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i'll look after you

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Todd doesn't know how, but he and Dirk start sharing a bed soon after starting the agency.

It kind of just...happens naturally. They've already moved in together, so why not take this next step, right?

At least, that's how Todd justifies it. He really hadn't meant for any of this to happen.

Dirk is the one to first crawl into Todd's bed, of course, and Todd had initially dismissed it as the usual Dirk weirdness. He'd fought against it at first, trying to tell Dirk that no, he could not sleep in the bed with him, they're both adults - and then he saw the genuine terror in his eyes.

Nightmares. They both got them after all of the crap they had seen, but apparently, Dirk's preferred method of dealing with them was to curl up in the bed with someone else.

Alright then. That's fine. Todd had started to let him in the bed with him after he'd have a bad dream, figuring that would be the extent of it.

Somehow, though, Dirk had managed to finagle his way into sharing the bed from the beginning of the night. Todd had never intended to let him do that, but, well, it's really hard to say no to Dirk when he's making that sad face, and he uses it so perfectly, and so...this is what his life is now, he supposes. Sharing a bed with his clingy best friend. Great.

It's actually kind of nice. Sometimes, the best way to calm down from waking up in a cold sweat is to see that your best friend is alive, he's here, right next to you and breathing. Sure, Dirk can be a bit of a blanket hog, and sometimes he'll rush out of bed to go to the bathroom, violently tossing the covers off and waking Todd up in the middle of the night, but it's not really that big of a deal. The former isn't that big of an issue because of how close they sleep, and Todd can usually roll over and get back to sleep pretty quickly. It really isn't as painful or weird of an arrangement as Todd had worried it would be. It actually feels kind of... normal, which in and of itself is pretty weird. Anything related to Dirk, normal. What a funny concept.

But then, about a week in, it happens.

At first, Todd isn't sure why he's awake. He blinks his eyes open, taking a cursory glance around the room. He hadn't been having a nightmare, and nothing is there in the room that shouldn't be: no intruders or villains or dangers. Just what had woken him up then-?

Dirk.

Oh shit.

Realization hits him like a truck. He immediately turns over to look at his companion, and his heart immediately drops in his chest. 

Dirk is shaking.

Not only that, but he's whimpering, his whole body twitching. After a moment, he starts thrashing, a soft cry escaping him. Usually when Dirk has bad dreams, he's upsettingly still and quiet, only his subtle trembling and silent stream of tears giving him away. Todd's never seen this before.

This must be a really bad nightmare.

He sits up immediately, putting a gentle hand on Dirk's shoulder and giving him a firm shake to try and wake him up.

"Dirk. Dirk, wake up, okay? It's only a nightmare, you're-"

Something wet touches his leg, and he cuts himself off. He looks down, slowly lifting the blanket with his free hand, to reveal a puddle spreading across the bed sheets.

It takes him only a moment to realize where the puddle is originating from, and just what exactly the puddle is. His breath catches in his throat, and he closes his eyes for a moment.

Okay. This is fine. The important thing is to wake Dirk up from his nightmare, then they can deal with, er. This.

"Dirk, buddy, come on. Come on, wake up," he murmurs, shaking him once again. "It's just a dream, you're safe. They don't have you anymore. I..." He hesitates for a moment. "I have you. I've got you."

Finally, Dirk's eyes fly open with a shout. Tears have started to steam down his cheeks, and he looks up at Todd with big, terrified eyes. He looks almost childlike, a surprising innocence in his gaze.

"Hey. Hey there," Todd murmurs, his voice soft. "I've got you. You're okay-"

Dirk jerks upright suddenly, realization and panic welling in his eyes. He stares down at his lap for a moment, before bursting into sobs. He pulls his legs to his chest and buries his face into his arms, rocking himself back and forth.

"No...no no no no no no no..." he whispers quietly, letting out a high-pitched whine. Then, he suddenly starts to smack himself on the head in a way that looked genuinely painful. He sobs, suddenly crying out, "BAD! BAD! BAD! STUPID! STUPID! BAD!"

"Woah, woah, woah, h-hey! St-stop that!" Todd cries, reaching forward and grabbing Dirk's wrist. 

 Dirk flinches with his whole body, seeming to brace himself. It takes Todd a moment to realize that he's waiting for him to hit him.

"N-no! No, Dirk, no, I'm not..." He starts to drop his wrist, only to notice that Dirk is trying to draw his fist back to his head. He swallows thickly. "Please. Please don't hurt yourself. I promise I'm not going to hurt you either, okay? Just...don’t...please…”

Dirk blinks, fat tears sent rolling down his cheeks with every bat of his eyelashes. There is a childlike aura about him, and he cowers back, fear and confusion shining in his eyes. "Wh-why?" he asks softly. "Wh-why no'?"

Todd swallows again. "Well...why would I?" he asks, keeping his voice gentle. "You're my friend. I don't want to hurt you."

"C-cuz..." Dirk swallows, fighting back a whimper. He's choked up as he murmurs, "I wa' bad."

"Bad? Bad how?" Todd asks, his brow furrowing in confusion. "For having a nightmare? Or...because of your accident?"

He slides his grip down from Dirk's wrist to hold his hand instead. Dirk looks down at their hands, and a sob bursts from his throat.

"B-b-both...'m b-bad...sh-shouldn'a woke you, an'-an' shouldn'a we’ your bed..."

He hiccups, and his other hand moves up to start hitting himself again. Todd panics, scrambling to grab that hand, before he gets a better idea.

"Oh Dirk, come...come 'ere," he says, pulling him into a hug before he can start to self-harm again. "It's okay. Please don't...don't hit yourself."

He grimaces, realizing too late that he's accidentally gotten himself into the puddle, piss soaking into the leg of his pajama pants. Well, he'll have to deal with that later. He's just glad that Dirk's face is currently tucked into the side of his neck, because he's certain that his expression would upset the poor guy even more.

In speaking of Dirk, Todd's never seen him like this before. He tenses up at first when Todd hugs him, as if he's anticipating pain. He seems so vulnerable right now, his whole body trembling like a goddamn leaf. It's like he's a child again, a terrified, broken child, waiting for someone to come and punish him. Todd is...kind of out of his element here.

"It...it's okay, buddy. It's okay. I won't hurt you. You're safe," he murmurs, rubbing little circles on Dirk's back with his fingertips, just like he used to do with Amanda when she would cry, back when they were younger. It worked with her then, maybe it would work with Dirk now?   

It seems to be, at least. Hesitantly, Dirk starts to relax into his arms, one hand gripping onto the back of his shirt with sheer desperation. His other hand slides up toward where his head is tucked, and for a moment, Todd is scared that he's going to start hurting himself again.

He doesn't, thank god. However...

Now, see, Todd can't exactly see what's going on over there from his angle, but at least judging by the soft suckling noises, the lack of head smacking going on, and Dirk's now muffled cries, there's something else going on there. Something...gentler, and a little bit odd.

...he's pretty sure that Dirk has put a finger or two in his mouth. Or maybe a thumb. Kind of weird, but hey, there are much worse things Dirk could be doing to himself. For that, Todd is grateful.

After a few more minutes of crying, Dirk's sobs finally start to wind down, his tears beginning to run dry. He pulls away slightly, instead leaning against Todd's chest, revealing that he does indeed have his thumb in his mouth. Todd sighs softly, continuing to hold Dirk close, albeit with a slightly looser grasp.

"Hey buddy. You feeling better?" Todd asks, keeping his voice gentle, like he's speaking to a small child. It kind of feels like maybe he is.

The way Dirk's staring at him with puffy doe eyes and his thumb hanging out of his mouth does nothing to dispel that feeling. He blinks up at him innocently, before nodding, letting his eyes fall closed.

"I sowry," he mumbles around his thumb.

"Don't be," Todd says, and god, he hopes he sounds reassuring. "Buddy, do you wanna get cleaned up? I don't think either of us wanna sleep in a wet bed...or in wet clothes..."

Dirk's eyes turn wet again, and he nods slightly. Fresh tears spill down his cheeks, and he squeezes his eyes shut. "S-sowry! 'm bad..."

"Oh god, please don't..." Todd swallows, giving Dirk a firm but gentle squeeze. "It wasn't your fault, you didn't do this on purpose. You just had an accident, that doesn't make you bad." He sighs, helping Dirk up to his feet so that he could get up as well. "Let's get you in the tub so that I can change the sheets, and we can go back to sleep, okay?"

Somehow, he doesn't think that Dirk will be taking a shower at the moment, and the main reason for that surprisingly has nothing to do with the fact that his legs are shaking so badly. Though, that does play a part in it. Dirk is leaning pretty heavily against him right now. 

Dirk whines softly, reaching up with his free hand to scrub at his eyes. Then, he frowns deeply, pointing at the door to Todd's room. "C-can...s-s'uff," he slurs, sounding anxious.

"...stuff?" Todd asks. He receives a nod in response, but that...doesn't really clear anything up. "What...what stuff are you talking about?"

Dirk whimpers, shifting his feet slightly. "B-baby s'uff..." he says quietly.

For a moment, Todd stares at him, unsure of how to process this. Apparently though, Dirk takes this as a rejection, because he soon bursts back into tears.

"Wait, wait, wait! I-I'm sorry, I didn't mean...I-I'm just surprised, is all!" Todd stammers out, pulling Dirk back into a hug before he can fully break down again. He drags his fingers lightly through Dirk's hair, swaying him slightly. "What-what do mean baby stuff? Like...for you?"

Dirk hiccups softly, and he nods. "S-sometime' I g-g-ge'..." he stammers, pulling his thumb out of his mouth for a moment. "...g-get small..."

"Small...?"

The thumb's going back in Dirk's mouth. He nods, sniffling quietly.

Oh. Ohhh. Todd thinks he might of heard of something like this. "Like, mentally?"

"Mhmm," Dirk grunts, shivering slightly in his hold. "B-Blackwing h-hated it..."

A pang of sympathy hits Todd's chest, and he holds Dirk a little tighter. "I-I'm sorry, buddy. That...that really sucks," he mumbles, suddenly getting the urge to press a kiss to Dirk's shoulder. He resists it, instead pulling back slightly to look Dirk in the face. "We...we should probably should talk about this more in the morning...how, um. How badly do you need your...baby stuff? I mean, we really ought to...clean up and stuff..."

"Wan' my teddy," Dirk says quickly, punctuating it with a whimper.

"...okay," Todd says, gently patting Dirk's arm. "Okay, well, maybe we can get you into the tub first, and-"

"Wan' stay with you!" Dirk cries, grabbing onto Todd's arm, clinging to him with a neediness that's just heartbreaking.

"O-okay! You can stay with me, bud, it's okay, you're okay," he stammers, rubbing his back gently. He sighs quietly, giving him a small squeeze. "Alright, buddy. We'll get your teddy, then we'll put you in the bath. Um, where is your...stuff? I'm assuming it's in your room?" 

"Mhmm!" Dirk wipes his eyes with his shoulder, one hand still tightly clutching to Todd's arm, and the other's thumb still jammed in his mouth. "Und'a m'bed."

"Makes sense," Todd mumbles, starting to lead him out of the room.

Dirk coos babyishly in response, stumbling his way through the halls. Todd's half carrying, half guiding him as they walk, and although it's a little cumbersome, he doesn't really mind too much. He leads him to his bedroom with little trouble, keeping his firm grip on Dirk's arm until they reach his bed. He kneels him down in front of it before letting go, and he watches him as he pulls out a nondescript black box and pushes the lid off. Curiosity gets the better of him, and he peers over his shoulder to look at its contents.

There's a teddy bear in there, which Dirk immediately grabs out and clutches to his chest. There's also a few pacifiers, one in each primary color, some childish clothes that include a blue and green striped onesie, a soft-looking blue blanket, a grown up sized baby bottle, and a few miscellaneous children's books. There's also a stack of pull ups, but Todd is pretty sure both of them are trying to ignore that.

Todd hums, feeling something between flustered and impressed by the situation. "Man, you really are prepared...where did you get all of this?"

"Int'anet," Dirk mumbles, cradling his bear to his chest like it's a baby.

What a surprisingly normal answer. He'd kind of expected something more out of the ordinary, but, then again, this whole thing is weird enough on its own. Not bad weird, though.

"Alright then," he says softly, putting a supportive hand on Dirk's back. "Do you...maybe want one of your pacifiers, instead of your thumb?"

Dirk flushes a bright red, burying his face into the top of his teddy bear's head. However, he does nod, and Todd feels an odd protectiveness well up in him.

"Okay then. Any preference on color?" He kneels down next to him, his eyes glancing over the pacifiers. They're actually much cuter close up, each one having a little animal on them; the blue one has a little duck on it, the red one a frog, and the yellow one an owl.

"Mmmm..." Dirk tilts his head slightly, before finally shaking his head. "Li'e all'a 'em."

"So it's my choice, then." Todd's not sure why, but this feels like a lot of responsibility. 

Dirk nods, smiling nervously at him. Todd sighs heavily, looking over the pacifiers once again. This feels way more important than it probably is, and the way Dirk is looking at him with big, anxiously trusting eyes is making him sweat.

"Uh...well..." Todd swallows, mentally weighing the pros and cons of each design. Then, he realizes that maybe he's putting too much effort into all of this, mainly because Dirk is getting kinda antsy beside him.

He picks up the blue one. Dirk bats his eyelashes and smiles a little wider, pulling his thumb out of his mouth. Todd doesn't even think before he slides the pacifier in gently to replace it, and it's only once the action is completed that he realize what he's done. His face heats up, and he coughs, rubbing the back of his neck.

"We should...the bath," he says. He really wishes that he'd been able to get Dirk in the tub first, to be honest. He has quite a bit of cleaning up to do now, more than he had before, and sitting around in wet clothes is really uncomfortable. He's already feeling gross with the relatively small wet spot on the side of his pajama pants, he can only imagine how uncomfy Dirk is feeling.

Dirk whines, but he nods slightly in agreement. He bounces the teddy bear like it's his baby, and despite himself, Todd can't help but smile warmly at the sight.

"I'll keep your teddy safe while you're in the tub, bud," he says, putting a gentle arm around him. "You've been in wet pants for too long, I'm starting to worry that you're gonna get a rash."

He moves to get the both of them to their feet, only to pause before he can go through with it. He reaches into the box, pulling out the onesie he took note of earlier and a pull up. May as well, right? If Dirk is going to be, well, like this, then he should probably be in comfortable, appropriate clothes.

A soft sound of surprise catches his attention, and he turns to find Dirk staring at him with big, worried eyes. It looks like he may start crying again.

"Huh? Is something wrong?" Todd asks, before hesitantly lifting up the items he'd just taken. "Do you want me to, uh, put these back?"

Dirk hunches in on himself, rubbing his fingers over his teddy's ear. He slowly pulls the pacifier out of his mouth, and his bottom lip trembles.

"S-s-sowry," he mumbles, and his voice is so impossibly small. "Y' don' gotta do all this...shouldn'a m-made you t-take me here..."

Tears quickly fill his eyes once again, and they start to spill down his cheeks. Guilt shines in his eyes, and Todd quickly realizes what's got him so upset. 

"You're not forcing me to do this," he says, dropping the pull up and onesie in his lap. He puts his hands on Dirk's shoulders and pulls him close, letting him rest his forehead against his shoulder. "Look, we...we still really need to get cleaned up. But I promise you, I'm not like...totally freaked out, honest. This is not the weirdest thing I've seen from you, believe it or not." He chuckles weakly at that.

Dirk just whimpers, continuing to cry quietly into his shoulder. "Toddy, 'm sowry," he whispers, before slipping the pacifier back into his mouth.

Todd's not getting through to him. He sighs. "I know, buddy, I know," he says softly. He takes the pull up and onesie into his hand, and he helps Dirk to his feet as he shakily gets up on his own legs. "For real this time, though. I'm really worried that I've already let you sit around in wet underwear for too long..."

Dirk whimpers, letting himself be scooped up onto his feet. He presses his face into Todd's neck, and despite the fact that he's taller than him, he somehow manages to shrink into his arms. Wet tears and snot soak into the crook of Todd's shoulder, but he doesn't mind, not really. Right now, his top priority is getting his friend cleaned up.

Fuck. He's probably going to have a rash tomorrow. This had been a bad idea, he should've made Dirk wait to get his stuff until after he bathed. But he just looked so sad...

Whatever. It's fine. They can deal with that problem when they come to it. There's still a chance it's not too late, after all. Todd sighs, before once again starting to lead Dirk out of his room, this time heading in the direction of the bathroom.

"It's gonna be okay, bud. I promise. I'm going to take care of you," he says softly.

He thinks they're both surprised by the genuineness of his statement, but Todd's also pretty sure he's never meant anything more in his life. There's a new, foreign protectiveness welling in his chest, and even though he really doesn't understand any of this, he knows that right now, Dirk's safety and general wellbeing is his absolute top priority.

Overthinking can happen later. Right now, he's got a...a baby to look after.

He hopes to god that he can figure out just what the hell he's doing.