For years at the Wayne Enterprises fundraisers, there have been whispers about what a heartbreaker little Dickie Grayson will be when he grows up. Bruce had heard the same about all his boys. And while they have their issues, none of them appear interested in heartbreaking. In fact, from Damian all the way down to Jason, Bruce doesn’t remember ever meeting a significant other. Clark would tell him it’s because he’s intimidating. But honestly, if anyone could date his boys, Bruce is pretty sure they could handle one of his interrogations.
Dick Grayson at fourteen is gangly, awkward and judging by his taste in clothes, quite possibly color blind. He’s also tactile, young, and if Clark is to be believed a normal, red-blooded teenage boy.
Which Bruce is pretty sure is code for horny.
He’s been dreading this for ages. Ever since Robin set eyes on Poison Ivy and nearly swung himself into a building. Dick. Who is more at home in the air than with two feet on the ground.
When did his youngest start to grow up?
“It has come to my attention,” Bruce starts, “that you may have some interest in dating.”
Dick turns as red as the Robin costume. “You heard about me and Kori.”
Bruce absolutely has not heard about Dick and Starfire.
He crosses his arms anyway and raises an eyebrow.
Dick looks down bitterly. “Of course Batman’s heard about my dating life.”
“I’ve been advised that the best time to talk to your children about their dating life is before it becomes their sex life.”
Bruce stares back.
He’s never done this before. Talia insisted she give Damian the talk. Tim was… is the type to research anything he’d want to know about the subject. Jason had seen enough on the streets that he never bothered to ask.
Bruce swallows and breaks the silence. “Do you have any questions?”
“I assume—” Hope. Pray. “—you covered most of it in health class.”
“Health class said to resist your urges or there’s a good chance the girl could get pregnant.” Dick hesitates. “And that too much sex leads to STDs.”
“That’s…” Bruce closes his eyes. He needs to make sure some of his yearly donation to Gotham Academy is ear-marked specifically for health class. “Not entirely accurate. I dislike the idea of you becoming sexually active at your age, but between Tim and Jason, I’ve learned that forbidding something is the easiest way to entice you into trying it. I can only hope that if you have intercourse, it is with someone for whom you have a great deal of love and respect. Additionally, if you feel the need feel the need for this kind of experimentation, it’s important that you are safe about it. Do you understand?”
Dick frowns. “No.”
He doesn’t elaborate, can’t even meet Bruce’s eyes. Bruce can’t foresee a resolution that doesn’t involve a complete breakdown of communication. That is unacceptable for Batman and Robin in the field. “Would you feel more comfortable discussing this with one of your brothers?”
“Yes,” Dick replies immediately.
Bruce nods, relieved. “I will make sure that Damian expects your questions.”
It’s always a little strange to see someone else wearing his costume. Then again Damian’s creation of Robin had been almost entirely accidental. His original costume design was meant to evoke a different bird. But Jim Gordon took one look at the ten-year-old who wanted to be called Raptor and said, He barely looks big enough to be a Robin. The name, unfortunately, has stuck.
Grayson’s version of the costume is a departure from Damian’s days. The hood’s gone. So are the wings that Drake was so fond of. The cape’s bright yellow now, and instead of sturdy combat boots and knee pads over leggings, Robin wears pixie boots. And that’s not even the worst of it.
The first change Grayson made to the Robin costume was to shuck the leggings for a leotard under the tunic. Damian should have seen this coming. Grayson had exhibitionist tendencies from the start.
“Let me get this straight. Father sent you to me for advice on fornication.”
“He used different words,” Grayson says, “but yeah?”
“Why?” Damian asks.
Grayson swings his legs out over the roof’s ledge, chewing on his lip. “Because it’s less awkward to talk about sex with your brother than it is with Batman.”
“I’ve been Batman,” Damian says. “And if the costume is the problem, why did you wait to ask until we’re in costume to ask?”
“No names in the field, Robin.”
“Fine.” He crosses his arms. “Nightwing. You said you had advice.”
“On sex?” Damian hopes to God Stephanie isn’t online yet. She’d never let him life this down. “There are always better things to do than sex.”
“Kid Flash says…”
“Kid Flash has even lower mental abilities than Impulse. Trust me. There are things far more worthy of your time.”
“But, ‘Wing,” Grayson pleads.
Damian hears a gunshot in the distance. He feels them both snap into their roles as they leave the conversation to die.
Always better things to do.
“I have a favor to ask.”
Red Hood spins around, training a gun on Damian. “I’m not in the business of favors. Especially not with you, Nightwing.”
“It’s about Robin.”
“I’m definitely not in the business of doing favors for Robins.” Red Hood knocks the safety off.
Damian throws a batarang. It lodges in the barrel. Red Hood throws the gun. The butt of the gun bounces off Damian’s forehead and Red Hood lunges forward with a knife. Damian dodges back enough so the swing forces Red Hood to overbalance. Only Hood accepts the motion, dropping low in an effort to sweep Damian’s feet.
Damian jumps the swipe and raises a hand. “For God’s sake, Hood, he was asking me about sex.”
Red Hood stops. After a second, he reaches up to undo the latch on his helmet. Damian catches the briefest glimpse of what has to be a heads up display. He files the intel away for the future.
Damian still remembers the bolt of hatred the first time he’d seen Tim Drake wearing the Robin costume after months away from Gotham. He’d permanently abandoned his mother and her plans for him and come back to the city expecting relief and acceptance.
Only to find that father had slotted someone less volatile into his role.
What Drake lacked in training, he’d more than made up for in detective skills. The wide-eyed boy behind the camera hardened after death, an encounter with the Lazarus pit and more-time-than-healthy training with Damian’s family. He has fresh scars, a perpetually bland expression, and is always, always, plotting.
Damian is ashamed to admit that understands this version of Tim Drake far better than the boy he’d met all those years ago.
Drake pushes his sweaty hair back from his face. “Dick Grayson asked you about sex.”
“I don’t see how there was anything unclear about my first statement.”
Drake smiles and Damian finds himself blown away. He hasn’t seen that expression since Drake was Robin. But he remembers it. How Tim Drake made Robin the lightness to counteract Batman’s dark.
“You didn’t have anything to tell him.” Drake’s smile stretches into a genuine grin. “Or you wouldn’t be coming to me.”
“You seemed the logical next step. I assume the proximity to the underworld has kept you abreast of all the latest fads.”
“You think sex is a fad,” Tim howls. He doubles over laughing. “Damian—”
“Nightwing,” Damian corrects.
“You’re the one who broke into my safe house, Damian. The location’s secure. And sex isn’t a fad. Sex is enjoyed by ninety-nine percent of the population.”
“Excellent, then you’re more than qualified to talk to Robin about it.”
“I’m asexual,” Drake says. “And unless I’ve read things really, really wrong, so are you.”
“I dislike the label.” Damian feels himself bristle. “Even if it is mostly accurate.”
“And the lack of a label is why you still have Jon Kent hanging on your every word.”
Damian forces himself to keep steady. “Asexual or not, you can access a great deal of information about the subject that would be otherwise difficult for me to obtain.”
“Don’t want to be on the batcomputer looking up porn, huh?” Drake says.
His shaking laughter has eased but his eyes are alight in a way Damian hasn’t seen in years. Despite his discomfort, he knows he was right to seek the Hood’s assistance. “Will you help or not?”
“Oh, I can pull some stuff from the net, educational and otherwise.”
“I can let you know the next time Bruce has vacated the manor, if you would like to give him the information. I know Alfred has missed you.”
“Like I need you to tell me where Bruce is,” Tim scoffs.
Tim hits a detonator and waits precisely twenty minutes for the responding team to deploy. As he suspects, Batman, Nightwing and Bluejay are all in route, leaving Robin at the manor on his own.
Predictable. Tim suspects it’s a certain association between explosions and dead Robins, but can’t bring himself to sympathize. Even before he’d died, he’d never had a problem manipulating other people’s emotions.
He slips in through Dick’s bedroom window, unsurprised to find the boy pouting over what appears to be a book report. At least Bruce has gotten subtler with his reasons to for grounding Robin.
“Poor situational awareness, 5.0,” he greets.
“Five?” Dick says. “Thought I was Robin four?”
“Ask Steph about her gig between Batgirl and Spoiler,” Tim says. “And then remind me to shoot Damian again.”
At the mention of violence, the kid reaches into one of his drawers, presumably where he’s smuggled a batarang out of the cave. Just like every other model before him. Tim steps past him and closes the cracked bedroom door, deliberately exposing his back to put the kid at ease. “Relax, this a friendly visit.”
“It’s just me and Alfred here.” Dick’s eyes narrow. “And I’m not supposed to talk to you.”
“Here I thought I had an open invitation,” Tim mocks. “Come back any time I’m ready to hang up my guns.”
The kid’s eyes light up. Tim mentally berates himself. He forgets to enunciate enough for sarcasm sometimes.
“Really?” Dick asks. “Because I think Bruce may actually die of happiness. Alfred, too, but he’d be way British about it.”
“I’m not coming back. I’m here to drop something off. Favor for ‘Wing.” He pulls a tablet from his utility pants. “It’s for you, actually.”
He tosses the tablet to Dick who catches it out of reflex, bringing it up to eye level to examine it with suspicion. “What is it?”
“It’s a primer on sexual intercourse, including diagrams, anatomy and videos.” He reaches over to tap the screen. “All on an untraceable, unnetworked tablet.”
Dick looks torn between enthusiastic acceptance and skepticism. “How do I know it’s not secretly a bomb.”
“Already filled my bomb quota for the day,” Tim says. “How else do you think I arranged this little chat?”
He slips back out the window, leaving Dick with the tablet. And if every third video is Batman porn, well, it's Bruce’s fault for not properly talking to the kid himself.
The knock on Jason’s door comes way too early for his liking, but since there are only two likely options for visitors this early, he has to give some sort of response. “Alfie, just a couple more minutes.”
He hears a small squeak which is definitely not Alford’s MO. He forces his eyes open. “Dick?”
The kid looks slightly wild-eyed considering he hadn’t been the one frolicking between exploding warehouses last night. The warehouses, it turns out, were mostly full of drugs, not people. And that only fits one rogue’s MO. Anything involving the Red Hood causes at least a full day of bat-angst.
But Dick has no way of knowing about the impending bat-angst. It’s still almost four full hours before Bruce even wakes to say something wrong to Dick.
“Come in, Dickface,” Jason says. “What’s on your mind?”
“Tim came by last night,” Dick says, edging into Jason’s room and shutting the door behind him.
“And he didn’t wait up for me?” Jason pushes the covers back from his bed and yawns. “Rude.”
“Why would he wait up? I thought he’d tried to kill you before?”
“Me and Timmy are cool.” Jason rubs the scar on his neck. Despite their history, he’s probably on the best terms with Tim out of everyone in the family. It has a lot to do with the fact that while he doesn’t wholeheartedly agree with Tim’s methods, he definitely sees Tim’s point. “Besides, attempted fratricide is a time-honored Robin tradition. You’re basically the only one who hasn’t been involved.”
“That’s because you all like me,” Dick chirps.
“No one likes a big head, Dickface,” Jason says. “Now tell me why you woke me up or I will make sure you join the tradition.”
“I’m going to hang with the Titans this weekend.” Dick shuffles his feet. “Starfire’s going to be there.”
“She’s… been around longer than I have and I’m not sure.”
Jason blinks. “Did you ask Tim for sex advice?”
“Bruce tried to give me a talk. But then he said I’d probably feel more comfortable talking with one of my brothers. So I asked Damian. And Damian told Tim I needed help. Tim gave me a tablet and there’s… a lot of stuff on it. I don’t think…”
“Step one,” Jason says. “Breathe.”
He waits for a second as Dick regains his composure.
“Your first problem was asking Dad to help at all. B had one bio kid and then decided he’d adopt the rest without bothering with sex. And I’m not entirely sure Damian wasn’t grown in a lab.”
“I didn’t ask Bruce,” Dick says petulantly. “Bruce cornered me. He wanted to make sure I was being safe. And I didn’t even know how to ask for details.”
Jason grimaces. He can only imagine Bruce trying to describe something like that. He’s been spared the talk so far, but he also hasn’t started dating alien supermodels at the tender age of fourteen. “Let me guess, Damian was even less helpful.”
Dick nods, looking frustrated. “And then Damian told Tim. And Tim brought me a tablet full of porn.”
“There you go,” Jason says. “Problem solved.”
“Jay, Bruce made me promise to be safe. I’m pretty sure nothing on that tablet is a good example of safe. I just want to know how it all works.”
“Look I’m not sure I’m the best person to give you advice. I say skip the whole thing. I grew up with some people who did it professionally and it seems like a terrible job.”
Dick’s face falls. “Then you can’t help me.”
Jason hesitates and then abandons the idea that he’s ever getting back to sleep for the morning. He might not have or particularly desire experience with sex, but he’s always been good at starting from scratch.
“I never said that.” Jason reaches to his nightstand where a still unopened box of condoms had appeared when he turned fifteen. “We’re Robins, we can figure this shit out.”
He tosses the box to Dick who catches it, looking bewildered.
“Step one,” Jason says. “Read the fucking manual.”
Dick blinks. “Was that a pun?”
Jason smiles at him. “See, I’m way more fun than Timmy’s tablet of porn.”