you find someone new to pay.

To blame.

Like Replace–Tim. His name is fucking Tim. It’s not his fault. Remember it’s not his fault.

And he can’t blame the pit, can’t blame Talia, can’t blame Ra’s that a creature walks among the Bats. He doesn’t know who his Frankenstein is, but when he finds them he’s got a bullet with their name all over it. ‘Cause dontcha know it’s better to let sleeping corpses lie?

Jay can’t stay here another heartbeat. Not in his old room a lifetime ago. He gets up and crosses the room to silently pull open the door. Fuck this. He ain’t sleeping no more, he’s getting a cig. So he goes to the only room he can. Fine, he could smoke anywhere but then Alfie narrows his eyes at him when he pulls a cig from his back pocket and he’s been too well trained for that, sue him.

In the hall, Jay doesn’t bother turning on the lights, what’s the point? He’s been there enough times, too many times on bad nights like this. Funny. Has that number has gotten lower? He pads through the dark, minding the floorboards that creak.

The smoke lounge is a piece of ostentatious bullshit. Reeks more of money than smoke and Jay has smeared his cigs out on the furniture, deliberately snubbing the artistic ashtray. Just ‘cause his heart pumps out more spite than blood. There’s leather armchairs in front of a cold fireplace, a pool table and three honest to god deer heads mounted on the wall. Damian ain’t allowed in this room. He’d tear it apart.

The thought makes his grimace relax a tad.  

He sinks into a chair and swings his legs over one of its arms. It’s the only way to be comfortable in the damn thing. He fumbles for the lighter in a drawer next to it and the spark illuminates his face. It also illuminates that he’s not alone.

“Do ya always have to be the dramatic fuck?”

“You should be in bed.”

“So should you. Betcha won’t tattle my ass to Alfie though.”

Bruce just stares at his son. “Why are you up, Jason?”

Jay just hums. “Yer the detective, not me. Why’s anyone up before the crack of dawn?” The room has that blush of blue. It’s an hour, maybe a little more, before dawn. Outside, a nightbird chirps its last song.

“I think I can make a guess.” Bruce says carefully, his face blank, “Can I sit here with you?”

“It’s yer house, dumbass. Can’t tell ya off even if I wanted to, minster head of the house.” But he gestures graciously to the other armchair.

“Thanks, son.”

Jay bites through his lip. Warring emotions of raw rage, want and need flooding his body as Bruce takes his seat. It’s minutes of them in the bleak light, smoke rising in curls before Jay can’t take it anymore.

“I get it now, you know.” Bruce hums under his breath, it’s a welcome mat of a noise. So Jay with his stupid remaining brain cells opens his stupid mouth to continue. “Why ya replaced me.”

The man in the chair goes still.

A sharp inhale. Exhale.

“Tim’s a good kid. Smart kid. Smarter than I was for sure. He’s everything I’m not and then some. I can see why ya made him Robin, I mean I wanted to nab him for my Robin when we fought over your cowl like dogs on a bone.”  

“Jason.” Bruce tries to cut in.

Jay won’t let him, “And he’s like you. Like a carbon copy mini-me. Thought ya ordered him from a Richie-rich catalog. Thinks like you, talks like you, obsesses over the mission like you–”

“Jason. I didn’t replace you.” Bruce pauses. “After you...died, I didn’t work with anyone. Couldn’t be around anyone. Your brother Dick stayed in Haven because he couldn’t stand me. Alfred almost...quit.”

Jay flicks the ash, wishes the shakes would quit it. Huh, that’s new for him. Alfie? The ever loyal, infallible, only stable fixture of the manor, Alfred Pennyworth calling it quits?

“You’re Jason Todd Wayne. No one could be you. The only reason Tim became Robin is because he, though I’m sure Alfred had some kind of hand in it, blackmailed me.”

“Wait what?”

“Tim legitimately knocked on my door one day to tell me I better take a Robin or else. Mind you, at the time he wasn’t referring to himself, but imagine the random neighborhood kid. Just stopping by to let you know he found out you dress like a bat at night, and lighten up mister. Get a partner before you kill someone.”

A snort escapes Jason before he can stop it. “Awkward.”

“And then he wouldn’t leave. Couldn’t stop poking his nose where it didn’t belong. I’d find bits and pieces of newspapers, of clues for my current case, tied on my doorstep with string. Then he showed up at the most rotten, most opportune time to save Dick and me from Two-Face.”

“Sounds like a little shit.”

Bruce’s lips crack a bit into a smirk. “I’m not going to repeat that. I hate to admit it, but at first, I wanted...to run him off. I wanted him to give up. I set ridiculous expectations, refused to let him take one step on a skyscraper until Alfred, until I, until Dick trained him.”    

“That doesn’t sound like his M.O. He don’t give up easy.”

“No. Tim doesn’t.” They zone out for a bit, staring at Jay’s dying cig, the last coils of smoke fading into thin air. “He stuck it out. Stubbornly dug his heels until I stopped pushing. He wasn’t you though and...I wanted you back.”

Jay rubs his face, something’s wrong with his eyes.  

“That’s not fair.” Bruce gives a rueful laugh. “I need to be better at that. You’re different people, important people, and I didn’t do right by either of you. I tried to clip your wings so you couldn’t fly away like Dick, and with Tim...I may have let him into the nest, but I didn’t let him stay in it until his father died.”  

His eyes are really messing with him so Jay abandons them to start picking under his nails to get the dirt outta them. It’s just dirt. He’ll be okay, it’s just dirt.

“I’m sorry, Jason.” Bruce looks at him then, sincerely, and something catches in Jay’s throat and sticks.

Fuck.

He doesn’t say I forgive you. That it’s fine. That they’ll get better because he doesn’t know and he can’t.

But he can’t stop his lips from moving, “Old dogs can’t learn new tricks...but maybe a shitty bat can.”

It’ll have to be enough.

In the paling dawn, Jay watches Bruce out of the corner of his eye. The Bat’s expression mild in hope and promise.

It’ll be enough.

Chapter Text

Day 6 - Best Rescue = A dire moment where someone comes through.


 It’s a den of wolves, a collection of monsters of the vilest kind.

Hungry, persistent thugs with the shiniest of teeth.  

It’s not a fight Bruce can punch his way out of.

In fact, he’s not allowed to punch anyone. Not with the saccharine smile he has to, needs to keep on his face.

“Mr. Wayne, Mr. Wayne can we get a statement for the Gotham Gazette?”

“Mr. Wayne, is it true today marks the thirtieth anniversary of your parents’ death?”

“Mr. Wayne, Do you think the Wayne legacy is still going strong? Or is it decaying each year?”

“Mr. Wayne–”

“Mr. Wayne–”

They’re worse than vultures. At least birds of prey stop picking at the bones once there’s no meat. But reporters keep unburying his dead, to check for marrow, to check over and over how Bruce Wayne feels. They want the story. They want to hear the story. It doesn’t matter how many times they’ve had it, they want it again. Bruce would rather be strapped to a chair by Joker than stay here another minute.

“Mr. Wayne, how do you think the late Mrs. Wayne would feel about your perpetual state of bachelorhood?”

At least then he could growl at his tormentors.

This was supposed to be a simple charity event, yes at an orphanage, which may have been his mistake. Like blood in the water, once a hint of the date got out, once they connected the dots…

Instead of one or two journalists to report the event, there’s fifteen.

Bruce hates them.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” He cajoles with a laugh, “You already know all this. What’s the point of investigating this old playboy?  The event of the night is over there! After all isn’t that why we’re all here? To sponsor and support those poor children in need?”

They can smell the unease, they shift gears and attack.

“Does that mean you plan to adopt a new ward?”

“Do you have a preference, Mr. Wayne? All your kids are black-haired boys.”

“What about a girl, Mr. Wayne!”

He’s never going to introduce them to Cass. Never. Bruce looks around, but the gang armed with microphones and cameras has firmly cornered him. His back pressed to the wall, and the fist in his coat pocket tightens. He clings to Brucie’s persona like a well-worn suit of armor.

“Come on now, don’t you think four kids is enough? You sound like child-hungry grannies.” Brucie smirks at them.

“But one of them is dead!”

The smirk drops.

The cameras zoom in to catch the flash in his eyes. The mob presses closer. Gluttonous men and women in Sunday best lick their lips at the crack of unknown emotion. “Oh, what happened to the circus kid? Why don’t we see him much anymore?”

Bruce evades with the best of them, “Maybe he’s outgrown Gotham, ever think about that? After all, I didn’t stay in Gotham when I was his age. I wanted to see the world. Dickie’s just following in his old man’s steps.”

They aren’t going to beat him at this game.

“But what of your third ward? Timothy Drake is–”

“Timothy Drake Wayne,” Bruce emphasizes strongly.

“What would your father think? Wouldn’t he think he’s running Wayne Enterprises into the ground? Last week, stocks dropped three points–”

“Three points in sales after raising fifteen points just last month.” A well-dressed man worms himself between Bruce’s chest and the crowd, “Honestly Mr. Colblair, I don’t know what you want more from me. If we compare stock prices from thirty years ago to now, the overall value of the company has gone up forty percent.

Tim. Bruce feels his muscles slack. CEO of Wayne Enterprises grins boyishly on crunches before them. His hair rakishly falls in front of his face and a bunch of cameras go off immediately.

“Mr. Drake!”

“Mr. Drake Wayne, please.” Tim wobbles slightly forward on the crutches, putting himself directly in the middle of the mass. Slowly breaking it up. Genius really. “Or Tiny Tim, don’t I play the part?”

There is a round of polite laughter. Tim nudges the side of Bruce’s shoe with his. A hidden signal of ‘follow me.’

“But really, if you want a real interview I have some wonderful kids for you to meet! Please, the more positive publicity these orphans get, the more likely they’ll find stable homes of their own.”

Some of the new anchors twitch uncomfortably. Tim balances on one arm brace, Bruce grabbing his shoulder to stead him, the act is fake but the look of gratitude on Tim’s face is real.

It’s a good photo opp. Wow, his former Robin is good.

“Ms. Carol, Journalist of a Taste of Home, correct?”

“Y-Yes, Mr. Drake Wayne?”

He points to a little girl at the refreshments table, “Darling Natasha over there, baked many of the sugary delights for tonight’s event! One of her recipes would give your readers all the puff and fluff they need.”

Shamefaced the woman leaves. That makes fourteen left.

“Dr. Raymond, I thought your focus was collecting tidbits for SciShow? I’d like you to meet Eric…” Tim rambles off and directs another journalist away.

Steadily, Tim carves a path through the crowd. Cheerfully chirping suggestions and sassy commentary with Bruce trailing behind him. He can’t get rid of all of them, but the two get to the edge of the horde unscathed.

Bruce is so grateful, he might give the cameras the hug they’re always dying to see.

Instead, another form taps his foot impatiently, “Father, I demand your presence immediately.”

Damian Wayne is dubbed Gotham’s Spoiled Little Prince for a reason. Arms crossed under his red bow tie, half their audience coos, and chuckles at his scowl. It’s Gotham, so there’s nothing the people like more than a character.

And Damian’s stuffed to the brim with it.

“Yes, Dami? How can I help you, my boy?” Bruce reluctantly lets Tim go, lets him readjust the crutches for an injury he doesn’t have. A redhead woman eagerly leans to take in the scene. It makes Bruce need to duck his head. Anything to hide his disdain. Brucie is a mask he developed over the years for survival, but the act Tim has to put on is all because of one Vicki Vale.

“You can help me by keeping your promises. You were supposed to start assisting me with my research project an hour ago.”

Tim covers his mouth as Bruce gives Damian a guilty frown, “Sorry sport, I didn’t mean to get tied down.”

“Apologies mean nothing.” The preteen sniffs haughtily. “Walk me down to the car now.”

“You better go,” Tim says demurely. He leans in with a mock whisper. “Before he gets fussy.”

Damian clicks his tongue in a show of displeasure. He plops his hands on his hips and the cameras go wild.

Bruce is this close to cracking.

Dick has always been a media darling, but Tim and Damian can run circles around this crowd all night.  

“Don’t worry, I handle things here,” Tim says with a wink. He turns and puts Bruce at his back, facing the army of sharks on his own. “Now what was I saying again, Ms. Vale?”

They leave the orphanage, leave Tim behind to dazzle and direct the event the way it should be. Bruce makes a note to send Alfred in an hour and a half, he noticed the dark circles under the makeup. Tim’s running on fumes again. He needs a sleep day.

Alfred’s the best one to convince him to take it.

Tim deserves it.

Especially after a rescue like that.

But for now Bruce, no the Bat focuses on his other savior, “So what’s this ‘research project’ you need me for?”

Damian’s teeth are shiny and sharp in the dark. He’s sure his son could tear out throats with them. When they get in the car and he just hands him the cowl.

“Oh just blood spatter analysis on 123rd street, I’ve been practicing my identification.”

“Just like I taught you?”

“Of course, Batman.”

“Good, Robin.”

Bruce takes off Brucie and puts on the Bat. He’s got the best toys and the best boys.

“Now let’s go.”

Chapter Text

Day 7 - Your Idea of Choice = What tropes or things would you like to see?

Bed sharing. I love bed sharing. Whether it’s platonic or romantic, get my favorite characters in the same bed.


Tim wants so little. Really.

He just wants to makes his plans, follow his plans, and have no wrenches thrown at his plan.

Is that too much to ask?

Example, when he makes a plan to help with his sleep debt, okay when he’s forced to. Yesterday Alfred cornered him, loomed over him listing every medical study on how the efficiency of the human mind decreases without adequate rest.

It ends up being a pathetic exchange.

Something like, “Master Tim, do you even know the last time you have had six hours of sleep?”

Tim had opened his mouth to argue, he’s got this, finger raised and ready–

“In a row?”

Tim’s mouth snapped closed, his body deflating faster than a balloon.

“Why, it’s been weeks. How completely unacceptable.” Then Alfred patted his hand, gave him that patient, expectant look and helpfully rearranged his schedule.

Deleting everything on his itinerary.

Tattle-telling him to Tam. Informing the Teen Titans of Red Robin’s condition and need. Coercing him to hand over his case files, all of them, to be locked down for the next 24 hours. It’s not fair.

It leaves him no options but to concede. So he makes a plan. A sleep plan.

Get at least seven hours, ugh dammit Alfred, nine hours of sleep this Saturday. Therefore appeasing the demon butler of Gotham so he can get back to his vigilante, crime-fighting ways.

He’s graciously allowed to choose his sleeping arrangements, even though when he picks the Perch, a furrow appears on the older man’s forehead. But there he has the best mattress a rich CEO can buy. Tam ordered it for him because every now and again she likes to remind him to get some sleep before she kills him.

There’s a reason she and Alfred get along so well.

It’s a giant thing. A California King that he can starfish out in any direction with a foot or two of extra space to spare. It’s the most seductive siren Tim has ever encountered. It’s allure stronger than the deluxe coffee shop in downtown Gotham that refuses to sell their company to Tim Drake Wayne. No matter how much Tim begs. Honestly, Tim feels like he’s having an torrid affair on the things he loves when he sits down on the mattress and sinks.

So the Perch is ideal because of one, the perfect bed. Two, he’s isolated from distractions that could hinder his ‘rest.’ And lastly, he’s blessedly alone.

It’s perfect conditions for a nap.

Until Dick Grayson taps twice on his bedroom window at three o’clock in the morning.

It wakes him up immediately.

Boom, a wrench in his plan.

Groggily, Tim crawls across the bed to the window. He cracks it open an itch. “What do you want, Dick?” Maybe he can convince Dick that this is not the time and to go away.   

“Can I sleep with you tonight?” Is murmured softly in the dark. He can’t see his face, but whatever sharp retort Tim was going to say melts away. That’s not Dick’s regular voice.

“I’m sorry…Please?”

It’s a voice that needs. A voice that pleads. Where the word cracks a smidge in the middle and Tim has never said no to that voice before…he doesn’t plan to start now.

So instead of reminding Dick that he’s a grown-ass man, he sighs, cracks the window large enough for Dick to slide his gloves under and pull. The older vigilante oozes through the opening to slump on the bed with Tim.

“You’re not wearing the suit to bed. No boots on the covers, Dick.” It’s the only demand Tim gives that night. Hurriedly Nightwing strips down to the undersuit, kicking off the boots and tossing the gauntlets to finish the messy pile on the floor.

“Thanks, Timmy,” Dick whispers getting under the covers. He’s shaking. Tim doesn’t bother to ask. He’s a detective. They all have demons of their own, shadows they jump at and bad nights.

If this is how he can help Dick through one of his?

He’ll do it.

“Just go to sleep.”

Dick hums and throws an arm over Tim’s shoulders to pull him in. Dick’s addicted to being the big spoon. Tim grumbles but allows it. He’s forgetting something. What is he forgetting? Yet, the heat pressing on his back is nice, his head finds a new pillow on his brother’s arm and Dick’s breathing gets low and even. It puts Tim straight back to sleep.

They forgot the window.

It is a mistake.

At 5:00 am, Tim hears a new noise.

Weighted footsteps that pace towards his bed. He jerks, his arm sliding under the pillow to grab the shuriken there. Steady….steady

“Drake, do you perhaps know of Grayson’s location? Father has been looking everywhere for him, ah–There he is.”

“No.”

“What do you mean no? He is obviously right behind you, do you think my eyes are dysfunctional?”

“Your face is dysfunctional,” Tim says under his breath. He’s tired. The weight of his eyelids are angry with him. “No, I mean no as in I want to deny your existence in my room, in my Perch. Like now, when I’m trying to sleep. What’s next? Jason kicking down my door? Cass taking my couch?”

“Cassandra is already on your couch.”

Tim jerks up, but Dick’s arm is solid around his waist so he’s unable to get up and check.

“Cass?” He calls. “Are you there?”

Muffled through the door, barely heard is, “Sleep now, talk later.”

“Figures. Just figures.” Tim fumes but when Dick whines at him in his asleep, he slumps back into the bedding and glares at a smug Damian.

“I need to move to another safe house.”

“We know the locations of all your safe houses.”

“Then I will make a new one.”

“Try your hand, but Grayson is very talented at tracking down those that do not wish to be found.”

Tim scrunches up his face, eyeing Dick out of the corner of his eye. He knows that fact already.

“I see I have no other choice.” Damian presses a hand to his com, “Batman, Nightwing is here as you expected.”

“Expected?” Tim can feel one of his red eyes twitch.

“He is apparently enforcing Agent A’s desire to reduce the sleep deprivation of one of our other members.”

“Yeah, which none of you are helping with by the way.” Tim hisses, poking at Dick’s arm, Dick throws his leg over his in retaliation.

“Yes, Batman. I know.” Damian bites his lip, listening to the response over the com, “Yes, I shall take measures to rest as well. We will report to you in the morning.”

“We?”

Damian clicks the com off and pulls it out of his ear.

“Damian. Damian, what is this ‘we’ you speak of?”

But the younger boy ignores him, just sits on the bed and unlaces his boots. It’s when Damian has shrugged out of the tunic that Tim finally gets the memo.

“Oh come on! Really? No.”

Damian sets a neatly folded pile of gear next to Dick’s haphazard spread.

“Something…affected Grayson poorly tonight.” He says before Tim can argue more. “Perhaps in the abuse case, we stopped tonight. The male victim…had been roughly traumatized by his partner. At the end of patrol, he sent me ahead towards the manor…yet I do not wish to be far from him. Besides, taking watch ensures the livelihood of one’s allies.”

“You are so weird.” Just say you’re worried and that you care gremlin.

“Likewise,” something shifts in his expression, going carefully blank. “Therefore can you agree to stay on your side of Grayson?”

“Oh. My. Gosh. On my side of—are you serious? I can’t believe—“ Tim stops and inhaled slowly through his nose, counting to ten, to fifteen. You know what? Screw it. He could argue more, but every second spend bickering is another second not sleeping which is the point of his Saturday, sleeping. And no one is going to take that away from him, especially not one ninja troll.

“I suppose however…if the proximity bothers you, perhaps Cassandra may be willing to share the sofa…”

“Fine. Just fine. Get in bed. If you kick me in your sleep know that I’ll kick you right back.”

Damian sniffs haughtily, any tentativeness leaving his figure. “Very well. Now continue your guard on Grayson’s front–”

“Guard, Damian? I’ve been reduced to a bony stuffed animal. Dick is crushing me so hard that I can’t move.”

“–While I protect his back.” He climbs over their entangled limbs to flop behind Dick. The covers rustle as the boy gets comfortable. “Now be silent, Drake. Or my report to Father and Pennyworth will not be in your favor.”

“…Brat.”

“Idiot.”

Surprisingly, even when he’s in bed with the would-be-assassin child, you know the one that almost killed him, it’s only moments before Tim is–

Out.

There’s an irritating clicking noise. Tim wrinkles his nose. Maybe it will stop? Click. Click. His closed eyelids tell him it’s less dark than it used to be. Still, if he can just squeeze them shut and–

Click.

It takes a minute to place it, his brain not all functional, but it’s definitely the shutter of a phone camera. Tim squeezes whatever is in his arms and buries his face in spikes of soft hair. Wait.

“Oh my gosh, you guys are so cute. I need a hundred of these, no a thousand! Alfred is going to love seeing this. I can’t wait to show him!”

“Dick? Dick wha–” Tim blearily groans. He lets one eye slit open a sliver, there’s Dick kneeling next to the bed. His eyes sparkling as he holds his phone up for another angle. There’s a weak murmur as someone nuzzles his collarbone. Tim’s whole body freezes immediately. Eyes now wide open, brain completely on, panic is the best wake up alarm after all.

Tim gulps and slowly turns his head to the bedside clock. Do not make any sudden movements. He realizes he’s gotten not nine, but twelve hours of sleep.

“Oh, I wish you guys were always like this!”

He winces when Damian’s arms become a vice around his waist at the volume Dick’s voice. Squeezing, then relaxing. Tight, release. Asleep for now, but Tim begs with his eyes for Dick to shut up before the demon wakes.

“Stop taking pictures Dick, and help me. This is serious.”

He hopes Alfred is satisfied with the overall outcome. Sure he’s gotten his rest, but now Tim’s in mortal peril. It’s the most dangerous situation he’s ever been in his life.

Being in Damian’s arms like this.

Alfred better be happy.

He better be.