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Things Which Don't Shift and Grow Are Dead Things

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The only cure

I know

is a good ceremony

Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony

 

Damian sat in his usual seat at the table, arms folded across his small chest and looking more like a child than usual. Dick sat across from him, leaning forward in his chair, reaching to connect with his little brother. Jason stood back, resting against the dining room entrance’s frame in a bored, practiced way.

The manor was quiet. Alfred had excused their guests for the day: Dinah and Oliver first. Then Hal. Diana.

Mr. Pierce had stayed until he had spoken with all members of the family and gained their signatures while he expressed his sympathies. But the lawyer had needed his entire arsenal when he met with Damian. He hid behind his paperwork, his glasses, his steepled fingertips that he held in front of his nose. He had needed every ounce of professionalism to deflect Damian’s barrage of shouts, accusations, and anger. Dick had done very little to reign Damian in while he sat there as his guardian. Jason had tried very hard not to look impressed.

Mr. Pierce left the manor with Alfred’s well-practiced farewell wishes, looking only the slightest bit harassed.

Clark had lingered longest, going back to Bruce’s room to say whatever was left for him to say to a man who had been with him through other worlds and realities. To a man who Clark had shared so much with, but was also a man who couldn’t hear the words he wanted to say. Bruce lay in a bed surrounded by stats: heart rate, oxygen levels, blood oxygen circulation from the heart and back. Clark had gone through the motions anyways; he’d been surprised by Bruce before. How many times had Clark thought he was talking to a brick wall only to find out later that Bruce had not only heard him, but processed his words as well? Clark did stand for hope after all.

The Batboys had presented a semi-united front until Clark finally said his goodbyes and left the manor. Tim took one look at Dick and Jason, and then at Damian, and left for the cave, mumbling about getting back to work. To which Dick had then dragged Damian to the dining room.

The two continued to sit there facing each other, the oldest and the youngest, with Jason on the fringe, waiting for the outcome.

“And why would I want to live with you and Sweeney Todd?” Damian said.

Dick closed his eyes and exhaled loudly.

“Look, Dami,” Dick said, ignoring the boy’s Sondheim bait. “I’m going to the penthouse to start getting a feel of what things might be like. I think it’d be nice to ease ourselves into this new arrangement instead of waiting around for a specific start date.”

“There’s no enticement for me, Grayson. My stuff is here. Alfred is here. I’m not leaving.”

“I get it. And I, we, will consider moving to the manor instead.”

Dick heard a sharp thump of Jason’s head hitting the wood frame in protest. Dick continued.

“I just figured that you’ve lived with me before. Not in the manor. And maybe we could do that again.”

“No.”

Dick and Damian remained in silence, back to looking across the table at each other in disagreement.

“Alright,” Dick said. “I’m going to head over there. Let me know if you change your mind.”

Dick stood up from the table and moved to leave when Damian spoke up.

“It’s different from then, Richard.” Damian looked down at his lap. “I know him this time. My father.”

Dick nodded, understanding. Before, Damian had been dumped at Bruce’s feet and passed off to Dick to raise. There had been resentment. Disagreements. Culture shock.

Now there was respect and understanding. Possibly even love if Damian’s gift of the pearl he found in the sewers was any indication.

“I’ll see you soon, Dames.”

“Make your husband leave with you.”

Dick stopped in his tracks and turned to look at the boy. He was looking pointedly away, eyes narrowed in an angry glare like he found the wall décor offensive.

Jason said what Dick’s brain was telling him.

“He’s upset, Dickie. Let him be.”

He offered one last peace offering.

“Call me if you need anything, okay?”

Dick was met with silence and he made his way out.

“I’m off to sharpen my straight razors,” Jason called back to the boy with a wink.

 


 

“What are we doing, Dick?”

For the second time that day, Jason dropped his duffle to the floor of Wayne owned property. Dick moved past with a couple bags of groceries they had stopped for on their way over. Jason followed him down the hall and made his way into the kitchen. He watched Dick pull out some of the staples: milk, bread, fruit and cereal; then took the last couple steps to Dick’s side and started finding homes for the food.

“Dick,” Jason started again, “What are we doing?”

“I don’t know.” Dick continued to pull out grocery items. “We’re here to figure that out.”

“What’s to figure out? He won’t leave the manor.” Jason opened a door next to the fridge to unveil a half-stocked pantry. He stuffed the cereal inside.

“I won’t ask you to live there again.”

“I know. You had me worried earlier though when you told the kid we’d think about it.”

Dick frowned. “So what does that mean? I sometimes live at the manor and sometimes live with you?”

Jason grinned at Dick, watched him concentrate on his task and his jet-black hair fall in front of his face.

“You saying you want to live with me, Dickie?”

“I do like that bunker of yours, Jay.” He pushed his hair back.

Jason took in Dick’s face: light, teasing, and serious.

“You have crap taste. Even I can appreciate the amenities of this place.”

“You hate it.”

“It’s at least not the manor. But it’s also not the manor. And it’s definitely not my bomb shelter.”

“Is it weird that I understand what you’re trying to say?”

“No. You lived there too with Bruce and Alf. There are still some good memories there. It’s why I still visit.” Jason moved to the center island of the kitchen and pulled open the large drawers. “There are like fifty goddamn pots and pans in here.”

Dick turned to watch Jason shake his head and close the drawers of his discovery. He felt words and emotions bubble inside him as he watched Jason walk the parted waters of emotional need and anger, the energy expended as blunt honesty and deflection. Dick wondered what would be captured if he could trap the emissions – if he would find traces of forgiveness, too.

Jason stood up and reoriented himself, leaning back to half-sit against the harsh edge of the quartz countertop. The two of them stayed there: facing each other, watching – the silence saying more than their words could. They knew they were heading towards an unknown path; that Bruce’s request was for a mission both of them were unsure of what their success rate would be.

“Let’s take the night off.” Jason cocked his head, inviting Dick into his thought process.

“From…?”

“Everything. The city. Bruce’s legal wishes. Damian. I know we’re here to come up with a plan, but let’s not. How about we just be you and me tonight?”

Dick grinned. “We could stay in. See what’s available to watch.”

Jason grinned back. “Now you’re talking. I’ve been lugging my clothes around all day. I want out of these jeans.” He walked out of the kitchen, his voice trailing behind him. He made his way back to the entrance hall and picked up his duffle bag. He took one step back towards Dick only to be interrupted by a knock on the door. He knew he would regret it, but Jason opened the front door anyways.

“Hey,” was all Tim said as he stood before Jason.

“What is it?” Jason asked.

Tim hesitated, pulled on the strap of his backpack slung across a shoulder. Then, “Can I come in?”

Jason narrowed his eyes and bit off the No on his lips. “Why?” he said instead.

“Please?”

Jason opened the door wide and moved to the side to allow him passage.

“Thanks, Jason,” Tim said as he walked past.

Jason followed him into the heart of the penthouse and watched Dick put on a smile for their younger brother.

“Hey, Tim,” Dick called out. “Everything okay?”

“Yeah,” Tim said. “I heard that Damian was staying at the manor tonight.”

The three of them stood loosely arranged in the kitchen.

“He’s not ready,” Dick said.

“Well,” Tim hedged, “I was wondering if I could take the guest room tonight…since he’s not here.”

“What’s wrong with your own apartment?” Jason asked.

“Nothing! It’s just, I’d rather be here.”

“Why?”

“Come on, Jay! After today? Can I stay here or not?”

Dick watched Jason work to keep his face taut and eyes narrowed. He was being obtuse on purpose.

“Jason. Stop dangling the carrot,” Dick said.

“Fine. I don’t care, nerd. Do what you want.”

“Seriously?”

“Within reason. Obviously.”

Dick’s stomach growled. “What’re we doing for dinner?”

“No idea,” Jason said.

“Then what did we get this food for?”

“For when we have ideas.”

“You guys are hopeless,” Tim said.

“Whatever, mooch.”

“I’ll call for pizza.” Dick fished his phone out of his pocket and opened a small drawer filled with takeout menus.

“No mushrooms, please.”

“Jesus Christ, Timbers. You don’t get to make demands.”

“What? Somebody has to lay down some kind of law with Dick.”

Jason turned to Dick and yelled, “Extra mushrooms, Dickie!”

Dick broke his attention from dialing and looked at Jason with confusion on his face. “Since when, Jay?”

“Since never," Tim said. "He’s being an asshole.”

“Gotcha. Don’t worry, Tim. No fungi for you.” Dick returned his attention to whoever picked up the line and started spewing out an order.

Tim smirked at Jason and Jason felt about ready to either menacingly look down at the twerp or run his hands all over Dick’s body; whichever would intimidate the kid fastest. Jason moved to Dick’s side and managed to place a softly spread hand on Dick’s shoulder blade he could feel beneath the thin cotton t-shirt when a knock sounded at the door again.

Jason groaned and made his way back towards the front door, but was satisfied to note that Tim’s eyes had widened a smidge at his antics before leaving the kitchen.

Jason opened the door. Again.

“Oh! Hi, Jason!” Steph called from the penthouse landing. Cass gave a shy smile and small wave.

“Don’t you two have jobs to do?” Jason grumbled at them, but he returned Cass’s smile.

“Nah, we’re good tonight,” Steph said as she pushed past Jason. “Kate and Harper are out with Duke and the Foxes.”

“And you’re here because???”

“Tim wasn’t at his apartment. We’re bored. This will be fun! We don’t get to see you and Dick much! I didn’t know you’d be here, too!”

“Why wouldn’t I be here?” He shook his head. “Dick!” Jason called out.

“What?” Dick called back.

“Order more pizza!”

Jason moved through the kitchen and past, before doubling back.

“Hey Dick? Did you see my bag?”

Dick, on the phone again, pointed in the direction of the two bedroom suites. “I put it in the bedroom.”

Jason made his way through the sparse living room, all windows and one large sectional. He continued moving until he came across a bedroom with the door open and light on. He found Tim inside pulling items out of his backpack.

“Your ladies are here,” Jason said to him.

Tim looked at him confused, a What? escaping from his mouth when he heard Steph’s voice animatedly telling Dick something. “Oh.”

“Yep.”

“I’m sorry, Jason. For invading tonight. It’s just…you and Dick are the closest things I’ve got to family. To brothers.” Tim looked down. “You especially.”

Jason knew Tim had hero-worshipped him. Jason knew and yet also knew he didn’t deserve it. He’d tried to make the kid understand the only way he could: through threats, anger, and antagonism. Tim had seen through the tactics and worshipped him anyways, just taking extra care to not let Jason see. Jason saw.

“I know, kid,” he said. “Me too.”

Tim looked up at Jason a bit stunned. He quickly recovered. “Dick put your bag in there.” He waved his hand at the door across from the room they were currently standing in.

Jason left then, not saying anything more. He’d said enough.

 


 

Jason quickly changed into a pair of dark gray sweats and a plain, faded red t-shirt. He wandered back out to see what had joined the commotion.

Wally West was hugging Dick in the kitchen and laughing out his hellos and I’m so glad to see yous in only a way Wally could. Jason tried not to frown and failed.

Dick pulled away from Wally’s embrace, his face lit up like a child on their birthday.

“What are you doing here?” Dick asked his closest friend.

Wally’s face turned solemn. “I heard about Bruce and some of the League coming to Gotham.” Wally took a breath. “I heard he’s getting worse. I’m sorry, Dick.”

Jason turned away, walking to plop down on the couch with the girls.

Steph let out a whistle as Jason sauntered over. “Nice sweats, Jason.”

He let out a huff. “Seriously? With the outfits we all wear, you like the sweat pants?”

“Yep.”

He nestled himself between Steph and Cass, but turned to face Cass’s sorrowful look of understanding she directed at him. He knew she could read him: his jealousy and anger and bitterness. He’d just wanted a moment with Dick. Why was that so hard? Why did so many people lay claim to him?

Cass laid a soothing hand on his arm. “Do not worry,” she said. Then, “Want us to go?”

Jason shook his head. “Nah. It’s okay. Plus, you probably shouldn’t leave me alone with Wally still here.”

Steph turned her head towards the kitchen, trying to catch up on what wasn’t being said between Cass and Jason.

“Okay…Do not worry,” she said again. “Dick likes your sweat pants, too.” Cassandra Cain, a deadly innocent, grinned at him.

He stared at her for a second while his brain soaked up what she said. Then he threw back his head and laughed.

“Who’ve you got over here, Dick? You seriously having a party?” Wally moved towards the living room, stopping when he saw the three of them on the couch.

“Hey,” Wally called out by way of a greeting.

“I forget who you’ve met already, Wal. That’s Steph and Cass.”

“Yeah, Bart mentioned them.”

Dick nodded. “And Jason, of course.”

“Of course.”

“Hey, Wally,” Jason called out. Cass patted his shoulder to congratulate his good behavior.

“Wow. Jason. It’s been a long time. Uh, Dick’s told me about you being back. In Gotham,” he clarified.

“Surprise.”

He’d rather stay on the couch, but Jason knew he was going to have to face it. Wally was Dick’s best friend. Wally would’ve been the best man at Dick’s wedding…if he hadn’t married in secret, and if he hadn’t married Jason. He stood up and walked over to the pair, throwing his hand out for a handshake. Jason didn’t know exactly what Dick had told his friend about themselves, about their civil union, or if Dick told him anything. But Wally’s eyes widened at the gesture like maybe he knew something, and he grasped heartily at Jason’s outstretched hand.

Jason moved to Dick’s side, feeling that his niceties towards Wally were over and done with for the next decade, and asked, “What’s the ETA on the food?”

Dick shifted closer, pressing the length of his side against him. “Should be here soon. I hope. I’m starving.”

They watched Tim stride back and take Jason’s empty spot on the couch. The three of them huddled together into conversation.

There was another knock on the door.

“Finally!” Dick shouted.

“I got it, Dickie. You stay here.”

“Wait, here’s the cash. Yes, you need all of it, it’s a lot of pizza.”

Jason left Dick and Wally standing there, making his way again to the door. He felt his sweats slung low on his hips and a cool whisper of air at exposed skin on his lower back from where his shirt had ridden up from the couch. He almost adjusted himself until he remembered Cass’s words about Dick. Instead, he walked away wondering if Dick was watching.

They had gotten married, both pretending to be less interested in each other than they actually were. Since then, they had been carefully expressing interest: in the quietness of Jason’s bunker or on the rooftop of a building while on patrol. The first time he felt Dick touch his face that had nothing to do with an injury or justice, Jason had known – had known what the two of them meant to each other. They had kissed. They had held on to each other and felt the pulse beneath their armor, a pulse that cried out in want and need and life. I am alive for this, Jason had thought.

Jason felt his spirits lift as he reached for the door handle. He could work past the home invasion. He could work past Wally West. Jason and Dick were still bound to each other, even if it wasn’t Jason’s name on the certificate. Jason opened the door for pizza, wondering if he should say something to Dick about exactly how he felt for the man, when he found himself face to face with Barbara Gordon.

 


 

Jason’s brain was confused. His first thought at seeing Barbara Gordon, Dick Grayson’s ex and his own past crush, was oh, shit. But his brain saw Batgirl and his mouth said, “Thank God you’re here.”

“What?” she said as he pulled her inside.

“We’ve been invaded by the younger siblings. Plus Wally.”

“Ooohhh,” she said. “Wait. How many people are here?”

“Tim. Steph. Cass. Wally.”

“Are you serious?”

Jason took in her voice, her stance. She was angry.

“I heard that Damian was staying behind at the manor,” Barbara continued, “so I thought that meant I’d have an opportunity to speak with Dick, er, the two of you about this whole situation.”

“Well…”

“What the hell is going on, Jason? You and Dick raising Damian? Why? Because of your sham marriage?”

“I have no idea, Babs. And it’s not like we can ask Bruce. Also, ouch.”

“Look, I know I haven’t been around lately. I’ve been busy training my own protégés. But I’m still family, right? I should be helping to take care of Damian; I was there for him and the family while you were off doing whatever. And I was here before you! Bruce chose me before he chose you! It should be me and…”

Barbara stopped and covered her mouth with her hand. It should be me and Dick lingered in the air unsaid.

“I don’t mean it like that,” she said quietly. “I’m not hoping for anything…”

Jason watched her try to backtrack.

“I know,” he said. “I get it. You’ve been left out. You. Batgirl. The best of us. But with Damian, I think Bruce thought our similarities would work in our favor. Personally, I think it’s going to lead to mutually assured destruction. But it’s okay. Dick and I, we’re his brothers. We have to do this.

“And you’re right. There’s a hierarchy in the Bat family. You were here before the rest of us except for Dick. So, you get to pick the movie for whatever the hell is going on tonight and none of the brats out there get to tell you any different.”

It was an olive branch between the two and Jason felt relief when Barbara laughed and pulled him in for a hug.

“Thank you for understanding. I promise I’m not as bitter as I sound. I guess, I just don’t understand what’s going on and I’m feeling left out.”

Jason gave her a squeeze, then looked beyond her into the open hallway. He watched a man carrying seven pizza boxes walk towards where Jason and Barbara stood with the front door wide open.

“Wanna tell Dick that the pizza’s here? And seriously. Tell them that you’re in charge.”

“Will do.”

Jason waved over the delivery guy as Barbara moved deeper into the penthouse.

He wondered how all of this would end.

 


 

The pizza boxes were left on the kitchen island in various stages of vivisection – open, revealing, half-eaten. Dick sat on the floor with Steph and Cass. Tim and Wally flanked Barbara on the couch, making recommendations as she navigated someone’s Netflix account. Jason sat with his back against a wall, legs splayed out before him, listening to the conversations and laughter surrounding him. He closed his eyes.

“Okay, I’ve decided,” Barbara announces. “Lord of the Rings it is.”

“Are you sure? We can keep looking…” Wally started.

“Good choice, Babs,” Jason said from the wall.

“You guys are gonna have to talk quieter,” she said to the trio on the floor.

“It’s been awhile since I’ve read the books,” Tim said to no one. Then, “Jay, you got a copy at your bunker?”

“Ooh, Jason! You have a bunker?”

“No, I don’t,” Jason said to Steph. “Yeah, Tim, you can borrow my copy.”

“Wait, do you have a bunker or not?”

“Ssshh! Cate Blanchett is speaking!”

Steph loudly whispered to Dick, “Seriously, what bunker?”

The movie’s score lent to the noisy atmosphere, but it didn’t prevent Jason from hearing the front door click open and shut. Jason opened his eyes and strained his ears to hear the soft pads of careful footsteps; the timing of steps betraying the length of the stride. Jason knew who had finally come home.

Damian walked into the living room, taking in the sight before him. He crossed his arms in front of his chest and narrowed his eyes.

“I see,” he said.

He looked from Dick and Steph and Cass, to Tim and Babs and Wally. He moved off to the side and sat down next to Jason.

“Todd.”

“There’s pizza. One of them is even just cheese.”

“Maybe later.”

Dick crawled over to Damian.

“Hey,” he said. “Come watch the movie with us. You can’t really see it from this angle.”

“I will sit with Todd. There’s no way he invited all these people over – he hates everyone.”

Jason laughed.

“No, Dami, we didn’t invite anyone over. They just showed up.”

“It was supposed to be just me and Dick,” Jason grumbled.

Dick looked taken aback and he turned to examine Jason’s face. Jason stared right back.

“Come over here, Dami!” Barbara yelled from the couch. “We’re watching Lord of the Rings!”

Damian didn’t answer.

“It’s your welcome home party!” Steph said.

Dick refocused his attention to the boy who continued to look withdrawn.

“They’re just here to hang out for a bit. And then it’s me and you,” Dick said. “With some Jay thrown in for fun.”

“And Tim,” Jason added. “You said he could stay the night.”

“Oh yeah. And Tim.”

Damian looked at Jason, then stood up, resigned to his fate. “Fine. I will watch this movie.”

Dick walked with Damian to the sofa and watched him plop down next to Tim.

“Drake,” Damian greeted.

“Hey, Dami.”

“How long will this playdate last?”

“It’s a long movie,” Tim said.

“Tch.”

Dick nudged Damian in the knee from the floor with an elbow. “Quiet! Or I’ll send you back to sit against the wall!” Dick whispered with a laugh.

“By myself? I thought this was supposed to be my party?”

Dick looked over to where Jason had been and found it empty, no faded red shirt to warm the blank wall.

 


 

Jason stepped into the bedroom he had changed into earlier. He closed the door behind him and took a look around. The room was large and spacious. A queen bed sat center focus, flanked by matching nightstands. There was a bench at the foot of the bed and a dresser against the opposite wall. Jason stepped in front of the dresser and peered into the drawers. They were empty. The nightstands, too, were devoid of anything. He moved to his duffle on the precisely made bed and pulled out his hoodie. He flung it onto the bench. Jason then fished around the bottom of the bag for a ragged paperback. He set the Vonnegut novel on the nightstand closest to him and finally felt like he was pushing back against the oppressive neutrals.

He moved into the master bath. There he found bath towels, hand towels, face towels, and more washcloths than necessary. Jason sorted through the medical kit he found under the sink, making sure it was up to date. He moved on to the toiletries and pulled out a toothbrush and toothpaste. He brushed his teeth and washed his face, then made his way back to the bed.

Jason turned out the lights save for the soft glow of a lamp next to the bed, not sure if he wanted to read or just go to sleep. His eyes roamed the room again instead.

Could he live here? Between his shelter and various safe houses and robins nests, the penthouse would be the only legitimate living situation for him. Jason imagined his clothes in the dresser, his books stacked in a pile on the floor. He saw a hamper filled with dirty laundry, most of it Dick’s with all of the persona's Dick would discard throughout the day. He pictured a framed “Flying Graysons” poster on the wall.

Jason sat on the bed next to his bag. He reached into the duffle again, this time searching for a zippered pocket along the inside. He opened the pocket and pulled out a gold ring. He had only worn it the one time for the ceremony – jewelry and vigilante work didn’t go hand in hand. He pushed the duffle off the bed where it hit the ground with a soft impact. Jason placed the ring on its designated finger and laid down on the bed.

:::

Dick’s mind kept wandering from where he sat by himself on the thick area rug.

Steph and Cass had abandoned him for more pizza and then the couch. Damian was still settled between Barbara and Tim.

“Why would he do that? That is not a good idea.”

“Damian. Just watch and find out.”

“Tch.”

Dick kept his eyes on the screen, but he noticed that the youngest member of their family seemed content.

“I still do not understand how allowing that hobbit to have the ring will allow them to succeed in their mission.”

Tim groaned at Damian, but the interaction was mellow for them.

Dick decided that this was as good as he would get. He slipped out of the living room and made his way down the hallway towards the two bedrooms.

He opened the door on the left side and found Jason in bed, reading a paperback with a fractured spine. He stood there in the doorway, taking in the length of Jason’s body, as Jason looked up from his book. Dick stared at Jason for a heartbeat more, then closed the door behind him.

He moved towards the bed and shucked out of his pants, crawling under the covers in his t-shirt and boxers.

“Hey,” Dick said.

Jason closed the book and put it on the small table next to the bed.

“Hey, yourself.” He turned onto his side to look at Dick.

“So. Who would’ve thought Damian would show up?”

“Damian? He was the only one supposed to show up, Dick.”

“I think you’re forgetting his stubbornness, Jay. He was really digging his heels in earlier.”

“I feel like we’re on a roll now. How many other capes you think are gonna barge through the door?”

“There’s only one cape I’d like to see walking around.” Dick let out a sigh. “I’d even pay money just to see him scowl at me again.”

“Instead we’ve got the Teen Titans and groupies. And I would not pay money; I got plenty of scowls for free.”

“We’ve been without peak scowl for what…a year?”

“'Bout that. Bruce’s symptoms became more apparent about a month after City Hall.”

“And our anniversary was two months ago.”

“I hope you did something nice,” Jason said.

“I made Tim listen to your audio message. I’ve never had anyone wish me a happy anniversary with that many gun shots in the background.”

“My helmet communicator finally decided to start working and I was running out of hours. I had the time difference calculated and everything.”

Dick grinned at him and let his eyes sweep down Jason’s form. He noticed the gold on his finger.

“You’re wearing your band.”

“I wanted to make sure Wally knew I was taken.”

Dick gave Jason a soft punch on the shoulder, but he laughed.

“They’re all here to support us. Remember that, Jay.”

“I think the support part lies heavily in your favor. Me? They just tolerate.”

“That’s completely untrue.”

“There are so many people who care about you," Jason said. "You could go anywhere in the world – and probably beyond, let’s be honest – and find someone who would stop whatever they were doing and follow your lead.

“And out of all those people, Dickie,” Jason continued, “you find yourself married to me.”

Dick looked at Jason with heavy intent. “Am I, Jay? Am I married to you?”

“Dick, I could close my eyes and pick you out of a crowd just by the scent of your clothes.”

“What do you mean, Jay? That you know me?”

“That I’ve been paying attention. For years. I know that I pretend that it was someone else who said the vows, but…” Jason closed his eyes and took a breath. “I really want it to be me.”

“I want it to be you, too.” Dick pulled Jason to him, wrapping an arm over his back and tugging until Jason was half on top of him.

“Who else would let me be me?” Dick said into the skin of Jason’s neck. “And I, I hope I let you be you.”

Jason adjusted himself until he covered Dick completely. He pushed up onto his forearms to look Dick in the face, but he let his lower body weigh the man down.

“You give me your support. You understand that I’m still going to do my own stuff. You talk to me not at me. You let me know when I’m being an ass. And you still seem to want to be tied to me. I think that’s not just a marriage, Dick, but a good marriage.”

“Really? It’s extremely unorthodox.”

“Dick, this is one of the few traditional things in my life. The others are that I get dressed and eat on a daily basis.”

Dick laughed. “I had always thought that marriage or whatever was something I’d pursue at the end of everything else I wanted to achieve. You know? Like the ultimate goal and that would be it. I felt that I never had the time to think about it if I was going to be Nightwing or some other persona. But that didn’t happen with us. Marrying you felt like the road underneath my feet became more solid. It doesn’t feel like an end goal with you.” Dick frowned. “I don’t know if I’m making sense.”

Jason took a moment to look Dick in the eyes, to see what else Dick was trying to say. That they weren’t compromised. That being married wasn’t the end of an era. That they were a foundation upon which they could build on instead of a cap to finalize their lives. Then he lowered his mouth to Dick’s and kissed him.

“I know exactly what you’re saying,” Jason said when he broke the kiss.

Dick moved his hands to the back of Jason’s neck and pulled him down again.

Warmth spread throughout Jason's body. He felt Dick’s mouth part, felt his tongue lick at him, and Jason opened for the man beneath him.

Their breathing became ragged, their lips wet and swollen. Jason rocked his pelvis into Dick, who let out a gasp.

“You gotta be quiet, Dick. We’ve got company over.”

Dick squeezed Jason’s ass in retaliation and was satisfied to hear a groan come from the man above him.

Who needs to be quiet?”

“Fine. We’ll both be quiet. Right?” Jason slid his hand down Dick’s torso until he landed on his thigh. He moved his own body to the side a bit, feeling along the inside of Dick’s leg: at his muscle, at his pliable skin, at the soft down that grew thicker as he made his way back to Dick’s boxers. Dick felt the warmth of Jason’s hand land on his cock and he pushed up for more pressure. Jason obliged, rubbing through the fabric.

Dick pulled Jason back in to claim his mouth again, letting his own hands wander. He felt the muscles of his broad back under his shirt, then snaked a hand down the sweatpants Dick had been eyeing ever since he watched Jason walk around the penthouse in them.

Jason moved back to pinning Dick down and thrusting against him, feeling heat and friction. When Dick finally released Jason’s mouth for air, he took a moment to stare at the man before him.

“Jay,” Dick managed in a low voice.

“Yeah?” Jason’s speech was slow, his voice thick with lust.

“Marriage looks good on you,” Dick said with a grin.

:::

“By the way, Drake. That Sionis muscle says ‘hi’ and that he’s glad Nightwing and Hood worked through their issues.”

Tim let Damian’s words bounce around his brain before turning his head away from the movie to stare at the boy sitting at his side.

“What? Why would he be glad that Dick and Jason have teamed up?”

“He said with the two of them taking out criminals together he was able to ask for more hazard pay.”

Tim laughed. He remembered standing with the man on a rooftop, spying on Dick and Jason. It had been so long ago.

Damian took a few moments and then said quietly, “Apparently he’s got a kid who needs surgery.”

Tim stopped laughing and drew his brows together in concentration. “I’ll look into it and see what we can do to help.”

“Did you hear that?” Wally interrupted.

“What?” Barbara said.

“I heard a noise.”

“Does it sound like goblins in the mines of Moria? Cause that’s just the movie,” Steph said.

“No, it sounded like…I don’t know.” Then, “There! Did you hear that?”

“Wally, just watch the movie,” Tim said.

“It came from the bedroom, didn’t it, Tim?”

“Barbara, maybe turn up the volume.”

“Wait, where’s Dick?” she asked.

“You mean,” Steph started. “Are they???”

Wally left the couch to wander a ways down the hallway. He came back to report in less than half a second.

“Door’s closed. They are definitely doing something in there. I swear I heard a moan.”

“Seriously, let’s just finish the movie.”

“Tim, what is going on with them?” Barbara asked. “I thought the marriage thing was a sham?”

Wally gave Barbara a grin. “The marriage may be pretend, but I’d lay down good money that they are really fu-”

“Do not speak of my guardians in that way.”

All eyes fell to Damian as they registered his anger.

“You are being disrespectful,” Damian continued. “Wally, I thought you were supposed to be Grayson’s best friend? How dare you speak that way about him or his partner?”

No one answered.

Tim cleared his throat. “It’s not a sham. The marriage, I mean. They care for each other. We can’t presume to know just how much, but they’ll tell us when they’re ready.”

Tim turned his attention back to the TV. Gandalf was battling the Balrog. “Oh, this is a good part,” he said.

They settled back into the movie, volume a little louder. They watched Gandalf fall, watched the Fellowship cry out for him.

“I can’t believe it,” Wally said.

They knew he didn’t mean the movie.

 


 

Jason woke up to a quiet morning.

He carefully slipped out of bed, where he found his sweats and shirt on the floor. He put them back on and made his way out of the bedroom, closing the door softly behind him to allow Dick to continue sleeping.

The door across the hall was shut, but Jason could hear the soft breathing of a sleeper from inside. He thought it sounded like Tim.

He moved on. Through the living room – empty now except for a sleeping Damian curled up on the couch – and into the kitchen. He opened one of the cupboards to pull out the ground coffee he and Dick had picked up yesterday. He found the French Press next to it and started scooping measured spoonfuls. He filled the kettle on the range with water and turned the burner on. While he waited for the water to heat, Jason took in his surroundings. The pizza boxes were gone and the dishes they had used had been loaded into the dishwasher. Jason idly wondered who had had the initiative to clean up.

Just as the kettle was about to whistle, Jason pulled it off the burner and poured it over the grounds. He put the lid of the press on and moved to find cups, sugar, and milk.

Damian walked into the kitchen while Jason pulled out necessities, his hair a mess and the look of sleep still on his face.

“Mornin’ sunshine,” Jason called out.

“Tch.”

“So. The couch. What happened?”

“Drake said he got here first and took my room.”

“You mean you let him take your room.”

“I was tired and Gordon kept trying to ask me how I was feeling.”

Jason slowly pushed down the plunger of the press and then waved a hand at the offerings.

“You want some coffee?”

Damian glared at him. “No.”

Jason shrugged and poured himself a cup. He took a sip, then went to examine the fridge.

“You hungry?” Jason asked.

“Only if you and Grayson picked up edible food.”

“I can make eggs and toast.” He paused. “Do you eat eggs?”

“I am ovo/lacto vegetarian.”

“You could’ve just said ‘yes.’”

Damian’s face crumpled in thought. “But I gave you a precise answer.”

Jason watched Damian fail to comprehend.

“You’re right. My mistake.” Jason pulled out the eggs and moved to the center island for a skillet.

“Toaster should be down there.” Damian pointed to a lower cabinet. “Why are you doing this?” he then asked.

Jason continued to pull out breakfast items.

“What do you mean? Why am I making breakfast? Cause I’m hungry.”

“No, imbecile. I mean, why are you agreeing to father’s wishes? I don’t understand why you would play house.”

Jason set down the bread.

“Look. I’m my own person. I do things my own way. But sometimes it’s okay to play nice with others. Bruce and I may not agree on everything, but he still helped raise me. He’s still a mentor. No matter how pissed I get, I’ll always be grateful for him.”

Damian narrowed his eyes. “You’re doing all of this for father?”

“Hell no. Mostly I’m doing it for Dick. And in the long run, I'm doing this for myself, I guess. But there is also respect for Bruce thrown in there. And part of me is doing this for you.”

“Why?”

Jason shrugged. “We’re family. I could make it super complicated to explain if you want, but it doesn’t need to be.” He popped bread in the toaster and started cracking eggs into a bowl. “Why did you come over here last night?” Jason asked.

“I felt it wasn’t a smart idea to push away the man who will have legal authority over me.”

Jason smirked at that, seeing right through what Damian was truly worried about.

“You won’t lose him like that. He’d never abandon you. Just like Dick won’t abandon me.”

“Unless you start killing again.”

“I’m not Pit crazy anymore. And any lives I take are measured and weighed for the benefit of society. But I stick to non-lethal combat because it’s important to me to stay a part of the family.”

“Even though you have a team?”

“They’re a good team. But they’re not the family.”

Jason poured the bowl of beaten eggs into the warmed pan and threw in a couple pats of butter.

“You’re on toast duty,” he said to Damian.

:::

Dick wandered into the kitchen just as Jason was tipping scrambled eggs onto plates.

“You want some?” Jason asked when he noticed him there.

“I smell coffee,” Dick said instead.

“Over there. I put out sugar and milk, too.”

Dick made his way to Jason and gave him a quick hug before moving past to pour himself some coffee. He filled his cup, letting the mug warm his hands and the aroma invade his senses. He watched Jason and Damian; they left the dining table empty, opting to eat at the kitchen island instead. They stood side by side, continuing a conversation while they ate.

“I don’t know, kid. Tim’s bo staff is pretty great in its simplicity. But I’d prefer to take out people before they get that close to me. Otherwise, I’m going to take it real personal. And I won’t fight elegantly. I’ll fight dirty.” Jason took a bite of his toast. “You forgot to butter this,” he said, putting the toast down on his plate and reaching for the butter dish.

“I don’t like to presume your eating habits.”

“Who eats dry toast?”

Dick took some more sips of his coffee, watching the two interact. They continued to converse as they ate their breakfast in a leisurely fashion, Jason spreading more butter and Damian piling scrambled egg on his toast. Dick grabbed a plate and took some breakfast for himself, then stood quietly next to Jason to eat. He felt Jason absent-mindedly place a hand on Dick’s lower back, running his hand back and forth as he continued his discussion with Damian. Dick leaned into Jason’s warmth and tried to fight the stupid grin that kept appearing on his face. He didn’t know if what he was witnessing was the beginning of their future or just one good day. Sometimes it felt like too much to ask to see the family work together and not sustain any life-threatening injuries. But here, in the kitchen, the ones he had grieved for stood side by side. Their hearts beat life through their veins; cradled spoken and unspoken loves in their chests. Dick watched Jason and Damian shift, grow, and live.

 

“Come home, children, come home.” - Ceremony