Dick doesn’t realize it right away, but it starts with a stick of chapstick that isn’t his. In his room. Under his bed. It’s innocent enough. He picks it up from the carpet along with the sweater he was searching for and tosses it in the trash can; chapstick is easily replaceable, so whoever’s it is can just get a new one.
He fits his arms through the sweater sleeves and glances over to where Raven is painting Jason’s nails; he steps for the elevator and nods towards the pups. “You two behave yourselves while I’m gone.”
Jason blows at his folded nails, the middle finger raised high, and Raven giggles.
“Seriously,” Dick rumbles but that doesn’t deter Jason’s sass. “Behave; Kori and I will be back in a few hours.”
When he comes back, he realizes his mistake in not warning Gar about behaving. The entire tower is littered with toilet paper and glitter, Raven’s hair a mess of sparkly flakes and Gar’s cheeks highlighted by the light catching at just the right angle. Jason is sprawled half on, half off the couch nursing a beer--who brought beer into the tower?--and his nails are no longer black but a mirage of rainbow colors. On the flatscreen plays The Greatest Showman and all three pups sing off key to the musical.
Dick takes a deep breath; patience is a virtue, says Kori’s wise eyes, and he takes another breath to laugh it out.
The next strange item he finds in his room is an unpaired sock; it’s been left tossed across his dresser, but he doesn’t recognize the Wonder Woman logo as one of his nor can he find a match for it. Not in his drawers, and not in his laundry basket. He puts it on the counter in the kitchen, assuming whoever’s it is will pick it up.
Except it shows up back in his room within just a few hours, this time with a match and another pair of socks--Black Canary this time. Dick frowns. He doesn’t know of anyone wearing caricature socks, nor does he know why they’ve decided to store them in his room; the only conclusion he can come to is their laundry is getting mixed up. He goes to Donna first.
“Are these yours?”
She furrows her brows at them, chewing slowly on a protein bar. “No,” she mumbles around the food. “Are they yours?”
His disappointment is palpable. “If they were mine would I be asking you if they’re yours?”
She throws a loud laugh over her shoulder and he asks Dawn next, Kori just to be sure, and then he asks Raven. Gar, holding a rat against his shoulder, laughs.
“She wears shades of black, Dick, seriously?”
“Where did you get a rat?”
A blink, completely shocked that Dick would even ask such a question. “Her name is Dumbo and she lives in an alley on Franklin Street.”
“And she’s here because…?”
“We’re just visiting; aren’t I allowed friends over?”
Raven boops the rat on the nose. “He’s lying; he adopted it yesterday.”
Jason enters the room and Dick snatches away the energy drink he was drinking. “These,” Dick chastises, “are so unhealthy for you! Plus, you don’t need anymore adrenaline through your veins.”
His angry frown is almost a pout and Dick hardens his heart against the omega’s plight. “Are you being sexist? I can’t have an energy drink because I’m an omega?”
“No! No, it’s because you already have enough energy.” Dick puts the can to the side. “We all know that bullshit about omega physiology being corrupted by certain food groups is--”
“Bullshit?” Gar finishes; he’s absently petting down the brown back of his rat friend and Jason wiggles his fingers at the little creature.
“Exactly.” Dick indicates Gar with a toss of the socks and Jason steps forward.
“Oh, you found my socks!” He grabs the Wonder Woman pair and starts trying to shove his feet into them without sitting down, hopping on one leg while tugging the sock onto the other foot. “Thanks!”
After the sock mystery, the unknown items start getting more and more noticeable, larger, and in more numbers. A blanket is added to his bed, a cup of coffee that is not his sits on his bedside table for days, a familiar yellow sweater is left crumpled in a heap on his floor. He gives them back to Jason, mostly by just returning them to his room, and when he complains to Kori about this the alien woman is aghast.
“Richard Grayson!” she nigh yells. “Did Alfred not teach you etiquette?”
He gapes. “Uh, what? Yes, I know my manners.”
She waves her hand. “No, no! Dynamic etiquette.” At Dick’s blank stare Kori huffs. “He’s nesting; he’s claiming you as his pack by claiming your den as his nest. His home.” She lets him wrap his mind around that, before dropping the next bomb. “And you’re rejecting him by returning the items to him.”
For a moment, all is still; and then Dick erupts in a flurry of upset. He stands and paces, hands pulling at his hair, an upset growl building and building in his chest; it bursts out his throat and he turns back towards Kori with clear distress on his face.
“I’m not trying to reject him! Fuck, Kori, Bruce and Alfred didn’t even scent him! But he’s pack and he belongs; god dammit, what do I do? How do I fix this?”
She fights an amused smile; she doesn’t think the worried alpha would appreciate that. “It’s alright; this all happened in the beginning, which is a good time to have a misunderstanding like this. Any further into the process would be a lot more damaging to him; let him claim your room and offer some extra attention to let him know he’s welcome.”
Dick takes that to heart; he offers the pup food, part instinct to nurture the omega and part apology. At dinner time, Dick offers him double the portions; he spoons out vegetables onto the pup’s plate, hands over a set of utensils in a show of parental care. Jason accepts the extra food with little care, but he snatches the utensils and frowns at Dick.
“I’m no child!”
Dick tries again later; as an afternoon snack, he delivers a cut apple and a handful of crackers and cheese to the gaming room. Jason stuffs a cracker in his mouth between popping off shots to the enemy NPCs, and Gar yells out thank you over his shoulder.
It doesn’t take long before Jason is once more laying claim to Dick’s room; the blanket is back, thick and fluffy, and a pair of shoes has made home next to Dick’s dresser. A handful of dirty dishes also has migrated into his room, though Dick doesn’t know if Jason’s been relaxing in his room while eating or just leaves the dishes for him to find. The dishes seem to be less of a claim and more of an annoyance.
Dick finds it oddly endearing, so much so that as he’s passing the chair Jason has curled up in, book in hand, he takes a moment to swipe his cheek against Jason’s hair. The pup ducks away in surprise before stretching out with a half-aborted purr; Dick takes that as an initiative to scent the pup a little more before moving on. He knows Jason has limits, but there’s a part of Dick that wants to push a little more, wants to test those limits, wants Jason to respond positively to him.
“You’re obsessing,” Kori breaks into his train of thought, flipping a page in her colorful magazine. “One of the poor characteristics of us alphas: obsession and possessiveness. Doubled when an omega is involved.”
“I’m aware, Kori, thank you.” Dick pinches the bridge of his nose. “How do I deal with it?”
She shrugs her shoulders and widens her eyes, as if to say not my problem ; she turns another page, dismissing him. He groans and throws himself dramatically across the couch cushions.
A weight hits him strong and sudden, knocks the breath out of him momentarily, and his nose tickles at the scent of cinnamon; he moves his arm to cradle the pup carefully, still lamenting his alpha instincts, and only grunts a little bit when Jason elbows him in the stomach.
“You’re sulking; I could smell the stink from my room.”
Dick rumbles an apology; he tickles the back of the pup’s ear, teasing at first and then softer. He shifts his hormone levels to sweeten his scent, easing the sulking stink from his body so Jason doesn’t get nauseous. He watches Jason scroll through his phone; a glance to Kori shows an amused smirk tugging at her lips.
The nesting grows to an all new high when Jason traipses into his room, the clock ticking over to 11 at night, dragging a pillow and yet another blanket behind him; Dick keeps brushing his teeth but his brows dip in a question and he waves a hand petulantly as the omega starts settling the bed into something comfortable. He burrows under the blankets once satisfied with their positioning, curled against one of Dick’s pillows, and starts huffing impatiently when it seems Dick has no intentions to hurry to bed.
Dick spits the toothpaste out and rinses with water; he spits once more, very slowly puts his toothbrush down, and turns towards the door. “I’m not going to hurry through brushing my teeth just because you’re pouting.”
Jason raises a glare from his nest. “I’m not pouting! I just want the light off.”
Dick ponders leaving it on, just for humored spite, but he doesn’t want to mess up again; courting a pack mate can be so complicated. Maybe he should go to the library, borrow some of those parenting books so he can learn all the dos and donts of society. He flicks the light off and makes his way to the bed, thankfully without stubbing his toes. He gets himself comfortable in the space allotted for him, lets Jason set the rules.
“If you kick me, this isn’t going to work.”
Jason’s low purr bursts into a chuckle and he starts messing with the blankets again, a sudden burst of nervous flurry; his scent grows more and more agitated and Dick lets it go for five minutes before he grabs at Jason’s wrist, stilling his movements.
“Jay,” he speaks quietly; he purposefully doesn’t inject an alpha growl into his voice, doesn’t want to test the limits too much, doesn’t want to lose the progress they’ve made. “Jay, go to sleep; the nest is fine.”
Rebelliously, the pup gives one last big fluff to the blankets; he tosses the pillow he was curled up with to the floor and flops against Dick’s chest. He curls up close, content, and his purring comes in gentle spurts; Dick moves his fingers behind Jason’s exposed ear, brushing in what he hopes is a comforting gesture, and waits until Jason’s purring has turned into a melodic and consistent sound before he lets himself relax.
The pup’s smell has gone from a choking feeling to his normal warm cinnamon and Dick knows all is well; he can sleep too. His family omega is safe, happy, warm.
Come morning, Dick wakes early as always; the sun is just beginning to rise, but there’s still a pup curled against his side snoring ever so softly and Dick doesn’t move. At least, not too much. He takes his phone from the bedside table for entertainment, but he makes sure Jason doesn’t get too unsettled. There’s an instinct to make sure Jason gets as much sleep as possible, so Dick stays quiet and still; he lets Jason sleep in.
Very rarely do they sleep in; Dick knows this from the mornings that he makes breakfast for everyone. He’s almost always the first on awake, and Jason follows quickly too. But this morning it isn’t until 9 that Jason starts stirring; Dick has had to pee for so long that when Jason stretches out, letting out a soft mew, he sets the pup to the side and rolls out of bed. He tries to leave the nest as undisturbed as possible, but when he comes back out Jason is pouting down at the mess of blankets; he raises his bleary gaze to the alpha, shooting out a small glare.
“You messed up the nest.”
Dick doesn’t see what has been altered but he apologizes all the same. “Sorry; I really had to pee.”
Jason smirks and jumps out of bed--leaving the nest a complete mess. Dick only feels partially annoyed at that, being blamed for a messy nest when clearly it’s Jason’s fault.
“C’mon!” Jason calls from the hallway. “I’m hungry!”
Dick follows the pup out to the kitchen, following the sound of a fire alarm; the kitchen is fogged with smoke, Donna and Hank arguing by a pan that’s sizzling in the sink, cold water pouring over it. By the table stands Dawn and Kori, a humored smile on Dawn’s face as she sips what smells like perfectly roasted coffee; behind her sits Raven and Gar, the latter laying face down on the tabletop.
“We’re going to starve!” laments the shapeshifter and his distress is palpable through the room; Dick only squashes his alpha instinct to reassure the pup because he knows Gar is just being an overdramatic beta.
“You’re not going to starve,” Dick answers all the same, light and teasing.
“Oh thank god!” Donna cries; she throws down a towel and skirts around a pile of paste-y flour on the floor. “I don’t know how you do it every morning, but the oatmeal is rock solid, the pancakes are burnt, and I didn’t even know eggs could transmute themselves into something else!”
Hank storms out of the kitchen. “They didn’t do it themselves! You burnt them just like the pancakes!”
“You were in charge of the pancakes, bird brain!”
Dick peers into the pot on the stovetop; yup, that oatmeal is cement now. And his kitchen is a mess; he’s about to say as much when Jason pipes up.
“Didja just throw shit everywhere?” He shuffles into the warzone; Dick realizes he’s wearing an oversized sweatshirt. His oversized sweatshirt, in fact; when did Jason snag that? “What’d you need all this flour for? Why is there butter on the ceiling?” His voice goes up an octave and he starts scrubbing at...something caked onto the countertop. “You’re all animals!”
“Hey!” comes a muffled objection from Gar. “Animals are cool!”
“Get your rat off the table, Gar.”
Jason pauses in his scrubbing long enough to blurt out, “is that a euphemism?” and Raven falls into quiet giggles.
Dick throws his hands up; defeated. He is utterly defeated. “I’m never sleeping in again!”