It started like these things usually do, with a fight. They had just arrived back from hard night of patrol – a combination of a prison break, bank heist and a major drug deal, not to mention a budding gang war had left them all slightly off kilter and dead tired. But despite the fact that it was 4am and they all had work or school commitments in the morning, by the end of patrol Batman had barked into the comms that everyone was to meet back at the cave immediately, no exceptions – even Jason who usually argued and took the long way back (or sometimes didn’t show up at all) just to be contrary was somewhat cowed by the angry tone.
It was apparent even at first glance that Batman was furious, he wasn’t yelling (yet), he wasn’t even looking at any of them as they each arrived back at the cave. None of them made a sound as they stood there waiting to be acknowledged by the man who had his back to them as he loomed over the current Robin whispering something angrily to the boy as Alfred stitched up his arm – even from the distance you could tell it was a deep wound, probably deep enough to see bone, the skin all the way up his arm was mottled with bruises and scratch marks that seemed to travel all the way up to his neck. Damian’s face was blank, eyes downcast as he sat there and Dick wanted to comfort the boy, run his hands though his brother’s hair and make sure he wasn’t seriously hurt but he knew that would only cause trouble for everyone involved, instead he curled his hands against his sides and waited, there would be time afterwards to talk to baby bird, to ensure that his little brother was alright.
After what seemed like hours but was probably minutes Bruce walked over towards them, cowl still on he glared at each and every one of them, before his masked eyes turned towards Tim.
“What was that?! We have plans for a reason and none of you followed them tonight.” He growled at them (and honestly that was worse than yelling)
“B, I think…” Dick started but was instantly quieted with a look (usually the batglareTM didn’t affect him but there were times when even he knew it was better to just shut up and this was definitely one of them.)
“Dick, go get some sleep. You aren’t needed here” He bristled at Batman’s tone and the insinuation that he wasn’t to be here for this conversation and glared back ready to chew batman a new one when Jason stopped him with a sardonic laugh.
“Of course golden boy is let off the hook, because obviously he can do no wrong. Whereas the rest of us are just fuck ups in comparison right old man?”
“Jay” Dick started to comfort his brother, to explain to him that this wasn’t what he wanted but Jason held up a hand glaring at him.
“Shut the fuck up Dickhead and fuck off. Dearest Bat-Daddy here, said you weren’t fucking wanted and I whole-fucking-heartedly agree”
He frowned at his younger brother, opening his mouth to argue that they were a family and Dick had been out on patrol with them but once again he was cut off this time by his genius little brother.
“Dick, it’s fine. Just go.” Tim flashed a small smile which did little to reassure him, but he turned walked away regardless.
The oldest bat-kid was unsure why Bruce didn’t want him in the vicinity whilst he chewed the others out, but if he had to guess it probably had more to do with the argument he had, had with his adopted father a few days ago and less to do with the quality of his performance in the field today. He sighed unsure whether this was a good thing or a bad thing, did it mean that B was actually taking what he said about proper parenting to heart or did it just mean that Batman didn’t want another fight on his hand – one that if Nightwing was being honest with himself, would probably end up being more physical than either of them actually wanted, especially given how heated their last ‘discussion’ had gotten.
He sighed as he made his way up the stairs to the bathroom, turning on the taps to blast him with warm water that pelted down on his aching muscles like a calming balm. Washing away all of his aches and pains down the drain; along with the dirt and grime of the night, as he tried to lose himself in the soothing sensations. He stood there for a long time trying to ignore the nagging ache in his chest that wouldn’t wash away no matter how hard he tried, the pain he felt as the thought of being unwanted and unneeded by his family. He knew it wasn’t true, knew that despite everything they loved him – it was just that he was surrounded by emotionally constipated bats, who didn’t know how to show their love and affection openly. That’s why Dick was around, to show them it was okay, he was the one who had to be there to prove to them that positive emotions were a good thing and to show them that they needn’t be afraid (and wow, he was probably spending way too much time with lil D – not that he would stop spending time with his baby bird regardless – if words like needn’t were creeping into his vocabulary, or maybe it was just Alfred’s influence finally manifesting itself).
He sighed audibly, shaking himself out of his gloomy thoughts, pushing them all away to the dark corners of his being. Dick Grayson was a performer, there was always a part to play and the show must always go on. He quickly dried off, heading to his room to change he decided to go see if he could snag some food and maybe two mugs of hot chocolate from Alfred before he went to hunt down Robin. His baby brother would no doubt be off somewhere licking his wounds from the verbal lashing Batman probably gave him, but Dick refused to let his baby brother wallow alone (The rest of the team would probably be doing the same to be honest, but he wasn’t an idiot despite what people (Jason and Damian) claimed and was more than aware that most of them would not take well to his company at present).
He had made it no more than five steps into the living room on his way to the kitchen when he was stopped by a sudden shout coming from the study. He ran towards the noise which was slowly increasing as more voices joined the fray, he stopped at the door way taking in the scene in front of him. He was only slightly surprised to see Tim and Damian fighting again, not because it was unusual (by this point it honestly wasn’t anything new) but because Bruce was in the room – whether he arrived just before Dick or was there when the fight started, the older boy would never know – and neither of the boys were listening to him as he growled at them to knock it off before he stalked back down the stairs to the batcave.
Dick’s eyes skimmed over Jason who was casually leaning against the arm rest of one the chairs looked amused yet slightly concerned by the scene before him which was enough to tell Nightwing that his brother would back him up if he intervened in the fight given that Bruce seemed reluctant to get involved (and they would definitely be having words over that). He caught his rebellious brother’s eye and nodded his head as he stepped into the room, grabbing Damian’s arm before the boy could do any serious damage to Tim with the lamp. The boy barely struggled as Dick pulled his baby brother’s apart, Jason grabbed Tim, helping the other boy up and off the floor and checking for any serious injury (given their history even Dick had to admit that he was slightly concerned).
Dick turned to his baby brother kneeling down in front of him even though he knew the younger boy hated it. “Dami? What happened?” He asked quietly
“He’s a budding little psychopath, with anger management issues what more needs to be said Dick?” Tim snarled pulling away from Jason to face his eldest brother.
“Tim, that’s not…” Dick started to admonish
“Seriously? He’s a fucking menace” Tim cut him off “Fine. You want to know what happened? I said the fucking truth and the demon spawn attacked me, again!”
“He started it!” Damian protested, glaring at the floor.
“Look, I don’t care who started it, but you both need to stop this. Seriously, you’re brothers. You should be looking out for each other, it’s what family does” Dick knew that was the wrong thing to say the moment those words left his mouth, there was instant protest from both sides of the room and the eldest boy sighed internally berating himself for letting his feelings from earlier cloud his judgment. His family was emotionally constipated, direct talking about their feelings would never work with them.
“Grayson he isn’t my brother, I am the blood son and he is just unwanted trash that father took in out of pit. Remember Drake blood is thicker than water, I am father’s only real child because I am the only one who shares his blood. Therefore you are not part of this family.” Damian bit out scathingly as he glared at Tim.
Dick frowned placing a hand on the boy’s shoulder and opened his mouth to berate his baby brother about his hurtful words when he was cut off my Tim pulling himself away from Jason. The seventeen year old stormed across the room towards the door, somewhere along the way he had grabbed a book that he chucked straight at Damian. The youngest bat whose attention had been turned towards his eldest brother, was caught off guard by the heavy object that pegged him in the face.
“Dami! Tim, what the hell!?” Dick yelled startled as his littlest brother fell on his arse, knocked over from the force of the book.
“Seriously, after what he just said, not to mention that the brat tried to fucking maim me earlier.” Tim sighed angrily pausing as he reached the door “I don’t know why I bother, you always take his side”
“I’m going to kill you Drake!” Damian threatened as the shock wore off and he started to pick himself up off the floor.
“Yeah? Well news flash demon. Bruce may have adopted me out of pity but at least he fucking wanted me! He chose to take in all of us other non-blood related kids. You on the other hand are just some brat he feels responsible for. You are an obligation he doesn’t actually want. So you may be the blood son but we all know you’re the least wanted child out of all of us!”
“TIM!” Dick yelled appalled, but his brother had already left the study. Damian gave out an angry cry before moving to launch himself at the place Tim had stood moments ago but the acrobat moved quickly trapping the ten year old within his arms.
“Grayson, get off me. I’m going to kill him!” The young boy yelled struggling against him.
“Dami, you know that’s not true, right? The younger boy froze at his words.
“-tt- Drake is an idiot” Damian muttered pulling out of Dick’s arms “I’m going to bed, I have class in the morning” The eldest son felt his heart ache as he watched the thirteen year old walk out of the door without a backwards glance. Despite how hard he tried to hid, it was clear that Damian was hurt by Tim’s comments but Dick knew better than to try to talk to him about it now. He would do it tomorrow after they all had some time to cool off.
A sharp whistle pierced the air drawing Dick from his thoughts to look up at his remaining brother.
“Wow Dicky, you fucked that one up good” Jason grinned mockingly.
“I didn’t..” he started
“Exactly, you never do anything do you? And honestly the replacement is right, you always side with the demon spawn” Jason cut in sharply.
“That’s not fair, someone has to stick up for him and Dami is a child.”
“Whatever, it’s no skin off my back.”
“Would you look at the time, I gotta run Dickybird. Have fun dealing with your family bullshit” he grinned sardonically as he headed to the door.
“Jay, it’s your family too”
Jason laughed darkly “Bullshit, I want nothing to do with you assholes. You’re not my family”
“We don’t choose family Jay.”
“BULLSHIT! The spawn of Satan is right about one thing, we aren’t a family. We don’t share any blood and I thank god every day because I’m not a child of the bat.”
“Family isn’t defined by blood Jay”
“Yeah? Tell that to the baby assassin” Jason rolled his eyes as he walked past Dick making his way out the door.
Dick Grayson sat there for a moment wondering for a moment where everything went wrong. He allowed himself a moment of pity before he pulled himself together, picking himself up off of the floor he squared his shoulders and headed downstairs towards the Cave.
It was time he and Batman had a few words.