Dick never really believed in the alpha instincts; or at least, he never believed that he possessed those instincts. Sure, he’d met little pups on his patrols and each one was his to protect until the proper authorities arrived; but that’s just it. Dick’s never had pups--alpha, beta, or omega--that stayed longer than a few minutes or hours.
But then Rachel showed up--a pup abandoned, hurt, scared. And she stayed longer than any other, pulled something out of the depths of Dick’s heart; a careful sort of protectiveness, an instinct to let her know she’s welcome and cared for, accepted. Gar is the same, a bit more spunk and confidence which alleviates some of Dick’s instinct to reassure him he’s a part of a pack--but he still becomes Dick’s pup.
Then Jason shows up and things spiral. Maybe because he’s the only omegan pup, maybe because he’s Robin, maybe because he’s Bruce’s kid and therefore Dick’s brother. Pack, not just chosen like Rachel and Gar, but publicly and legally pack--a whole other level of pack. He doesn’t even know what to call it.
And he doesn’t smell like pack. Bruce hasn’t scented him, hasn’t claimed him as pack, and Dick itches; that’s very wrong, very very wrong, because he is supposed to be pack. But there’s nothing to show that, and Dick is unsettled. It’s wrong. No strong ginger root smell from Alfred, not even a hint of chocolate candy from Bruce. Dick hates it.
Jason’s not confident like Gar, not magically powered like Rachel, all faux bravado and an innate need to belong. Dick accepts that this is his life now, corralling pups in the tower like a true alpha, head of a pack he didn’t even mean to start.
It’s not until Jason gets sick that Dick gets the chance to claim him as pack; not because the kid can’t defend himself against the familial advances, but because the kid actually seeks out comfort.
Dick doesn’t know he’s sick until Jason comes stumbling into the livingroom at 11:30 in the morning; he glances up from the laptop he’s working on and has just enough time to shift the laptop to the side before he’s got an armful of omega teenager. The kid’s nose lands next to Dick’s scent glands, right along his collarbone, and Dick blinks.
“Uh hey, buddy.” He gently lets the laptop fall to the ground by the couch; he won’t be finishing his casefile anytime soon. One arm wraps loosely around Jason’s waist, the other one unsure with where to touch; finally, he decides on cradling Jason’s head in a show of alpha protectiveness and claiming. A soft act of showing dominance over the omega. “What’s going on?”
Jason sniffles but it’s thick and stuffy. “I don’t feel right.”
Dick’s hand moves from his hair to his brow. “Yup, you’ve got a fever there.” He smells...off too, something masking his natural cinnamon scent, making it seem far away and hard to detect. A burnt smell that overcomes everyone when they get sick and Dick wrinkles his nose at that.
Despite the little bit of extra experience Dick’s had with Rachel and Gar, he’s still ridiculously under equipped to handle a sick pup by himself. He works on shifting Jason to the side, intent on going to get Donna or Kori or hell even Connor, a pup himself, would be better at this than Dick!
Except he freezes at the slightly distressed whine that comes from low in the pup’s throat; something tells him to stay still, hold the pup close, and check for any injuries or dangers. The minute he freezes, tightens his grip on the kid, Jason relaxes and purrs--fucking purrs --and Dick blinks in confused surprise.
“Oh, hm… Okay.” He settles back into the couch cushions. “Yeah, we can stay here. Sure.”
Jason digs deeper against Dick’s chest; his loud purring has quieted down to a soft hum and Dick finds himself relaxing at the sound. The hum reverberates from Jason’s chest into Dick’s and he lets the vibrations lull him; unknowingly, his fingers start combing through Jason’s hair. He fishes his phone out of his pants pocket, shushes Jason gently when the kid starts whining again at the movement.
“Just gonna see if Kori can pick you up some medicine while she’s out.”
Jason rubs at his nose, knocks his knee against Dick’s, then shifts to push his face further against Dick’s neck; Dick lets him settle in. It’s an alpha’s purpose to let a pup--specifically, an omega pup--use them for comfort, whether that be their scent or warmth; and everyone knows Dick runs hot, Jason cold standing under layers of sweaters. He’s wondered if that has to do with being malnourished when the pup was little, growing up in such a stressful and unhealthy situation that now he’s cold all the time. Maybe a part of his instinct going into overdrive, forcing Jason to seek out someone who’ll nurture him the way his parents should’ve.
Dick shakes himself out of his thoughts, types out a quick message to Kori. on your way home, can you pick up some fever meds? Jay is sick. Her response is quick, a solid affirmative with a picture attached; it’s her and Rachel against a backdrop of a clothes store, both sporting pitying frowns. Dick huffs a quiet laugh; he lifts the phone overhead and throws an unsure smirk towards the camera.
send help , he types out and sends the photo; absently, he rubs his cheek against Jason’s head. He jolts when he realizes, glancing down at the sleeping pup, and wonders when the last time Bruce scented him was; it’s been...years, now that he thinks about it, but he still carries the scent underneath his natural one. That’s the way pack works, scents mixing together; Dick wonders how minty cinnamon will smell, thinks it’s going to be a little off putting. Like the idea of chewing cinnamon gum after brushing your teeth--burning at the back of your throat.
Dick hums thoughtfully; that’s not necessarily a bad thing. He likes that burn; maybe when their scents mix it’ll be like that. Dick tips his cheek back against Jason’s hair. His phone buzzes and he checks the reply; two big red hearts and Dick puts the phone away. It’s a waiting game now, and Dick doesn’t dare reach for his laptop; that’d dislodge Jason too much, maybe even wake the pup, and Dick feels a spike of distress at that thought.
Nope, the burglary case can wait; Bludhaven isn’t going to fall apart if Officer Grayson doesn’t solve this crime immediately. But that thought leads into wondering if pup Jason would fall apart if he didn’t have Dick to fall back on; damn, how close was he to falling apart without Bruce or Alfred claiming him?
Dick scrubs his cheek a bit more fiercely against Jason; the pup stretches out in his sleep, a soft sound coming from between his lips, and Dick eases up on the scenting. For now. Later, when Jason’s feeling better, Dick’s gonna scent his glands and the soft spots on his wrist--make him a true pack member, make sure everyone knows that’s his little brother.
Dick wakes from the soft doze he fell into when the elevator dings open; his arms tighten around the pup still curled in his lap, momentarily ready to snarl at the alphas that are encroaching onto his packmember’s safety. Except he recognizes the two alphas--other packmates--and forces his muscles to relax; Kori is eyeing him carefully as she traipses further into the living area, feeling out this sudden change in him, but Rachel is unperturbed.
The girl tosses herself onto the other couch and blows a bubble with her gum; she’s got a bright pink roll of hubba bubba gum tape that she’s flipping around in one hand, tapping it against her thigh, and she’s eyeing Jason closely.
“Is he gonna be okay?” She nods over to Jason; she’s used to his prickly hedgehog nature, tense and calm and cool. Not this side of him, the pup side seeking comfort--and it’s different with each presentation, softer with omegas. The wrinkles between her eyebrows are telling of her concern.
Dick holds a hand out for the pill bottle that Kori is holding onto; Kori, bless her heart and soul, does everything right. She doesn’t pay any attention to Jason, makes eye contact with Dick only brief enough to show respect, and then averts her gaze somewhere over his shoulder. The proper way to pay respect to an overprotective alpha. He takes the bottle with a thankful nod.
“You don’t have much experience with omegas, do you, Rachel?”
She ponders that for a moment, then shakes her head. “No, I guess I don’t.”
Dick has to laugh at that. “He’s fine; or will be fine. He’s just going to be a little clingy; that’s the omega pup in him. Remember when you were sick a few weeks back?” She nods and he continues. “You’re an alpha, so your presentation for comfort was different than what his is. You liked being fussed over, but at a distance right?”
She nods; her attention is focused on the gum tape. She did like the fussing; but at a distance, like Dick said. She appreciated when he bundled her in blankets, checked on her frequently, occasionally stepping closer and checking her temperature; she doesn’t think she’d appreciate anything closer, kinder, more intimate than that.
Dick tears the cardboard around the bottle, breaks the seal, removes the stuffing inside the bottle; he shakes out two tylenol, twists the cap back on, and tosses it to the side. He squeezes gently at the back of Jason’s neck; the pup hisses, a noise of annoyance, and Dick chuckles. His laugh morphs into a soft rumble and Jason’s hissing quiet down into an unhappy hum; the pup peaks out from one bloodshot eye.
“Hey, can you sit up and take this pills real quick?” Dick doesn’t wait for an affirmation; he starts shifting the boy upright. He takes control, because that’s what Jason needs right now. “Here,” Dick offers the two white pills and Jason glances around for something to take them with. Kori appears suddenly, glass of water in hand, and only offers it when Dick gives her his blessing; the pup takes the pills and continues to nurse the water as he curls back up against Dick’s chest.
Dick shifts the pillow at his back and reaches out for the remote control; he’s going to keep them sitting up until the pup finishes the water. It would be just his luck for one of his pups to choke and die on water. Kori--god, Dick owes her so many favors after today--hand over the remote control and settles down with Rachel on the other couch. There are many bags scattered around them and Jason juts his chin out.
“Did you guys buy the whole store?”
“I don’t expect you to know anything about fashion.”
Jason sticks his tongue out at her. “Rachel, all you wear is black.”
“Shades of black,” Kori corrects.
After a couple episodes of Forensic Files, Gar emerges from the training room; he falters at the group gathered in the living room and makes a beeline for Dick’s couch. Jason has fallen back asleep and Dick twists some of his dark hair around his finger.
“Can I help you?” he asks, looking at Gar in amusement.
The beta is practically buzzing out of his skin. “I didn’t know there was a cuddle pile going on!” Gar searches for a place to fit into.
“I gotta warn you, Jay’s sick; pretty sure he caught it from Rachel.”
Gar shrugs, waves his hand as if he can move Jason with his mind. “I don’t care; let me get in on this!”
Dick shifts Jason more to the side; the pup fits between him and the couch back easily, only a brief fuss that Dick soothes away with a gentle rumble. Gar eagerly takes the empty space and hunkers down for the foreseeable future; Dick sighs, arms full of pup, and accepts his fate.