Jason pressed his hand firmly over the kid’s mouth. It was probably unnecessary since Damian had been trained to obey orders from any of his family, which Talia insisted included Jason—only because she was trying to manipulate him into attaching to her, but it was working in his favor.
The brick dug into his back, cool and wet in a way that screamed Gotham. Nostalgia poured over him in wave after wave with every second he stayed pressed to the alley wall, waiting for the assassins to be well and surely gone, bringing him back to life in a way the Lazarus Pit could only imitate. He was so close. He was so close to home, but they knew where he was going. It would be almost impossible to get to the Manor, to Bruce, to Dad, but he couldn’t take care of Damian alone for much longer. It had been two days since he’d eaten, and more than half a day since he’d been able to even steal enough for the toddler to eat anything. He couldn’t just bring the assassins to Bruce’s doorstep with no warning, either—images flashed through his head of Bruce, Alfred, even that little kid who’d taken up his cape all shredded open, painfully and slowly to punish Jason for daring to run, for daring to steal an al Ghul.
But where could he—
Jason’s eyebrows rose at the thought. It wouldn’t work…would it?
Jason’s heart hammered against his ribs harder than the crowbar ever did as he picked the meticulously secure locks on Dick’s front door. If it had been just him, he would have gone in through the window, since he knew that Dick would have less security on his preferred point of access, since Dick was extremely lazy and no one wanted to finagle a dozen locks while bleeding out on a windowsill, but he didn’t want to risk it with Damian in his arms.
Instead, Jason had climbed three flights of stairs, carrying Damian because if the kid was sleeping, then he wouldn’t feel how hungry he was. Jason could certainly felt how hungry he was, and he had hoped against hope that Dick would be home, even though it was too early in the night, just so he wouldn’t have to spend twenty minutes completely exposed in the hallway while trying to get the door open.
The last lock sprung, and Jason gave a silent cry of victory as he pushed the door open.
Jason adjusted Damian on his hips and hurried into the apartment, barely keeping himself from slamming the door behind him.
Jason stopped in his tracks just inside the door.
Dick’s apartment was just how it had been before—
Jason didn’t dare flick the light on, but he was sure that the pile of socks in the corner was unmoved from the time of Jason’s death. That had been…a year? A year and a half? Jason hadn’t been able to keep track of the time, but he was sure that he was at least sixteen or seventeen now.
God, Dick was a slob.
Jason swiped at his eyes with the sleeve of his robe and forced himself to keep moving. He didn’t know what they were going to do next, whatever Bruce decided when Dick called him—DickwasgoingtocallhimJasonwascominghome—but that would come later. Right now, he had to eat something, not just because of the gnawing hunger in his stomach, but also in case the ninjas came and he needed to fight them.
Jason picked his way carefully through the room until he could lay Damian on the couch. Damian fussed in his sleep, but Jason petted his hair and cooed at him in soft Arabic nothings. When Damian had settled, Jason pulled Dick’s coat from the back of the couch—Alfred would have a heart attack—and draped it over the sleeping toddler.
Jason should have gotten up and immediately raided Dick’s refrigerator, but he waited.
The weak glow of streetlamps and city lights leaked in through the window, casting just a sliver of light on Damian’s sleeping face. Damian was always so tense, even though he kept his tiny features so cool and composed. Asleep, though, Damian’s face was heavy with exhaustion, but…soft. Relaxed in a way he hadn’t ever been in the League headquarters.
Talia had seen that tiny little face and tried to train him to be a killer. She’d hurt him so much, just like she’d hurt Jason, but Damian was Talia’s son, Damian was a baby. He wouldn’t let anyone touch Damian, never again, and if Talia or Ra's wanted him back, they would take him over Jason's cold dead body, again and again and again, no matter how many times he had to come back to steal Damian away from the monsters that were his family.
It wouldn't come to that, though. They had the Bats on their side, and the entire Justice League if it came to it. He didn’t know how Bruce would feel about the fact that he’d stolen Talia’s child, but surely Bruce would let Damian stay, or at least find Damian a safe home away from the League.
“Sleep well, Dami,” Jason murmured, pressing a light kiss to Damian’s head. “You’re safe now.”
Dick slipped in through his window, sore after a long patrol. His head was spinning slow circles after smacking the side of his face into a wall while doing some complicated grappling to dodge gunfire. He’d need to check himself for a concussion, but he didn’t think it was that bad.
He stretched weary limbs and stripped out of his costume, tossing it carelessly onto the floor. He’d pick it up later.
No, he wouldn’t. He would just hope that no one broke into his apartment tonight.
He was cold enough to pull on sweatpants, but not cold enough to bother to find a moderately clean shirt. He was hungry, though, and decided to grab a post-patrol snack before crashing on the sofa for the night.
When Dick flicked the lights of the main room on, he didn’t actively process the back of the head on the couch. Some level of his consciousness probably dismissed it as Tim, but it wasn’t a threat, really. He was too tired and hungry to care that Tim had apparently ditched Gotham to break into his apartment again.
A gasp, and a creak of the sofa as the person on the couch stood, and Dick blinked. That sounded too heavy to be Tim.
He snapped his head around and froze.
“Dick?” Jason whispered.
That was Jason. That was Jason, standing there, shock and joy warring in his expression, clutching a small child who sleepily clutched Jason back.
That was Jason, alive.
…maybe he’d hit his head harder than he’d thought.
Jason—or whatever head-trauma induced hallucination had taken his form—stumbled forward, and Dick stayed rooted to the floor. His eyes flitted across Jason’s body with numb shock as Jason stretched out one hand, as the hand grew closer and closer.
Jason was tall. Not just taller, but tall. Jason had always been on the short side because of early childhood malnutrition and his time on the streets, but this Jason was nearly as tall as Dick, with broad shoulders Jason had never gotten to grow into because Jason had died when he was a kid.
But the face. The voice. Even the more defined features, with almost none of Jason’s lingering baby fat, and the deeper voice…those were Jason. The half panicked, half hopeful way his brows knit together as he stared at Dick…that was Jason.
But it couldn’t be.
“You’re dead,” Dick choked out in a barely-there whisper.
Jason’s reaching fingers touched Dick’s shoulder, and they both gasped.
Jason was warm. Alive.
Dick surged forward and yanked Jason into a hug, squeezing him so hard that the child between them squirmed and murmured in discomfort. Even then, it was only with soul shattering effort that Dick loosened his grip enough to not break the kid’s ribs. Then Jason pulled back, and for a terrifying moment, Dick thought he was going to leave, and Dick was going to wake up to this being a dream again, but Jason just set the kid on the floor and threw himself back into Dick’s arms.
Jason’s arms were strong, and he held Dick just as tightly and desperately as Dick held him. Dick’s breath caught in his chest, but he could feel the rapid push of Jason’s chest rising and falling against his as Jason started hyperventilating.
“Don’t let them take me,” Jason pleaded, burying his face in the crook of Dick’s neck. “Dick, please don’t let them take me again, please, please—”
“Never,” Dick snapped. “Never, never, never again. Never again, little wing.”
This might be a dream, but if it was, then Dick never wanted to wake up. He didn’t even know who Jason was scared of, but no one was ever taking his brother away from him again.
That seemed to be the last straw for Jason. He slumped against Dick so suddenly Dick thought he had fainted until his entire body started to heave with sobs. And that of course broke Dick, but he needed to be the strong one because Jason needed a strong big brother, but Jason was alive—
They both melted at the exact same time, collapsing to their knees and clinging to each other fiercely.
After several minutes, Dick felt the tiniest of taps on his arm, and he looked up to see a toddler staring at him with an almost blank expression that betrayed the kid’s confusion and worry. Dick had to blink before he remembered that yes, Jason had had the kid with him for some reason. There wasn’t just some random kid in his apartment, except there kind of was, because Dick had no idea where Jason had gotten the kid in the first place.
“Ahki,” the boy said in a voice as intimidating as any toddler could manage, pointing to Jason with a frown. Was that…a nickname?
Apparently, it was another language, because the boy growled something else at Dick, still pointing at Jason, and Dick understood none of it.
Jason did, though. He half sobbed, half laughed, and pulled back from Dick just enough to wipe his face and draw up a wobbly smile.
“He’s not hurting me,” Jason whispered, then repeated it in the other language. He tapped Dick’s chest with two fingers, and his smile widened. “Ahki.”
The little boy inhaled sharply and glanced back and forth between them. Jason chuckled, his voice still thick with emotion, and stretched out his free arm in an offering. Keeping a wary eye on Dick, the toddler shuffled forward and leaned into Jason’s body.
Jason pulled the kid up against his own chest, then curled back into Dick so that they were nearly squishing the kid again. The toddler wrapped his arms around Jason’s neck, but he kept glancing back at Dick like he thought that Dick was going to attack them.
“Wh—who?” Dick managed at last.
He wasn’t—he wasn’t Jason’s, was he? But, no, the kid looked like he had to be at least three, and Jason had only been…gone…for two years. But where had Jason found the kid?
Jason sniffled. “Damian al Ghul?”
Ice ran down Dick’s spine as a layer of shock calved like a glacier.
The al Ghuls.
If Jason had come from the al Ghuls, then all this was real. The Lazarus Pit had brought Ra’s back to life, so there was no reason it couldn’t bring back Jason too, and it would be just like them to try to manipulate Bruce with his dead son.
But this was real.
He was really holding Jason.
Dick squeezed Jason even tighter.
Jason’s breath hitched on a near sob. “Dick, we can’t send him back! They were training him, and he’s just a baby, and they hurt him so much—”
“No, he’s ours,” Dick growled.
The al Ghuls could suck it if they wanted Jason or Damian back. If Bruce wouldn’t take in Damian, which he would, then Dick would find some way to adopt him, but he was never going back to his parents, whichever al Ghul that happened to be.
Oh, god, they were both turning into Bruce, weren’t they?
Jason jolted suddenly and leapt back. Dick reached for him, but Jason surged to his feet and scrubbed his face.
“Dick, you have to call Bruce!” Jason grabbed Damian from Dick and clutched him protectively against his chest. “There are ninjas all over Gotham looking for us, and if they can’t find us, eventually they’re going to search the Manor, and they might even come here! We all need to go—somewhere, but they’re gonna kill everyone, and it’s gonna be my fault if we don’t—”
Dick jumped to his feet and clapped Jason on the shoulder to shut up his self-loathing before it set off a panic attack on his way to the bedroom. Jason followed Dick a step behind.
They needed somewhere as secure as it could get until everything calmed down. Somewhere to put Jason and Damian and Tim and Alfred while Bruce and Dick sorted this mess out, and there was only one place Dick was sure the League wouldn’t be able to infiltrate.
Dick grabbed his phone from the nightstand and opened it up. The second it took to open the phone seemed to roll on forever, but then Dick clicked the contacts and scrolled down until he had Bruce’s.
He glanced quickly at Jason and Damian, still wearing their distinctive League robes, and gestured at the dresser as he hit the call button. Jason nodded his understanding and set Damian on the foot of Dick’s bed before pulling open the dresser drawers and rifling through them.
It took three rings before Bruce picked up. “What is it?”
Normally, Dick would have ribbed Bruce for being so curt and skipping any kind of polite greeting, but the situation really called for Bruce’s directness.
“I have—” Jason in my apartment. No, Bruce would never believe that, and it would take too long to convince Bruce that he wasn’t crazy. “—intel. The League is in Gotham in droves, and we have reason to believe they’re coming for the Manor. Not necessarily immediately, but definitely eventually. You need to get Tim and Alfred to the Watchtower.”
Dick heard a clatter in the background like a chair falling to the kitchen floor.
“What set them off?” Bruce snapped.
“I…I’ll tell you at the Watchtower. This isn’t something I can explain on the phone.” Dick glance up at Jason, who had frozen in the act of pulling a dozen knives from various hiding places. They both took a deep breath, and Dick forced himself to speak again. “I promise, Bruce. Just…get Tim, but make sure you’re not obvious in case they’re already watching you.”
“Dad, trust me,” Dick pleaded.
Dick could hear the way Bruce gasped on the other end of the line and knew that he’d won. Dad always got Dick what he wanted, though he’d never abused that power. It was for emergencies only.
“Alright,” Bruce whispered. “We’ll be there in twenty minutes. Be—be safe, Dick.”
Dick nodded even though Bruce couldn’t see him. His eyes stung. “Yeah, Dad. I promise. Good—” If the League got a hold on any of them, this could be the last time Dick ever talked to Bruce. “—I love you.”
“I love you too.” Bruce’s voice was thick with emotion. “Goodbye.”
“Bye,” Dick whispered and hung up.
When he glanced up, Jason was pulling on one of Dick’s tee shirts. Dick cautiously approached Damian and reached for the belt holding his robe closed. Damian slapped his hand hard enough to genuinely hurt, and Dick yanked his hand back.
Jason chuckled dryly and nudged Dick aside. “Let me.”
Damian didn’t look happy about it, but he submitted himself to letting Jason pull off the top robe. Jason left the little pants underneath and pulled another one of Dick’s tee shirts over Damian’s head. The shirt swamped the kid, and the scowling toddler swimming in a too-big tee shirt was undeniably one of the cutest things Dick had ever seen.
It was obvious within moments of stepping into Drake Manor that Tim had lied to Bruce about his father and stepmother being home again, but that was working in Bruce’s favor at the moment.
He walked briskly up the stairs and down the hall to Tim’s bedroom. He didn’t take any particular care to be quiet, but the lumpy mass in the middle of Tim’s bed didn’t stir. They really needed to work on Tim’s situational awareness, but he was actually sleeping, which was its own victory.
Bruce had to pick his way across Tim’s bedroom floor, which was an absolute wreck unlike the pristine guest room he kept in the Manor, to the bedside. Tim was sleeping so deeply that Bruce genuinely was worried that he had already been kidnapped by the League and replaced with a pile of blankets, but when he got closer, he could see the utterly peaceful expression on Tim’s face and knew that Tim was out. He might actually have to carry Tim.
The small part of him that had always preferred doing to saying purred in satisfaction at the idea of carrying his youngest son, but they had to hurry.
Bruce shook Tim’s shoulder. “Tim. Tim, wake up.”
Tim didn’t even stir. Bruce checked his pulse, but it was normal.
“Tim, you need to get up.” Bruce shook him a bit more forcefully.
“Tim, Alfred’s going to see your bedroom.”
Tim jolted upright with a panicked gasp. He shrieked and threw himself halfway across the bed, then spun around with a dazed yet fierce expression.
The fight in his features melted into confusion as Tim processed who it was in his bedroom.
“Tim, we need to get to the Watchtower right now,” Bruce told him, stretching out his hand.
Tim gasped again and scrambled to the edge of the bed, taking Bruce’s hand to steady himself on his sleep-stiff legs.
“Has someone figured out—”
Bruce shook his head. “The League is upset with us. Alfred is getting the zetas ready, but we need to leave right now. Come with me.”
Tim followed obediently after Bruce, only pausing to grab his shoes and stuff his feet into them when they reached the door.
They moved quickly, but carefully across the yard to the wall between the properties. Tim had hammered iron stakes into the wall on both sides a long time ago for easy climbing. Bruce went first, thoroughly scanning the grounds on both sides to make sure that they weren’t being followed or about to be ambushed. When he was sure it was safe, he waved Tim up after him. He had Tim climb down first so he could keep his bird’s eye view to make sure they were safe.
There was nothing but open lawn between the wall and the door to Wayne Manor, which worked both in their favor and against it. There was enough light from the red light-polluted sky that they could see fairly well in all directions, but it also made stealth nearly impossible. It was a risk they had to take, though.
They made it unhindered to the house, and Bruce initiated a full lockdown of the manor behind them. Hopefully, there weren’t already League assassins in the manor, but now there wasn’t any chance of reinforcements getting in.
For the moment, at least.
Alfred was ready in the cave when they got there.
“The zeta tubes are primed and ready for out departure,” Alfred informed him.
Bruce nodded curtly and motioned for them to step up to it. He’d send them through first, just in case there were any complications with the travel and so he could deactivate them behind him to prevent the League from following them.
Alfred went first, calmly stepping into the light despite it being his first trip in the zeta. A moment later, he was gone.
Bruce nodded to Tim. “Get up there.”
Tim swallowed hard and walked up to the tube. His shoulders were tense, and he turned right before he stepped inside.
“Everything’s going to be okay…right?” Tim’s frightened expression jolted Bruce out of Batman mode and into Dad mode for a second. Tim was so young, and he forgot that sometimes.
“Everything is going to be okay, Tim. We’re all going to be fine,” Bruce promised.
Tim was still frowning, but some of the tension in his shoulders loosened. “Okay. Thanks, Bruce.”
Tim stepped into the tube, and after a bright flash of light, he was gone, leaving Bruce alone in the empty cave.
Bruce primed the tube for one final teleport. Once he stepped through, the zeta would go into lockdown and stay in lockdown until Bruce manually turned it back on from the cave itself. Then he stepped through.
Dick hit a snag with the teleportation. See, he wasn’t sure that Jason was still in the system, but Damian definitely wasn’t. They needed to get them both out of there as quickly as possible, but they couldn’t send Damian up alone, and they couldn’t risk sending Jason alone, either, because Damian would run away from Dick. Damian seemed to be adorably protective of Jason, and Dick didn’t want to see what would happen if Jason disappeared in a flash of light before Damian’s eyes.
So Dick had to take DNA swabs from both of them and go through several dozen layers of security twice while crouching in a shadowy alley in front of the zeta tube disguised as a phone box. The back of his neck prickled at how exposed they were, and he found himself constantly looking up and down the alley even though Jason was keeping guard. They were well past the twenty minutes agreed upon, and if they took any longer, Bruce was probably going to show up.
Finally, they were in. “Two guest access passes. Go.”
Jason didn’t waste a second in snatching Damian from where he’d been playing with a dagger and a piece of cardboard while the older boys worked and carrying him into the zeta. Dick wasn’t even a second behind them.
“Watchtower,” Dick ordered.
“Recognized,” the mechanized voice answered.
There was a bright flash of light, and then they were standing in the Watchtower landing platform.
When the light cleared, they were safe. They were in the Watchtower, it had worked, they’d gotten away, they were safe, and—
Jason froze when he saw who was waiting for them just outside the zeta.
Bruce had barely changed at all, but every change was heartbreaking. There was more silver in his hair than there had been when Jason had been fifteen, and there were more lines on Bruce’s face. Jason knew, intellectually, that losing a kid was supposed to be the worst thing that could possibly happen to someone, but it hadn't ever occurred to him that Bruce would feel like that about Jason.
Then Bruce looked up at them, and Jason could see from the way he stiffened that he’d recognized Jason too.
Another moment, and Jason broke.
Tears streamed down his face, even though he’d already cried a lifetime supply at Dick’s apartment. It couldn’t be real. He couldn’t be here, after all that time, he couldn’t be staring at Bruce, but he was staring at Bruce, and Bruce would always protect him, and—
Jason shoved Damian at Dick, hoping more than assuring that Dick would catch him, and ran forward.
“Dad!” he cried, his eyes blurry with tears.
Bruce snapped out of it and leapt forward, seizing Jason into the fiercest, strongest hug he’d ever been in in his life. It felt like crushing safety, like Bruce, like being loved, like being twelve again and being told that he was permanent and forever.
“Jason?” Bruce gasped. “J—Jason?!”
Jason could speak around the gross sobbing, but he nodded into Bruce’s shoulder.
“How—?” And then Bruce was crying, and he squeezed Jason even tighter like he was trying to absorb Jason into his own body to keep him from getting away again, and Jason clung even tighter because that sounded like a great idea, and—
“Master Jason?” Alfred—Alfredwasheretoo—choked out.
“Alfie?” Jason squeaked, and he reached out blindly with one hand, and then there was a second body pressing into his back and holding him tight, and they didn’t tower over him like they had when he was little, but they were holding him and loved him and they would never make him go back to the al Ghuls and he didn’t even know who was trembling, but he was home.
“But—” Jason didn’t know that voice, but it was young and it must have been the new Robin, his new brother, and he was sure he would care about that in a little bit, but right now he was being held by his family for the first time in more than two years. “—isn’t Jason…”
“The al Ghuls,” Dick said hoarsely, and Jason could feel Bruce’s flinch.
The new kid gasped, but Jason just wriggled one arm out from where Alfred’s body was pinning it against Bruce so that he could hold Alfred back just as tightly. He was never, ever leaving again. He would handcuff himself to the armchair in the library—they hadn't gotten rid of his armchair, right? Alfred hadn't liked it because it was stained and torn a bit, but it was the comfiest thing ever and it had the fun memories of going thrift shopping with an awkward billionaire who didn’t even know you could buy things for less than a hundred dollars, and he was probably going to cry if they’d gotten rid of his armchair and the stupid doily Alfred had put over the top in a sad but hilarious attempt at making it classier—well, he’d handcuff himself to something in the house if it meant he got to stay.
“Hey, hey, settle down, kid. They’re—ow, they’re not hurting Jason,” Dick hissed, and Jason suddenly remembered that he’d stolen a toddler from everything he’d ever known and then shoved him at a random stranger and ditched him.
Jason sniffled and reluctantly stepped back—or he would have if Bruce hadn't yanked him back up against his chest. Jason squeaked in surpise.
“You’re not going anywhere,” Bruce growled in his ear, his hand coming up to card through Jason’s hair, and Jason absolutely melted.
Jason held out the arm that he’d had around Bruce—there clearly was no danger of Bruce letting him go—and Dick got the message and brought Damian over.
Damian had no problem elbowing Bruce as he tried to climb into Jason’s arms, and from the dull thud, Jason was pretty sure Damian also had no problem kicking Dick in the ribs in revenge. Bruce did let Jason move back enough to let Damian cling to Jason’s neck, but his arms stayed firmly around Jason.
“Jaylad? Who is this?” Bruce rumbled, and Jason could hear Bruce’s dad voice slipping out. A tension he didn’t realize he was carrying dispelled at the realization that Bruce was already in love.
“Damian,” Jason said softly, pressing a kiss to the side of Damian’s head.
Damian turned his face so he could hide it against Jason’s neck. Then Damian shook once and Jason’s skin got uncomfortably wet, and Jason pulled back a bit more insistently. He could tell that Bruce and Alfred didn’t want to let go, but he could also tell that they knew they had to.
Jason mourned the loss of their warmth, but Damian was his brother, his responsibility, and he had to come first.
“Shh, shh,” Jason soothed, then whispered in the League dialect, “They will not hurt you, little brother.”
Damian sniffled. “They will punish us.”
Bruce inhaled sharply, and Jason raised his head. Damian snapped his head up to stare at Bruce, wild terror betrayed in his eyes for just a second before he schooled his features the way he’d been taught and regarded Bruce levelly.
Bruce took a half-step forward. “It’s alright, son. I will not punish you. No one will punish you.”
It hadn't really occurred to Jason, but of course Bruce would speak the League dialect. He could tell that Alfred, Dick, and new kid Tim were all completely confused though, but the emotions of the situation had to be clear enough.
“This is our father, Damian,” Jason told him. It was a bit of a lie, but not much. Sure, Bruce wasn’t Damian’s dad yet, but he would be as soon as they could get a fake background set up for Damian, because Jason knew there was no way Bruce would let Damian go either. He had to at least suspect the abuse Damian had suffered with the League.
Damian’s tiny little fist squeezed Dick’s tee shirt so hard it would probably be permanently stretched. “Mother is mad.”
“But Father is happy,” Jason argued. He couldn’t explain it in terms more complicated than that, both because of Damian’s age and his upbringing, but he wanted to hammer it through Damian’s tiny thick skull that they were safe now and never going back to his mom.
“His mother is Talia?” Bruce asked.
“I will protect you from your mother, Damian. You are safe now.” Bruce reached out one hand slowly.
Jason couldn’t see Damian’s flinch as minute as it was, but he could feel it. Jason hesitated but didn’t move back as Bruce reached closer, his eyes flicking from Damian to Jason before settling firmly on Damian.
Damian watched Bruce’s hand intently, and he continued to tense, but he wasn’t freaking out yet. Whether that was because of fear or because he could read Bruce’s soft body language or even because he thought that Jason wanted him to sit still and let the man do what he wanted to Damian, Jason didn’t know. Damian was so young, though, that he learned far more by what people did than what they said. They couldn’t just tell Damian that he was safe with Bruce and Alfred and Dick, they had to show him that their touches were kind and gentle.
And then Bruce’s hand was only an inch away.
They all watched to see what Damian would do. The answer was apparently turn and hide his face against Jason again and started crying. It wasn’t just sobs, either, it was long and horrible keening wails. Then, just as suddenly as they started, the cries petered off and left a trembling Damian in their wake.
Jason had seen what had happened the last time someone had caught Damian crying. No wonder he was scared.
“Damian,” Jason whispered, pressing a kiss into his silky black hair. “You’re safe.”
Bruce stepped closer, but kept his hand hovering right over Damian. He glanced at Jason, and Jason considered before giving a brief nod of approval.
Bruce’s giant hand practically covered Damian’s tiny back. “I am not mad. I will not hurt you.”
Damian wiped his nose on Jason’s—luckily Dick’s, but Jason was wearing it—shirt, the little stinker, and shook his head.
Bruce paused thoughtfully, then glanced over at Tim, who had huddled up close to Alfred and looked extremely confused.
“Tim, can you cry for me?” Bruce asked.
“What?” Jason hissed, but Bruce gave him that annoying I know what I’m doing look.
Tim had to blink a few times before he seemed to process what he’d been asked, then he abruptly burst into tears.
…That was amazing. If Jason hadn't heard Bruce ask the question, or if he didn’t speak English like Damian, then he never would have suspected that the tears were fake. They were loud, dramatic, and heart-wrenchingly authentic. If the kid hadn't been a Bat, he would have made a wonderful actor.
Damian raised his head surreptitiously and peeked over at Tim. He gasped in his tiny little baby voice, then patted Jason’s cheek urgently.
“Ahki, help! Help!” Damian whispered.
Jason shook his head. He always helped Damian get out of punishments for stupid shit, but this time, they needed to prove just what the consequences of crying in the Wayne family were.
When Bruce turned toward Tim, Damian slapped Jason. “Help!”
Jason shook his head again. “No, Damian. Bruce help. Dad help.”
Damian snarled at Jason, and he looked like he would have started crying again if he wasn’t too scared.
Bruce made a sympathetic noise, greatly exaggerated, then stepped over to Tim.
Tim glanced quickly at Damian, then bawled. It was glorious.
Damian tugged on Jason’s hair with a vindictive little huff, then started wriggling in Jason’s hold. “Down. Down! Damian help.”
Bruce’s act stuttered for a moment, but he recovered by covering his laugh with a cough. He didn’t let his amusement stop him, though, from reaching out and folding Tim into a warm hug. Jason suppressed the twinge of jealousy. They were proving a point to Damian, and Tim getting hugs wasn’t taking away any hugs from Jason.
Tim’s sobs faded, until after a few seconds, he peeked past Bruce’s arm with a great big smile on his face. “Thank you, Bruce! I love hugs!”
Damian’s little eyes were wide. Jason took a risk and a step forward, then another, until they were right next to Bruce.
“Try it now,” Jason told him.
Bruce turned away from Tim, still holding him close in a one armed hug that the kid was melting into, and reached again for Damian with one hand. This time, Damian held still. Bruce let his hand hover just in front of Damian for a second before cupping the back of Damian’s head.
“Happy. Safe. You’re alright,” Bruce promised, then held out his arm out a little wider.
To Jason’s surprise, Damian pulled back only a moment before leaning forward and letting Bruce take him.
Bruce smiled and let go of Tim so he could hold Damian more securely against his chest. He cooed softly at his newest kid and rubbed firm circles on his back. Damian was tense at first, but he slowly, very slowly, relaxed.
The second Jason had relinquished Damian, Dick was on him again, clutching tightly, and Alfred wasn’t far behind, holding fiercely with trembling hands. Tim looked awkward as hell staring at them a bit away from the others, and…well, hell of an introduction.
“Come here, baby bird,” Jason sniffed, grabbing Tim and pulling him into the middle of the hug.
Tim yelped, but when Jason wrapped his arms around the kid, he sagged into the hold like he’d been starved of physical affection his entire life. That was…pretty cute, actually. Jason thought he could get used to having two little brothers.
“You have so much explaining to do,” Dick hissed in his ear, but the effect was ruined by the thickness in his voice.
“I promise,” Jason whispered back.
Bruce leaned against the huddle and carefully balanced Damian so he could wrap one arm around Jason’s neck and tug him into another hug, like he was trying to resume his goal of absorbing Jason into his own body. Jason was being tugged in three different directions, the awkward angles aching.
He never wanted to leave.
Jason's eyes burned with fresh tears. They could deal with the League later. That was a problem for tomorrow, after they had—no, they were never going to finish hugging, but as soon as they could stand to be away from each other for a few seconds at a time. Talia was never going to take them away, Ra’s was never going to take them away, the Joker was never going to take him away, never again.
Jason was finally, finally, home.
There was a polite cough from the other side of the room. “Am I interrupting—”