The child was smaller than any ten year old boy had a right to be. His huge blue eyes easily took up most of his face, and the soft strands of black hair on his head lifted gently in the soft wind. He was shaking; why wouldn’t he be? He had just seen his parents murdered in front of him.
Bruce fought down a surge of memory, looking at him. He had once been in the same situation once-- frightened and alone, images running through his head that no one, let alone a child, should have had to face.
The decision was already made; he had talked to Haly about it before approaching the child, and the older man had cast a sympathetic glance in the boy’s direction before saying, “He’ll grow up better with you than he will with us.”
Absently, Bruce thought that he should probably call Alfred, but that could all be handled later.
Bruce made his way over to the boy, weaving around policemen to crouch down in front of the child. The boy’s eyes were unfocused, but they were such a clear, strong blue that Bruce felt suddenly like he could see right through him.
“What’s your name?” he asked in a soft voice, trying not to spook the child in the same way one might try not to spook an injured bird.
The child’s eyes didn’t raise to meet Bruce’s, and when he answered, it sounded rehearsed, automatic, like he had introduced himself the same way countless times before so he didn’t have to think about it. He was probably miles away, locked inside his own head.
“I’m Richard Grayson,” the boy said in a flat voice. “But you can call me Dick.”
A sudden, violent shudder ran down Bruce’s spine, lanced out with a thousand arcs of electricity. The words on his hip-- the soulmark words that read “I’m Richard Grayson, but you can call me Dick”-- seemed to burn.
He had sought out Richard Grayson, of course he had, but there were countless Richard Graysons in the U.S. and he had been forced to give up. When he came here tonight, he had known that one of the Flying Graysons in the show was named Richard, but he had found his soulmate in his wife, and so Bruce hadn’t given it any thought--
But he hadn’t considered that the son would be named Richard Grayson, as well. Never in his wildest dreams would he have considered that a ten year old child was his soulmate.
Richard-- Dick-- hadn’t seemed to notice, in any case. He was in shock.
There was nothing else to it. Bruce was still going to adopt him, and since Dick hadn’t reacted, he didn’t know. It would have to stay that way. Bruce could go the rest of his life without being with his soulmate. He had to.
Dick would always wonder who his own soulmate was, but there was no helping it. It was how things had to be.
“Hello, Dick,” Bruce said. His voice was thankfully not shaking.
Alfred, of course, figured it out right away.
He knew what Bruce’s soulmark looked like-- he had practically raised Bruce, how could he not? So when Bruce introduced Dick, his neutral expression turned a little bit poker-face.
Later, he took Bruce aside and said, “Does he know, sir?”
Bruce scrubbed a hand over his face. He had set Dick up in one of the spare rooms at the manor, and the child had gone without protest. He was still in shock, but it was no longer life-threatening.
“No,” he said in a low voice. “And he can’t ever know. Never.”
Alfred nodded. Bruce could guess what he was thinking-- it was the right choice, but he felt grief at the idea of Bruce never being able to be with his soulmate. Alfred hadn’t said, but Bruce had long had the suspicion he was looking forwards to Bruce meeting his soulmate and finding the happiness in his life that he had so far lacked.
“Very good, sir.”
And that was it.
Dick was a fantastic Robin-- better than Bruce ever could have hoped for. He took to the life like a fish to water, and they became Batman and Robin, a crime-fighting unit unparalleled anywhere else.
Sometimes, he looked at Dick and thought, What if? But then he shut down that train of thought immediately. This was the closest they could ever get. It had to be.
Dick had no idea. He hardly talked about finding his soulmate, but when he did, it was always with a tone of wistfulness-- like he had yet to find them, but he was looking forwards to it. Meanwhile, Bruce had seen Dick’s soulmark countless times-- when he was bandaging Dick’s wounds from that night (which happened less and less as Dick got older), when Dick was changing in the Batcave, when he was swimming in the pool. It never failed to make Bruce’s own soulmark tingle where it wrapped around his hip.
He was careful never to change in front of Dick, quick to angle his torso away when his suit got ripped on a mission or damaged beyond repair. Dick had never seen Bruce’s soulmark, and he knew better than to ask about it.
The year Dick turned sixteen, Bruce could tell that his soulmate was on his mind, more often than not. It was only natural. Where before he had probably only felt an absent longing, it grew more intense as he got older. Bruce borrowed Dick’s computer once, and a page was open, an article about soulmarks-- specifically, what it meant if you couldn’t feel the gap in your life that the soulmate was supposed to fill. Everyone felt it until they found theirs, when it felt like something clicked into place.
Bruce clenched his jaw. Having found his soulmate, Dick wouldn’t feel that gap at all, and he was clearly starting to worry. Despite being trained by the world’s best detective, Dick never connected the dots, and for that, Bruce was grateful. But maybe he already knew, he just didn’t want to accept the truth.
When Dick was eighteen, Bruce fired him.
He regretted the way it happened afterwards. It was one of the hardest things he had ever had to do, but it was necessary. Dick needed to find his own path, to become something bigger than Robin. He was an adult now. He could make his own way.
Bruce followed his actions in Bludhaven closely. Nightwing was a formidable force, and one that Bruce was proud to have raised and trained.
Without Dick, though, his life did feel a little more empty. He repeated the mantra that had wound its way into his head years ago daily-- it was necessary, it was necessary, it was necessary.
He just wished sometimes that he didn’t feel so empty, if only because it meant that Dick felt the same way every day, and that was Bruce’s fault.
Occasionally, he dreamed about what it would be like, to kiss Dick and see his wry smile directed towards Bruce from a few inches away from his face. To touch the words on his hip, to hold Dick in his arms, to tell Dick that he loved him.
He always woke up from those dreams far too soon.
Tim said, “I found my soulmate.”
Bruce looked up from working on the Batmobile. The boy was standing a bit off to the side, arms crossed, mask off, but still in his suit.
“What?” Bruce said, because he genuinely hadn’t heard.
Tim repeated, “I found my soulmate. It’s Ko-- Superboy.”
Bruce put down the wrench.
“Congratulations,” he said automatically. His mind was miles away, with a man whose clear blue eyes pierced him to the bone.
Tim nodded. “I just thought, y’know. You should probably know.”
“Of course,” Bruce said. “Thank you for telling me.”
Jason was next.
The initial shock of him being alive had faded years ago, but he was still nervous around the younger man. Regretful. And Jason clearly disliked working with him, but he wasn’t outright hateful, like he used to be. The anger was still there, but he kept it cleverly hidden behind flint-sharp eyes and a posturing attitude.
“On your left, Bats,” Jason said, throwing a henchman over his shoulder and snapping the leg of another. The crack and the man’s answering scream echoed in the warehouse. Batman hurled a batarang into the goon’s thigh. He pulled it out and kept coming, firing a gun at Bruce with a shaking hand and horrible aim. Batman dispatched him with a sharp punch to the throat.
Later, after Black Mask and his gang was tied up in the warehouse and the GCPD was on their way, Batman swung up to the roof, where Jason was on the phone with someone.
“I know,” he was saying. “Yeah, whatever, weirdo.”
There was something in his voice that caught Bruce off guard. He sounded-- content.
Jason hung up and turned around, preparing to jump off the roof. “Later, Batsy.”
“Jason,” Bruce said. The man paused.
“Are you happy?” Bruce asked.
Jason hid his surprise well, but it was in his voice when he answered. “Getting there. I, uh-- I found my soulmate. A while ago.”
“Roy,” Bruce guessed. Jason shrugged.
“What can I say, I’m a sucker for redheads.”
Bruce didn’t exactly approve, but it wasn’t his place anymore, and besides, Roy and Jason worked well together-- but wait.
Batman narrowed his eyes at Jason. “Don’t you have two soulmarks?”
“Aha,” Jason said. “Yup. Bye.”
He made to swing off the roof, but Batman said, “Starfire,” and he paused once again.
“I guess you’ve still got your knack,” Jason said.
“Does Nightwing know?” Bruce asked.
Jason turned around. “Starfire told him. He took it fine. Something tells me he’s got his own soulmate to worry about.”
Bruce couldn’t see Jason’s eyes through the mask, but he could feel them, narrowed and calculating and searching his face for a reaction. He felt cold.
“I knew it,” Jason said in a low voice. “I fucking knew it. How could you go this long without Dick knowing?”
Bruce’s mind went blank. He had been so careful-- how did Jason figure it out?
“Oh, please,” Jason muttered, “don’t do that thing where you go all quiet and make people figure out what you’re thinking. I saw your soulmark one time during a mission, but I still wasn’t completely sure until now.”
“Jason,” Bruce started, but Jason held up a hand.
“You’ve got your reasons, I know. I won’t tell him. But seriously, the dude’s been looking for his soulmate for years. He thinks he’s got something wrong with him because he doesn’t feel empty. Of course, that would be because you two already found each other, he just doesn’t know.”
Bruce clenched his jaw. Jason left him like that, standing on the roof on a clear night, with a feeling in his chest like he would never be able to breathe again.
When he saw Dick after that, he acted exactly the same as he always did, so Bruce heaved a sigh of relief. Jason had kept his word.
Stephanie and Cass were next.
Cass couldn’t speak, but Steph’s words were around her bicep, and there was a curling series of lines in the same place on Steph’s arm in place of words. With each passing day, Bruce felt more and more like everyone around him was finding their soulmates, and he couldn’t be with his because of a wall of his own invention. Eventually, the wall had to come crashing down.
It happened on a cold night in October.
Nightwing and Batman were out on patrol alone together for the first time in a long time. It was a familiar routine. They still worked seamlessly together, able to communicate mostly without using the comm link.
A bomb left by the Joker went off in the sewers before they could get to it. Luckily, it was a small one, easily contained, but Batman and Nightwing were still flung backwards. Batman hit the ground and skidded along the metal, water sloshing around him; Nightwing hit his head on the wall and passed out.
Bruce’s ears were ringing. Hastily, he stood up and limped over to where Nightwing lay on the ground, feeling his pulse. It was still there, strong and steady. He was probably just concussed.
Upon quick inspection, Batman found that the bomb was an old one, probably planted as long ago as years. The Joker was still safely in Arkham (though who knew how long that would last).
He lifted Nightwing, who was still unconscious, and carried him out of the sewers, depositing him safely in the Batmobile.
Batman carefully kept track of the time. Nightwing had been unconscious for three and a half minutes. Anything longer than two minutes meant possible brain damage, but Dick had had worse injuries, and Bruce was confident that he would make it through with quick medical treatment.
When they got back to the Batcave, it was empty. Everyone was out on patrol and Alfred was upstairs. He didn't want to waste time calling for the butler when it was something he could handle himself.
Bruce pulled off Dick’s mask and yanked off his own cowl. He wrapped up the bleeding wound on Dick’s chest and pulled a piece of shrapnel out of Dick’s shoulder with tweezers, to which the man groaned. He kept his heartbeat controlled, his breath calm and hands steady. Focus on the activity at hand, Bruce told himself. Don't panic.
Dick started to stir just as Bruce was finishing. A scan of his brain proved that there was no lasting damage, not even a concussion, which was a stroke of luck.
“Bruce?” He slurred, blinking blearily. His blue eyes were hazy, but they focused quickly on Bruce’s face, sharpened with alarm. “You’re bleeding.”
Bruce frowned and suddenly became aware that there was blood trickling down the side of his nose. “It’s just a cut.”
“You--” Dick’s eyes traveled down, and they rested on his stomach, where part of the suit was torn away. He hadn’t worn the best armored one that night. Luckily, the armor it did have protected his skin from the worst of the damage.
Dick lifted a hand and pulled part of the suit away. Bruce realized a beat too late that it had torn open all the way to his hip, exposing part of his soul mark-- in exactly the same place as Dick’s, with the words “Richard Grayson” visible.
Bruce pulled back quickly, heart pounding, but it was too late. The damage had been done.
Dick pushed himself up. His jaw was clenched, and he was staring at the still-exposed area of Bruce’s hip.
He said slowly, “Why have you never shown me your soulmark?”
Bruce tried to speak, but whatever excuse he had been about to make caught in his throat. He suddenly couldn’t breathe.
“Bruce,” Dick said urgently. “What does your soulmark say?”
Bruce swallowed, but he couldn’t move as Dick reached out, his cool fingers brushing Bruce’s skin and pulling at his uniform until the whole mark was visible. His hands, Bruce could feel, were shaking at Bruce’s hip.
He stared at the soulmark and Bruce stared down at him. He felt a little like his whole world was crashing down around him.
“I couldn’t remember what happened that night,” Dick murmured. “I blocked it out, I didn’t realize--”
Bruce closed his eyes.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Dick’s voice was shaking. He was tracing Bruce’s soulmark with his fingers, sending shivers down Bruce’s spine.
“I couldn’t,” Bruce said softly.
“You knew,” he said, “this whole time. You knew and you kept this from me. That wasn’t your choice to make, Bruce.”
“Dick,” Bruce said helplessly.
Dick swung his legs over the side of the table and put his head in his hands. Where before Bruce had thought that his fingers were cold, he realized now that they were warm, burning hot, and once they were gone, he felt freezing.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” His voice was muffled through his hands, and he took them away from his face, clasped them together in his lap. He couldn’t meet Bruce’s eyes.
“I’m sorry,” Bruce said. It was all he could think to say. His ears were ringing.
“You’re sorry,” Dick said, with a choked-off laugh.
“I,” Bruce started. He didn’t know what to say to reassure the shaking man in front of him. “You were a child, I didn’t know what to do--”
“I’m not a child anymore, Bruce! I haven’t been a child in years!” Dick sounded like he would have been angry if he wasn’t so stunned.
“I know,” Bruce said softly. “I thought you wouldn’t want--”
“You thought wrong,” Dick said, finally looking up. His eyes were helpless. Bruce felt like he was drifting in a sea of blue, unsure which way was up and which way was down.
“Say something,” Dick said, and Bruce realized that he had been quiet for a beat too long. “Say something, Bruce, please.”
Bruce swallowed and said the first thing that popped into his head. “Can I see your soulmark?”
Dick’s eyebrows furrowed, but he pulled the top half of his costume off the rest of the way, wincing when the movement pulled at his injuries, and twisted so Bruce could see the soulmark wrapping around his hip.
He’d seen it before, but it felt like the first time, here and now, in the Batcave at night. Bruce suddenly felt like he was on fire. He had thought that this would never be happening, that he would never get to have this conversation, and now that it was here, he didn’t know what to do, what to say. His meticulous planning and backup plans had no place here. He felt utterly exposed, even though he was the one who was still wearing most of his suit.
He raised his eyes back to Dick’s face. Dick was looking back at him with a complicated look in his eyes.
Slowly, Dick raised a hand, gently touched Bruce’s jaw, and pressed his palm to Bruce’s cheek. His skin burned wherever Dick touched, but he couldn’t move, was utterly frozen in place as Dick leaned forwards and pressed his lips to Bruce’s.
The moment crystallized. Bruce felt more alive than he had in years, ever since first meeting Dick on that fateful day at the circus. All of that, all his years of denial, had led to this moment, and Bruce didn’t want to fight against it anymore.
He pushed back against Dick, kissing him the way he had always wanted to, running his fingers through Dick’s soft black hair. Dick gasped against his mouth and it was the most beautiful sound Bruce had ever heard.
He pulled back, holding Dick’s face between his hands and staring at his suddenly dark eyes, his mouth slightly swollen from kissing. There was a feeling in his heart like electricity, or a nuclear bomb.
“Oh,” Dick said. His voice was breathless. He leaned forwards to kiss Bruce again, and Bruce gripped his hips, pulling him closer against him. Dick was only too happy to oblige; he wrapped his legs around Bruce’s waist and kissed Bruce again.
Bruce broke the kiss and leaned down to nip at Dick’s neck. “Bedroom,” he growled against his shoulder, and Dick swallowed.
They ended up in Bruce’s bedroom since Dick didn’t technically live at the manor anymore. Once the door was shut and locked, Bruce turned to look at Dick-- who looked thoroughly ravished, with his hair sticking up all over from Bruce running his hands through it, and his suit only half on, but his face was ethereal and beautiful in the moonlight coming in through the window, and Bruce felt again like he was drowning and burning at the same time.
Dick’s mouth quirked up in a hesitant smile. That was all it took for Bruce to back him up against the bed and kiss him with a groan he couldn’t quite contain. Dick wrapped his arms around Bruce’s neck and kissed him back, before he sat on the bed, half-pushed by Bruce, knees spread and eyes heavy lidded with lust.
“Do you want--” Bruce started, but Dick was already nodding vigorously.
“Yes, oh God, yes,” he said. Bruce pushed Dick back by his shoulders until he was laying back on the bed, with Bruce’s knees on either side of his hips and his hands gripping the underside of his thighs.
Bruce leaned forwards and kissed Dick (it felt like he would never be able to get enough of kissing Dick, because now that he had started, it was so difficult to stop) before he started mouthing his way down Dick’s throat and chest, carefully avoiding Dick’s injuries. The man’s strangled moans that he was clearly trying to contain got louder the lower Bruce’s mouth went, until he kissed Dick’s soulmark, and then Dick started squirming against him, hips bucking. There was a distinct bulge in his pants.
Bruce pulled Dick’s pants down and tossed them aside before yanking the top half of his own suit off (what was left of it). Dick made a breathy noise, and Bruce looked up-- his eyes were open, staring at Bruce, and his lower lip was caught between his teeth, and Bruce wasn’t going to last if he kept looking at him like that.
He started undoing his belt and Dick, growing impatient, sat up and yanked it off. His slender fingers curled around the waist of Bruce’s pants and started to pull them down, but Bruce caught at Dick’s wrists, stopping him.
“Dick,” Bruce said. “Are you sure?” He was giving him an out, in case this wasn’t what he wanted, or if he was repulsed or felt forced somehow.
Dick touched Bruce’s soulmark, making Bruce shiver, and said, “I’ve never been more certain of anything in my entire life.”
There was a loose feeling of relief spreading through Bruce’s chest. He pulled Dick back so he was lying on the bed with his wrists held on either side of his head. Dick’s pupils were blown huge, obscuring all the blue in his eyes except for a thin ring. Bruce released one of his wrists and traced the outside of Dick’s mouth with two fingers, before Dick opened his mouth and sucked on them, eyes never leaving Bruce’s.
The electricity in Bruce’s chest moved down to the pit of his stomach. He sat back and lifted Dick’s hips, pulling his fingers from Dick’s mouth and carefully pressing one over Dick’s hole, before pushing it in.
Dick gasped and pressed up against Bruce’s hand. Bruce took that as an invitation to do more, so he pushed another finger in, and then another, surprised at how well Dick took it. He was helplessly bucking his hips, crying out whenever Bruce crooked the fingers, until his fingers touched something and Dick let out an actual whine.
“Please, Bruce, please,” he begged.
Bruce bit hard on his lip and leaned down, kissing carefully down Dick’s thighs, nipping gently around his pelvis. He was teasing, he knew that, and Dick’s noises were starting to become more desperate.
“Bruce,” Dick cried.
Bruce gripped Dick’s thighs once more and lifted him up so he could ease into him slowly, excruciatingly slowly. Even so, Dick gave a gasp of relief once Bruce was completely in him-- he was so tight and hot, Bruce had never felt like this with anyone-- and bent his legs towards his chest. All that flexibility was coming in handy, Bruce noted once he could form coherent thoughts. Dick’s eyes were squeezed closed, and he looked absolutely wrecked, half-formed begs falling from his lips as Bruce started to thrust in him. He wouldn’t have guessed that Dick was so loud in bed, but it was doing something to him, sending fresh sparks down his spine with each noise Dick made.
He started to thrust harder and was rewarded with Dick fisting his hands in the bedsheets and tugging at them, mouth open with abandon.
“God,” Dick gasped, “fuck, Bruce, yes-- fuck!”
Bruce found an angle that brushed up right against Dick’s prostate. Suddenly, his noises got more garbled, less words. Bruce couldn’t stop watching Dick’s face, striped with moonlight and gleaming a little bit with sweat on his temples.
He thrust harder-- the friction, the pressure, it was all-consuming-- against Dick’s prostate, and then Dick came with a low moan, streaking cum all over his chest. Bruce couldn’t hold back anymore, and he thrust once more before coming inside Dick, gripping Dick’s hips tightly as he did so.
They were both breathing heavily. Bruce lay next to Dick, tracing his face with his eyes until Dick turned over so they were nose-to-nose and pressed a hand to Bruce’s jaw. His eyes were still heavy-lidded, but Bruce suspected it had more to do with tiredness now.
He felt like he should say something, but Dick smiled, that familiar quirk of eyebrows and lips, and Bruce was home, he was whole, this was right. Bruce pressed against Dick, wrapping his arms around him, noting that they should probably clean off but they could do it in the morning.
He fell asleep like that, with his soulmate in his arms.
When he woke up, Dick was still there. Bruce wished he wasn’t surprised, but somehow he had felt like Dick might leave, like Bruce himself had done on a few occasions with others. Not that they mattered-- every past relationship he had ever had paled in comparison with the warm breath on his chest, the tousled black hair, the lean body with Bruce’s words written on his hip. Grounding and real and not a dream, for once.
Bruce stroked Dick’s hair softly. After a moment, he opened his eyes, blinking blearily, before raising them to meet Bruce’s. “Morning,” he said. Bruce pressed a kiss to his forehead, to which Dick snorted at softly.
“Sap,” he said, before doing the exact same thing to Bruce. “We should probably shower.” He grinned and pressed his face into Bruce’s chest.
Bruce ran his fingers lightly over Dick’s soul words once more. He felt lightheaded.
“Let’s do that.”
They went down for breakfast after. Bruce realized too late that they should have come down one at a time, but by that time, Dick was already pouring himself coffee (wearing one of Bruce’s shirts and pants, which, shit, he should have also noticed earlier) and Tim was staring openmouthed at the two of them, looking back and forth. Damian was scowling at the table, but he scowled at everything. Alfred was in the dining room dusting.
“Wait,” Tim said. “Hold up.”
Dick froze in an almost comical position, with his coffee cup halfway to his mouth. Panic sparked in his eyes. Bruce felt similarly.
“You didn’t,” Tim said slowly. “Please tell me you didn’t.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Bruce said, but it was too late. Tim had always been the smartest one.
“Oh my God,” he groaned, putting his face in his hands. “I am going to need so much therapy. Bruce, how could you?”
“It’s not like that,” Dick said quickly. Damian was looking at the scene, clearly trying to connect the dots in his own brain.
“Father,” he started.
“How long has this been going on?” Tim interrupted, looking stricken.
“Just last night,” Bruce snapped, “I would never take advantage of him while he still lived here.”
Damian dropped his fork in a rare display of shock as he finally figured it out. Meanwhile, Tim looked slightly appeased, but still upset. “I don’t get it, why--”
Dick set his coffee cup down and pulled his (Bruce’s) shirt up, exposing his soulmark. He cast a look at Bruce across the kitchen, silently telling him to do the same. Bruce exhaled through his nose and lifted his shirt.
If he had a camera, or if this situation was less serious, he would have taken a picture of Tim and Damian’s identical faces of disbelief and surprise.
“Father!” Damian spluttered, breaking the tense silence. Tim was staring at the wall with round eyes.
Alfred came into the room, no doubt curious about the disturbance. He raised an eyebrow at the scene. “Care to explain, Master Bruce?”
Bruce dropped his shirt and pinched the bridge of his nose. Dick said, sounding sheepish, “Hi, Alfred.”
“Dick found out,” Bruce said quietly. Dick started next to him.
“Wait, Alfred knew this whole time too? Alfred!” He shot an accusatory glance at the butler.
“I agreed to keep it secret for your safety, sir. My apologies. Though now, I suppose the cat is out of the bag, as they say.”
“Who else knows?” Dick squawked.
“Um,” Bruce said. “Jason?”
Dick took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “You told Jason. Jason, of all people.”
“Well, he found out,” Bruce said, stepping towards Dick, who looked dangerously red-faced and was glaring daggers at the wall.
“Now that Master Dick is of age, sir, and he is content with the situation, I give my blessing,” Alfred said.
“Thank you, Alfred,” Bruce said quietly. The butler nodded and went back into the dining room to finish his dusting.
Damian asked, “Why didn’t you say that your soulmate was Grayson, Father?”
“It-- the situation was complicated,” Bruce said. Tim finally tore his eyes away from the wall.
“Everything makes so much sense,” he said faintly. “I can’t believe I have to tell Superman that he was right.”
“What,” Bruce said.
“Nothing?” Tim grimaced. “Something Kon mentioned once, I-- forget it.” He busied himself with his pancakes.
“We’re going to talk about this,” Bruce told him. Tim said, “Sorry, pancakes,” and shoved an entire one in his mouth.
Dick threw up his hands. “Does anyone else have anything to say!”
Steph, who came into the room suddenly and observed the kitchen with a practiced eye, said, “I’m glad you guys finally worked it out.”
“DID YOU KNOW TOO,” Dick shouted. Steph shrugged.
“I’m around here a lot, I pick up things. It wasn’t hard to figure out.”
Bruce didn’t even know Steph had stayed the night, much less that she had figured out he and Dick were soulmates-- but in his defense, he had been a little distracted last night. He eyed the t-shirt she wore, which he recognized as one of Cass’s, and thought that maybe Dick wasn’t the only clothes-stealer in his house.
“I’m happy for you guys,” Tim said faintly. “I actually am. I’m, um, going to need a little bit to process this though.”
“Uh, thanks,” Bruce said. Steph stole one of Tim’s sausages and left the room to his indignant noise.
Dick started laughing. Bruce looked over at him in alarm, but he looked genuinely happy in the early morning light of the kitchen. He grinned over at Bruce. Bruce would do anything for that smile. He was breathless just looking at him.
“Father,” Damian said. Bruce flinched and looked over at his son. “You two are disgusting but I suppose I will have to deal with it. Can I have your pancakes?”
Bruce slid his plate over to Damian. He hadn’t thought he would have to tell everyone at once, but they were taking it better than he thought they would, and he was happier than he had been in a very long time.
“I want another dog,” Damian said, digging into the pancakes. “And a snake.”
“No snake, but we can do another dog,” Bruce said. Damian shrugged.
Dick was chuckling again. He touched Bruce’s shoulder briefly as he passed. “I’m going to head back to my place.”
“Already?” Bruce asked, unable to keep a tone of disappointment out of his voice. Dick grinned at him.
“I need clothes, Bruce, and a bag if I’m going to stay here again tonight.”
Bruce ignored Tim mock-gagging behind him and said, “Sounds good.”
He looked back at the table when Dick had left, trying not to feel bereft now that he was gone, and said, “Damian, don’t try and eat so much at once.”
“Tch,” the boy said, slowing his pace enough to be just reasonable.
Bruce sat down at the counter and reached towards the coffeepot.
“I live here too,” Duke said from the door. “What’s going on?”
Thanks for reading!