Damian does not understand the concept of anniversaries. Unfortunately, the giant man-child he’s dating loves them and has been quite insistent that they have one.
“It’s not as though I like you any less the rest of the year, or any more on the day we first kissed,” Damian grouses to Dick over the phone. He’s wandering through Macy’s because he hasn’t the first clue what the hell he’s supposed to be buying or why.
“First anniversary is paper,” Dick says helpfully.
“Oh, well, that really narrows it down to lame,” Damian shoots back. Dick had picked the day, after hemming and hawing, the anniversary of the day Damian had first kissed him (in Dick’s bedroom, and Dick had thrown him out, but Damian’s a ‘stubborn little fucker’ - Drake’s words, and not meant as a compliment, but Damian chooses to take it that way - and he’d come right back the next day and done some expert convincing. Specifically, he’d convinced Dick that his mouth was very very talented).
Dick’s laughing, the sound warm and breathy in his ear. “It’s the thought that counts.”
“Tt. People say that but they never mean it. You’re expecting me to somehow pick out the perfect gift for an arbitrarily chosen date. Remind me again what the point of this is?”
“The point is sometimes we -everyone, not just the two of us - forget to acknowledge that we care for each other-” Damian makes gagging noises- “-stop that. Don’t make me feel any more like I’m robbing the cradle than I already am.”
“Isn’t it my job to make you feel younger than you are?”
“Damian.” Damian can picture Dick’s heavenward glance. “Just humor me and buy something, okay?”
“Fine.” Damian gives up and buys the kama sutra (it’s paper!), then regrets it three hours later. Fuck, he’s gotta get this right.
Damian’s a little weird about gift giving. It was not a point of emphasis in the al Ghul household, to say the least. The whole ritual of opening, thanking, pretending to be surprised, pretending you like it if you don’t, watching while the other person opens - there’s really nothing about it that isn’t awkward for him.
Still, he’s hopeful about this gift. Wrapping is stupid and wasteful but he humored Dick just a little by tying up the poster with a ribbon.
Dick unrolls it and he’s genuinely taken by surprise. “It’s-” he runs his fingers over the bright colors of the poster from Haly’s of the Flying Graysons.
Dick’s copy is old and faded, well-loved, and Damian hadn’t dared touch it. Instead he’d found a copy on ebay in even worse condition and taken it to an expert in reproductions (the man was a former and possibly current forger, but Damian overlooked the current part, just this once). The expert had created a perfect duplicate, at least to Damian’s eye.
He doesn’t tell Dick any of that, though, just lets a slight smile curl his lips upwards. “I have my ways.”
Dick manages to shimmy into the very, very tight leather pants, and then turns to find Damian staring. “I’m not sure these are a present for me.”
Damian smirks at him and makes no attempt to disguise the fact that he’s ogling Dick’s ass. “Those are a present for both of us. Hell, I think those might be a present to the entire world.”
Their anniversary, no matter which one they count, tends to fall around Damian’s birthday. On Damian’s twenty first, Dick buys him a bottle of expensive wine. Dick sprawls on the couch, Damian sprawls on Dick, and they pass the bottle back and forth, drinking straight out of it.
“Bruce would have a fit if he could see us now.”
Damian chortles. “I assume you refer to his general disapproval of things like alcohol and drinking straight from the bottle, carton, whatever, and not to the fact that his eldest is porking his youngest.”
Dick pinches Damian’s ass. “Don’t be crude.”
Damian smirks up at him. “Oh, I can be a lot cruder than that.” Damian kisses Dick fast and hard, the taste of sweet Riesling on his lips.
“You bought us a house.” Damian’s voice is a bit incredulous. “I can’t move in with you.”
“Half my dresser drawers have your stuff in them right now.”
“Well, you certainly weren’t using them. Apparently that’s what your floor is for.”
Dick aims a half-hearted punch at Damian’s shoulder, which he dodges easily.
“So,” Dick says. “You want to take a look?”
Damian sighs. “Fine, I suppose. Though I don’t understand why what we had doesn’t work.”
“That was my place, where you happened to be living, as evidenced by your stuff in my drawers. I want this to be our place.”
The house is newly remodeled, but sparse and almost empty except for the humongous four poster in the master bedroom. Damian raises a brow at Dick.
“Most important part of the house, Damian.”
Damian admits he has a contrary streak at times. He grabs Dick and turns him, pressing him face first into the wall. “The most important part of the house is your ass,” he growls, biting Dick’s ear.
Dick laughs and presses back into Damian. “I can think of a couple other parts,” he replies.
They don’t make it to the bed.
Damian has always been half-convinced that Dick will disappear or leave. His mother sent him to stay with his father, and then saw it as a betrayal that he stayed. Drake didn’t want him around, the TItans saw him as a usurper, and even his father didn’t trust him a significant portion of the time. So part of him is always waiting for the other shoe.
For their eleventh anniversary, Damian purchases a beautiful historical sword. No matter what he’d initially thought, Dick is more than worthy to own such a weapon.
Dick opens a small jewelry box to reveal two small rings. “One of the strongest alloys known to man,” he says.
Damian’s torn between “Fuck, how did I of all people end up with the biggest sap on the planet” and “Fuck, did Dick just ask me to marry him?”
“You’re an ass, you can’t just spring that on someone!” he says.
“Actually, that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do.” Dick sounds amused.
“Tt!” Damian stalks off, stiff.
He slinks back, five minutes later. “We don’t have to do a stupid ceremony, right?”
Dick still looks amused, damn him. “Not if you don’t want to.”
“And what use is it, anyway? It doesn’t really mean anything. Not really.”
Dick’s expression turns to serious and he reels Damian in with an arm around his waist. “It means I’m never leaving. It means you get to put something on my finger that means I’m yours and only yours and you don’t have to share me with anyone.”
Dick’s playing him like a fiddle but Damian doesn’t really care because it sounds very appealing. “And we don’t have to do anything but put the rings on, right?”
“Well, we might have to tell Bruce we’re not just roommates, or whatever Bruce thinks we are. But we can do it however you want, with one small condition - I get to put the ring on you. It is my marriage too, so I get that one little thing.”
Damian huffs. “Sap.” But he takes the ring from Dick and slides it on his finger before holding up his hand.
“Other one,” Dick says, voice warm, and takes Damian’s right hand between his own, sliding the ring onto it. He draws Damian’s hand up and kisses the tip of his ring finger, then his palm just below it.
“I said no sappiness.”
“You said no such thing.”
“It was implied.”
“It’s just one of those things about me you’re going to have to deal with.” Dick is, in Damian’s opinion, smiling like an idiot.
Damian’s only smiling a little. Not like an idiot at all.
Damian’s a possessive creature, but he doesn’t mind other people looking at Dick - in fact, he seems to enjoy it. Dick’s not sure how he feels about being the trophy wife, especially because the one time he’d brought it up, Damian had called Dick a “very distinguished older gentleman,” probably just to needle him. Especially since Dick is no gentleman.
“They’re all going to be looking at you tonight,” Damian murmurs, buttoning Dick’s shirt up, slowly. The silk is cool against Dick’s skin and the brushes of Damian’s fingers are sending little shivers down his spine. “I’m going to enjoy knowing that they’re all watching but I’m the only one who’s allowed to touch. Knowing how jealous they’ll be.” His lips brush against Dick’s ear.
Well. When Damian puts it like that, being a trophy husband is rather appealing.
They come to see him, one by one, like they’d planned it - his father, Stephanie, his teammates, former teammates. And Damian is angry - so angry- about everything, but mostly that they think there’s anything that could possibly make this better. He can’t even cry because it feels inadequate, because he can’t make it come.
So when Drake shows up at the grave, Damian’s beyond prepared to stab him, but he doesn’t say anything, just looks at it, face tense, and then Damian remembers that he loved Dick, too.
“Not going to say anything pithy?” he says anyway, still biting. If he hears one more person say that he just needs time, he is going to stab that person.
“The great catch-22 of this situation,” Drake says, “is that the one person who would know what to say is the one person who can’t.”
“Tt,” Damian says, because that was pithy, but also true. He remembers that Drake has the worst luck with loved ones, even for someone in their profession. That he’s lost two fathers and two lovers that Damian knows about, and not everyone came back. “What did you do?” Damian’s shattered.
“All the queen’s horses and all the queen’s men,” Drake says, like he’s reading Damian’s thoughts. “Talk to him. Imagine what he’d say, because you know. Let him talk back. And maybe boss you around a little. It won’t ever be better, but it will be less sharp.”
Damian is quiet for a long moment; he senses Drake leave behind him and when he looks up again, he’s all alone. He sinks down and rests his forehead against the headstone. “I...I was trying to guess what you’d come up with for a crystal present. Probably something purposely awful. A hideous centerpiece for the table?” He laughs hoarsely, because he wants it to be funny. And it would be, if Dick wasn’t dead.
“I love you, you stupid reckless idiot. Please come back to me.” He closes his eyes and lets the tears fall into the earth.
Damian is still fragile and angry with Dick for dying. Dick doesn’t remember time passing so in his mind, it’s still their fifteenth. For Damian, it’s their eighteenth.
He feels like a crazy person, but he still has conversations with Dick in his head. “Furniture? Who came up with that one?” he asks his imaginary Dick. Dick responds that it was probably the furniture industry. Also, he’s sorry that he missed the furniture anniversary. He could have bought Damian an even more ostentatious bed than the one they already have.
“You are so annoying,” Damian informs his imagination.
“Who are you talking to?” the real Dick asks, sticking his head into the bedroom. He looks younger than Damian remembered him when he died; he’s fairly sure it’s not his imagination and the magic that had brought Dick back also returned him younger than he ought to have been. Or maybe he’s just forgotten, or he expects someone who came back from the dead to have aged three years.
“To whom are you talking,” Damian corrects, just to annoy Dick.
“What were you talking about,” Dick shoots back, probably just to annoy Damian.
Damian rolls his eyes. “I was talking to you,” he finally answers, because if there are a few small things he’s proud of, one is that he’s rarely told Dick more than a white lie.
“To- oh,” Dick says. He comes over, pulls Damian into his arms. “What did I have to say?”
“That you wanted to buy me a ridiculous bed. For the furniture anniversary.”
Dick wedges them both into an armchair. “How about a cuddling chair?”
Damian rolls his eyes. “If you must.”
Dick hums, kisses Damian’s neck. “I love you, Damian. And if I kept myself out of danger I’d not be the man you want. I can’t promise I’ll never die again but if it’s in my power, I’ll always return to you. I wouldn’t let anything keep me away. Even if I was hurt or dead or furious with you.”
“Oh,” Damian says, and tucks himself into the space under Dick’s chin, even though he’s long been far too large for this to work comfortably.
“And I’m sorry I missed furniture. I know how much you wanted that bed. How about I buy you an appropriately hideous knick knack made of porcelain to make up for it?”
“Sounds great.” His hands are still tangled in Dick’s shirt, because this is what he really wants.
Dick kisses his hair. “Or maybe a tea set. Alfred did rub off on you in at least one way, after all.”
“Tea is a civilized drink. That’s why none of Gotham’s criminals ever drink it.”
He can feel Dick’s smile. “You’re right, not a one.”
In the end Dick compromises by buying him a hideous tea set.
Dick’s head is in Damian’s lap, Damian prodding gently at the goose egg on Dick’s head (not even from something cool - his bad ankle had given him a fall against the counter) when his fingers slow and start stroking through Dick’s hair. While it feels nice and soothing, the way Damian’s fingers are moving, and shifting Dick’s hair slowly through his fingers, Dick gets the impression that he’s being studied.
“Damian?” Dick questions, tilting his head (slowly) to look at Damian.
“You can’t get any more concussions,” Damian says. “Not unless you’ll let me put you in a Lazarus Pit.” There’s something in his tone that worries Dick - something of the time when Dick had first come back, and Damian had reverted back to the rough edges of a hurt and lonely child.
“Damian, what is it?” Dick asks, because it’s not just that Dick’s hit his head again (though it’s a miracle any of them remembers anything, really).
“I love you,” Damian says, and Dick nearly shoots off the bed. He must spend just a moment too long gaping at Damian, because he finally snaps, “What?”
“You love me.”
Dick is kind of grinning like an idiot now. “Damian. You moved in with me. You married me. I died in your arms. I came back. We’ve been together for twenty five years and that’s the first time you’ve ever said that you love me. You’ve said you love me in silk, that you love how flexible I am, that you married for love. But you’ve never said ‘I love you.’”
“Tt. You’re so verbal, Dick. Of course I have. Has Cassandra taught you nothing? What did you think I meant when I agreed to marry you? Didn’t you notice that when you died you broke my heart and I’m still putting the pieces back together?”
Dick shifts carefully to sit up and wrap his arms around Damian. “Sometimes some of us crave the reassurance of an explicit statement. So why now?”
Damian shrugged, uncomfortable. “I don’t know, Dick. I figured I’d say it once every twenty five years or so, okay?”
Dick raises an eyebrow, because they’d not exactly gotten into this conversation out of the blue.
There’s a long pause, but he learned long ago to wait Bruce out and not so much more recently that the same trick will sometimes work with Damian.
“You’re hair’s half gray,” Damian finally answers.
Dick feels his mouth quirk into a half smile. “Regretting marrying an older guy now, are you?” he asks, trying to ignore the slight sting. His hair had been a major vanity when he was younger and he forgets sometimes how much of it has changed.
“I regret that you’re older,” Damian says. “If you asked me to marry you again, I would.”
Dick sits up and grins. “Damian, are you asking me to renew our vows?”
Damian scowls. “That silliness was bad enough the first time,” he says.
Dick knows he means the ceremony, not the marriage itself, so he just laughs and wraps his arm around Damian’s waist. “Come here and let me show you how old I’m not,” he says, planting his lips on his favorite spot just under Damian’s jaw.
“You’re hurt.” He can feel Damian scowling.
“It’s amazing what a mother hen you are,” Dick says, kissing a little lower down Damian’s neck.
“Believe it or not...hm...it’s not sexy to barf all over because you’re concussed.”
Dick grins and tumbles back onto the pillows, taking Damian with him. “How about I just lie back and think of England?”
Damian sighs and pecks Dick on the nose. “You’d better not be thinking of England. You’d better not be thinking of anything at all.”
“No thinking.” Dick smiles. “And I love you, too.”