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Second Chance

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She couldn’t do this.

Damian. Her precious little Damian. The baby with a beautiful smile. Infectious laugh. Adorable babble. Who so sweetly, so gently, pet any stray cat that sat still long enough for him to ‘catch.’ Who hugged anyone that cared for him, and even the random servants who lingered long enough.

That baby. Her baby.

Watching him, at 18-months-old, be taught how to wield a sword. Watching as the trainer smacked his hands, his side, his face, every time he wobbled, or lost interest, or got confused.

Hearing his cry, and seeing his pleading eyes, whenever it happened.

Seeing him look at her, and call for her, then get distraught because she did nothing.

She just stood there.

Next to her father.

And watched.

There was nothing more she could do. Going against her father would only bring more harm on her son. It would only risk Father taking Damian from her entirely.

But she couldn’t do this.

It felt like her heart was being ripped out of her body.

Someone was inside her, with red hot claws, scratching away. Destroying everything. Killing her.

Her stomach was filling with vile acid, and just one move, one word, and it might come up.

Weakness, her father would say.

Useless.

Pathetic.

Perhaps that is why he ordered her presence, for this training session.

She’d hardly been allowed time with her son. Not in nearly a year had she been granted daily visits with him.

Her father had been disappointed in how attached she’d been becoming.

He is to be a warrior,’ Father had said, ‘worthy of his station. He cannot become the Demon’s head if he is soft.’

Perhaps it was then she should have done something.

Said something.

But instead, she just bowed her head and followed orders.

Like a good daughter would do.

What use was that now?

Damian whimpered again, as his trainer smacked him on the back with the flat of his blade. He’d started slouching. They were working on form.

Talia resisted closing her eyes. She knew, she knew if she did, she would not be able to stop the tears that followed.

She had to remain strong. Stable. Unaffected….

Unaffected in her father’s eyes, at least.

When she’d lied to Bruce, when she’d told him she’d miscarried…. What was she thinking?

She- she hadn’t wanted to betray her father. Hadn’t wanted to betray the League. This was her life. She’d been raised in this, she owed everything she had. Her training. Her wealth. Her skills. Everything to her father.

But-

But what did that matter?

Was it worth it? Was her son worth it?

“All done,” Damian pleaded, when he fell over and scraped his hands on the hard cement, “all done all done all done.”

The trainer just stood him back up and handed him the sword again, ignoring his cries.

When Damian looked at her and cried, “Mama,” again, Talia could taste the bile.

How could she have just handed her son over to Ra’s like this? What kind of monster was she?

Her son was crying for her, and she was standing by, watching him be hurt.

All because her father told her to.

The fact that he knew to call her ‘Mama’ was all because she snuck in to see him. Ordered his nursemaids to leave the room. Swore them to secrecy.

Had killed, a few of them…

She’s more than sure Ra’s had noticed, now.

As Talia stood there, watching her son struggle to stop crying and listen to his trainer, Talia made a decision.

Because nearly two years ago, when she’d told Bruce about her ‘miscarriage,’ she’d made a huge mistake.

Her father’s influence was toxic.

This training?

It was hell.

Talia loved what it’d turned her into, she loved her skills and abilities.

But if this was the cost?

This?

Her child?

There was only one place on earth where she’d be safe, where he’d be safe. One person able to offer that protection.

And once Talia told him, she knew he’d move heaven and earth to get them away.

- - -

To say Bruce was suspicious would be an understatement.

Talia had broken ties with him two years prior.

On not-so-friendly terms, at that.

She’d betrayed him. Joined her father, and all but stabbed him in the back in doing so.

He’d loved her.

He really had.

She had been- he thought she was-

They were going to spend their lives together. Raise a child. He thought she was-

But that was over. In the past.

And yet, there she was, staring back at him through a webcam, asking for his help.

Asking for help, after hacking into his computer, in the cave, where his son could enter at any moment.

How on earth was he supposed to explain his past fling with Talia al Ghul to Jason?

“Why should I trust you?” he asked, not really expecting an answer.

Because how would he be able to deny her request?

Once upon a time, he would have died for this opportunity. Would have cried, from utter relief, to get her away from the League. To bring her home. Keep her safe.

Yes. She could keep herself safe. Defend herself. Hold her own, against even him, but he could offer his protection of the entire Justice League. If it came down to it.

He’d loved her.

But she’d chosen her father. Chosen a life as an assassin. Rejected him. And it was hard for him to forget that.

“I lied to you,” she said, pulling his attention back to the present, “I lied.”

She said it with such finality, Bruce narrowed his eyes. And just stared.

He was sure she’d lied about many things. Why was this the ‘reason?’ And why would lying be a reason to trust her now?

To give her a chance, now?

“About?” he pressed, ignoring the thought in the back of his head asking whether this was all a distraction so the League could move in on Gotham.

Alarms would be going off, if that were the case. Literal alarms, in the cave.

Besides, the League hadn’t been doing anything in the United States for many months.

They were too busy building up their forces in the Alps. Bruce still had no idea why, but they’d been beefing up their presence there for over a year and a half.

“You know about what,” Talia said, gently. Almost apologetically.

His heart fluttered, a little.

There was one thing. One thing, that had she been lying about, he’s not sure he’d be angry about.

Not right now, at least.

“Bruce,” she pled, “I- I’ve made a mistake.” Her voice cracked, and she rested a hand against the side of her face as she looked off to the side, away from her camera. “Father is so cruel to him, Bruce. I need your help.”

No.

Anger was definitely not the emotion he was feeling. It- it was down there. It was deep, deep down there, and later that night. Or, perhaps, in a few days, he knew he would hit a punching bag until his knuckles were bloody.

But on top? Right now?

On top was hope.

Hope, excitement, and… and utter devastation.

“Him?” Bruce whispered, resisting the urge to rip his mask off and rub at his face. He was on camera, he had to remind himself. He had no idea how many people were watching.

And this could all be one magnificent lie. A trick to get him off balance. So they could strike, while he had his guard down.

While he was yearning for something he’d thought he’d lost, two years prior.

“He’s beautiful, Bruce,” she whispered, her voice catching on the next sentence, “He looks just like you, and I can tell he gets his empathy from you. But,” she paused, a ferocious determination taking over her face. A trait of her’s that had caused Bruce to fall in the first place.

“Father will destroy him if we don’t get him away.”

There would be no ‘ifs.’

If Bruce had ever had a mission that had no option for failure, it was this one.

He didn’t care if Talia changed her mind, ten minutes later. This mission was happening, and he was bringing home what he thought he’d lost.

Bruce has no idea how he got through the following ten minutes, planning out with Talia exactly how and when the pickup would go. Nightwing, Robin and himself would all approach the compound in the batwing, in stealth mode. He’d pulled Clark in on the call, and Superman agreed he would be on standby, watching from afar for anything to go wrong.

If they were spotted, or if the League tried anything, the entire Justice League would respond, if necessary.

Clark promised he’d keep the mission itself classified. No one but the core team would know the details of what they were picking up. The core team being himself, the Flash, and the Bats.

His ears were ringing the entire time, and he felt like an outsider, looking in.

He looks just like you,’ Talia had said.

That’s all he could think about.

Bruce had a son.

There-

Was there anything more to say?

He had a son.

“Talia,” he rasped, just before she cut the call with him. After a deep breath, he looked deep into the camera, doing his best to convey his seriousness. His promise, should it be necessary. “If this is a trick.”

With sadness in her eyes, Talia smiled and said, “We will see you tomorrow, Beloved,” and with that, ended the call.

It came as no surprise when, not even a quarter of a second later, the papers on his desk flew up into the air. Each one wafting back down, before Bruce even had the chance to close his eyes and take a breath.

Bringing Clark in on this was necessary.

As much as he hated bringing personal missions to those outside the family, there was no way he could risk this one.

If Talia was telling the truth, and he wasn’t successful on his own. Wasn’t able to take on the entire League while protecting a helpless infant.

Well.

He’d never forgive himself.

Ever.

But none of that meant he had to be happy his best friend was there to witness this.

“Bruce, this is,” Clark started, setting a hand on his shoulder and squeezing, but Bruce cut him off.

“Clark, just,” he said, pulling his mask off so he could finally wipe his eyes. He wasn’t even mortified at the crack in his voice, because there was far too many other things swirling through his head. “Give me a minute.”

He had… so much to do. He hadn’t time for this.

And yet…

It was the only thing he could do.

Closing his eyes, Bruce took a second to recenter himself. Find his strength and embrace his duties. Right now, he needed to be Batman.

But before he was able to complete a single deep breath, he heard from the top of the stairs, “B?”

And everything just became much more complicated.

“Bruce?” Jason asked again, a little hesitantly, as he made his way down the stairs, “Superman? What’s wrong? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Bruce said, reeling it all in and trying his best to blink back the wetness in his eyes. So maybe he wouldn’t have to wipe his face in front of his son.

His… middle son.

Because, Bruce actually had three…

“Is Dick okay?” Jason asked a little more frantically, because despite his best efforts, Bruce sniffed.

“He’s fine,” Clark soothed, squeezing Bruce’s shoulder a little tighter as Jason hurried his way down the stairs, “Nothing is wrong, Jase.”

“Then why is…” Jason said, trailing off when he finally made it to where Bruce was sitting.

They had so much to do. Bruce hadn’t the time for this.

It was time for Batman.

“Suit up,” he told his son, shrugging Clark’s hand off and squaring his shoulders. They had just under three hours before take off, and there was so much to do. “We have a mission.”

- - -

By ‘a mission,’ Bruce meant they were infiltrating the freaking League of Assassins.

Like.

In the middle of the day. Completely randomly.

Well, they were set to leave in three hours, with a 5 hour flight time. And considering the time difference, it would actually be about 4am when they arrived at Nanda Parbat.

So.

Middle of the night, kind of.

Jason was both super excited, and kind of freaked out.

Especially when Bruce called in Dick.

Those two worked together, sure. Sometimes. But it was always so fucking tense, and Jason kind of hated it.

Bruce also always refused to call in Dick for anything. Dick always just kind of, forced himself in on the mission.

But for this?

Whatever the fuck this was?

It had Bruce calling in not only Dick Grayson, but Superman, too.

Because that’s why Superman had been there. He’d already called the guy in.

Whatever was going on, it was huge.

And whatever it was, Jason actually started feeling very nervous. Because Bruce said he had news to share. And he called Alfred down first, before he shared it.

Bruce paced. Back and forth, back and forth. In front of the conference table for two full minutes while the four of them sat there, waiting for him to fucking say something.

“Do you want me?” Clark asked, and was immediately shot down by a glare from Bruce.

Was Bruce dying?

Were they going to the League to steal some pit water??

Because he said he was okay.

Clark said he was okay, and Clark wouldn’t lie about something like that. Right? Jason wouldn’t put it past Bruce at all to be a freaking hypocrite and lie to him so not to make him worry, but not Clark.

He was way too much a boy scout.

Yet, there Bruce was. Pacing back and forth. Freaking out about something.

B, you’re freaking the kid out,” Dick said, leaning back in his chair, like he was fucking relaxed during this.

Their freaking dad could be dying and he was chill about it.

No wonder his name was Dick.

“I am not,” he protested, but Bruce quit his pacing and sighed, anyway.

“Honestly, Master Bruce,” Alfred said, from where he sat next to Jason, “Whatever it is, I am confident we can handle it.”

“A couple years ago,” Bruce started, pausing to sigh again before he turned his back to them, but continued, “I got… involved… with Talia al Ghul.”

“Gross. I knew it,” Dick said, pulling a face for Jason to see.

“From the League of Assassins,” Jason said, just to clarify.

So… were they staging this mission so Bruce could go…

Ew.

Gross.

Disgusting.

Jason hated his mind for putting that picture in his head.

“Yes,” Bruce confirmed, apparently uncaring that he’d just put horrible awful pictures in Jason’s head.

He was thirteen. This was probably child abuse.

“It was serious,” he continued, “We had been… discussing marriage.”

“Oh my,” Alfred said, in as close to a gasp as Jason had ever heard from Alfred.

Jason didn’t blame him. Bruce had never really struck Jason as a ‘serious’ kinda guy.

Not with the ladies, at least.

Mostly because he had a different chick hanging off of him at every party.

“She had been with child,” Bruce finally said, nearly stumbling over his words as he spit the sentence out.

The air in the room seemed to still, and they all stared at Bruce.

Well, all of them, except Clark. Since apparently Clark already knew.

“Why… why,” Dick stammered, then stopped.

Jason didn’t really know what to ask first, either.

But apparently Bruce knew what to answer first.

“She told me she miscarried. She, she told me. I thought-“ with another sigh, Bruce turned back around, finally allowing them to see the exhaustion on his face, as he rubbed at it and sat down at the head of the table.

“I thought she’d miscarried. She dumped me, after that. Refused to leave her father and the League, and sent me home. I- I should have checked up on it. Verified her story, but… I was just so-”

Bruce put his face in his hands, and just sat there, for a very long minute.

Dick, to Jason’s surprise, was the one to break the silence, because neither he nor Alfred seemed to be able to find any words. Jason had never heard Bruce so close to tears, before.

He was kind of scared of getting Bruce to talk more.

And if Bruce was saying what he was saying, well…

Jason really had no words for it.

Batman apparently had a baby.

And they were going to rescue it from the League of Assassins.

That was just…

Wow.

Holy.

Shit.

“So,” Dick said, a small smile tugging on his lips as he did, “is it a boy or a girl?”

- - -

Everything was going smoothly.

They had agreed on a meet-up time eight hours from the end of their call, which meant Talia had most the night to figure out her plan for getting Damian out of his nursery.

In the end, she’d decided on using simple tranquilizer darts.

It was dirty, a completely dishonorable way to fight, but Talia couldn’t find it in herself to care.

The very last thing she needed was for one of the nursemaids to notice her break-in and alert the guards.

She’d packed her bag before heading to Damian’s room, so all she had left to do was grab him before Bruce arrived.

Sneaking into his room was painfully easy, and she only had to sedate one nursemaid, who had already been asleep, anyway.

Honestly. It couldn’t have been easier, and it was putting Talia on edge.

Damian stirred, when she lifted him from the crib, so Talia shoved the pacifier into his mouth she knew he’d been deprived of for eight months at that point.

He’d taken to sucking his thumb, in its stead, and Talia had always hated that about her father’s rules.

Why was it so difficult to indulge her son in one simple comfort.

The pacifier worked like a charm, and Damian latched onto it with one hand as he sucked away, curling into Talia’s hold as she wrapped the cloth around them both, creating a make-shift carrier.

Out of everything, the hardest part was getting him tied to her securely. Because with the pacifier, he was as quiet as a lamb, not making a single peep of protest. She wasn’t even sure if he’d woken enough to see who had been holding him.

After the day he’d had, Talia was grateful he could still find peace in his sleep.

Climbing up to the roofs was a little more difficult. Damian did whine, a little, when she had to press herself up against the wall of the third floor, to hide from a patrolling guard below.

She closed her eyes and held her breath, begging every deity she could think of to keep Damian silent as the guard paused and looked around. After adjusting her grip, so she could hold them both with one hand, she placed her newly free hand on his head and tried to soothe him.

Damian shifted against her, even though he was pinned rather tightly between her and the wall, then stilled. His little pacifier bobbing in and out as he grasped tightly to her blouse.

The guard looked around, up and down the narrow courtyard below where she was climbing, but after a long minute, turned around and continued on with his patrol.

Talia didn’t allow herself a sigh of relief.

With three more moves, Talia reached the edge of the roof and pulled herself up, without scraping Damian against the edge. He didn’t notice in his sleep.

Soon, he’d be able to pass all his nights in such peace.

His days, too.

She had no doubt in her mind that Bruce would offer them the sanctuary they needed, to allow Damian to grow up without fears.

But, if he didn’t, she’d find it anyway.

This child. Her child, would never know the pain he’d experienced that day again.

As silently as she’d been trained, Talia raced across the rooftops to the pickup location. Bruce was promised to be there in two minutes, and she needed to be three buildings over.

“Shh,” she whispered, hugging Damian tightly as she ran. The movement was, apparently, disrupting his sleep, and he’d started to stir, “sleep, my prince.”

“Mama,” he mumbled, snuggling against her.

“Yes,” she choked, preparing to make the last jump to the roof where Bruce was to meet them, “Mama is here, baby.”

She’d given Bruce the coordinates of the highest roof in the complex, in hopes that he could simply swoop in and grab them, not needing to stop or interact with anyone.

He was bringing his team, though. He was bringing Superman.

Talia had never had any sort of admiration for the alien. His technique was abysmal, tending to toss around his unearthly strength, rather than exhibit any skill during his fights.

But knowing that, if it came down to it, she could likely just shout ‘Superman,’ and in an instant he’d be there, ready and able to take Damian to safety… It helped keep her calm.

Father would not be expecting the help of a Kryptonian. Bruce had never been one to ask for help, so it was unlikely Father would have his kryptonite within reach.

The final jump was a little longer than comfortable, and Talia had to land in a roll to avoid injuring herself or falling off completely. She rolled on her back, using her arms to keep Damian from making contact with the roof at all.

Her heart was hammering when she finished the roll on her feet. She had thirty more yards to go, and she’d been at the exact coordinates she’d given Bruce.

Thirty more yards, and one more minute.

Talia shook, as she stood in the exact spot. Damian was fully awake now, and wriggling against the cloth wrapped around him.

“Be still, my dear,” she whispered, hugging him a little tighter as she searched the night sky for any sign of their rescue, “Just a few more moments.”

“Out,” Damian cried, not quite at a normal level, but much louder than Talia felt comfortable with, as he started struggling against her arms, “Down.”

“In a moment,” she whispered desperately. Her arms felt like rubber, as the adrenaline that had kept her running started to ebb.

It was a minute past pickup, and Batman was no where in sight.

If he didn’t show…

Damian whined out again, this time loudly.

“Be patient, my love,” she whispered, now fighting back tears, “Your father is coming for us.”

He had to be.

“Mama,” Damian cried, pulling his pacifier out of his mouth completely to whine at her more efficiently.

She looked around frantically, making sure no guards were near enough to have heard him.

When she didn’t see anyone coming at them, she bounced Damian some and tried to force the pacifier back into his mouth. “It’s okay, it’s okay,” she repeated, over and over, really unsure, at this point, if it was for Damian or herself.

Because if Bruce weren’t coming, was any of his team?

Was she just standing on a roof, risking the life of her son for nothing?

Father would not take lightly an attempted defection.

What would he do to Damian?

Probably take him away from her forever. She’d never see him again. Never know the pain he was in. Never be able to hold him, after a hard day, and comfort him. Remind him of her love.

She’d lose him forever, and-

Talia’s knees nearly buckled when, without warning, a jet materialized not ten feet above her.

His technology was amazing. She hadn’t even felt it coming, much less heard it.

And before she even realized it, tears were streaming down her face.

A hatch opened, right on the underside of the jet, and Batman himself leaned out, reaching a hand down to her.

“Talia,” he breathed, shaking his hand, as if desperately begging her to grab it.

She’d never accepted an offered hand so fast in her life.

As he pulled her up into the jet, swiftly and effortlessly, as if it were nothing, Talia felt herself relax. All the adrenaline leave her body entirely as she collapsed right onto the ground of Bruce’s jet.

She didn’t even care who all was there to see.

Because for the first time in her life, Talia felt like she could breathe.

- - -

She hadn’t been lying.

That was the only thing circling through Bruce’s head as he pulled Talia up into the jet, them stopping barely long enough for him to do that before Dick was turning around and racing away.

As far as they could tell, they hadn’t been spotted until they turned off the craft’s cloaking system.

If all went to plan, the League would not be able to respond quickly enough to catch them. Nightwing was supposed to take them on an indirect route back to Gotham, completely in stealth mode.

Ra’s al Ghul could search the skies all night and never find them.

He hoped.

But all that was for Nightwing to worry about. That had been the plan. If Talia was telling the truth, he’d agreed, Bruce could focus on that, while Dick handled keeping them hidden and taking them to safety. Jason could give him backup, if necessary.

Bruce trusted Dick with his life.

And he was so thankful for that, because he wasn’t sure he’d be able to do much beyond what he was currently doing.

Which was watching as Talia collapsed onto the floor, clumsily freeing a baby from a carrier as she cried into his hair.

“Tal-“ he started, reaching an hand out to her, really unsure about what he was going to do. But he froze, when the baby squirmed and twisted out of the cloth holding him.

Because Talia was right.

He was beautiful.

His bright green eyes were mesmerizing, and Bruce felt his heart seize as the baby looked at him, ever so briefly.

It wasn’t until that very instant did Bruce realize his life had been incomplete.

There had been a piece of him missing, and he hadn’t even realized it.

The baby turned back to his mother and said, “Mama,” reaching up for her face.

“Yes,” Talia sobbed, grabbing his hand and holding it to her cheek, before she wrapped him up into a tight hug. “I’m so sorry,” she said, squeezing him tight, “I’m so sorry.”

Bruce watched helplessly as Talia devolved further and further into incoherence, as she whispered her apologies and proclaimed her love for the very confused looking baby in her arms.

The baby didn’t protest, though. He leaned into her hug and stayed there, like he understood his mother needed a hug back.

How old was he?

If he’d been born on time, by Bruce’s estimations, he’d be about…

Seventeen months old?

Eighteen?

He didn’t know much about baby development, but he did know that it was during the first year they turned from basically babies to tiny, outspoken little people.

How developed was his son? How much had Bruce missed?

Bruce knelt down in front of Talia and sat there, waiting for her to recover.

What she had been through, he had no idea.

It had to have been a lot, for her to reach out and actually ask for help.

She was stubborn, like that. Never asking for help. Never even expecting it.

And her reaction to being pulled into safety, well.

He was afraid to learn what she’d been through.

Jason caught his eye, lingering just on the outskirts of his vision. He looked up and tried to offer a reassuring face, but probably fell flat, because Jason frowned at him. But Jason held a thumbs up at him, both letting him know they’d flown into the clear and Superman had been informed of the successful mission, and asking if Bruce was good.

With a single nod, Bruce thanked him, and turned his attention back to Talia.

“I’m so sorry,” she said, looking at him, now, but still hugging the baby tightly to her.

“What happened?” he asked, resisting the urge to reach out and touch the baby.

Touch his son.

Bruce had never been one to want to hold babies, usually perfectly content to just observe them, but his arms yearned for the weight of this baby in his arms.

He didn’t even know his name.

“Father,” she said, her voice almost squeaking with the effort.

Bruce hadn’t seen her in two years, and he still wanted to pull her to his side.

Never had he seen her like this.

But he kept his distance. Let her recover on her own. He wasn’t sure how he felt about her, in that moment.

At all.

“Father,” she said again, this time much more confidently, one hand absently combing through the baby’s hair.

The beautiful baby who had twisted in her hold, just enough, to stare at him.

“Started his training.” There was so much pain in her voice, Bruce could only imagine what kind of horrors that meant.

Who trained a baby?

“Bruce,” she choked out, squeezing the baby again, “it was so bad. I- I just stood there and watched. I couldn’t- I couldn’t do anything else. He would have harmed him more. Or taken him from me.”

“What happened,” he repeated, trying to keep his voice as gentle as possible.

Any anger he had about whatever ‘training’ implied was being pushed down. Buried deep into the recesses of his brain.

No one needed his anger right now.

When the baby continued to stare at him, Bruce realized he still had his cowl on.

What kind of introduction was this? Being presented to his son as Batman, first.

Hopefully he hadn’t scared the kid too much to want to be held.

Talia started crying again, and shifted so she was sitting criss-cross, the baby still cradled in her arms as she blubbered out, “They hit him so many times, Bruce. I’m so sorry,” and before Bruce could even respond. Could even think of how to respond, she turned her face down to the baby and repeated, “I’m so sorry, Damian. I’m so sorry, my love. I’ll never let- I’ll never-

But she didn’t complete the sentence, because she’d lost it again, and the baby… Damian?

Damian.

That was the most beautiful name he’d ever heard.

Damian looked very confused and concerned for his mother’s mood.

“He’s safe now,” Bruce tried, scooting over to her side to set a hand on her back, “He’s safe.”

“I’m so sorry,” she repeated, curling further onto Damian.

“Mama,” Damian said again, this time pointing at Bruce when Talia opened her eyes and gave him her attention.

“Yes,” she said, smiling for the first time as she wiped her tears away, “Yes, dear. This is-“ she paused, looking up at Bruce, then said again, “This is Daddy.”

Bruce could cry.

He was not going to cry.

“Do you want to hold him?” Talia asked, apparently seeing the intense desire plastered all over his face.

All Bruce wanted to do was hold him. There was nothing on earth he wanted more.

“May I?” he asked, almost afraid to even try.

What if Damian didn’t like him?

What if he started crying, when Bruce took him?

“He’s your son, Bruce,” Talia said, lifting Damian from her lap and offering him over.

After hesitating for only a second, Bruce reached out and held his hands out to Damian, who looked at him appraisingly, like he were judging Bruce and determining if he was worth his attention.

But then, before Bruce could even hold his breath, Damian leaned toward him, and Bruce could definitely cry.

Because then Damian was in his arms, looking straight into his eyes as he let Bruce hold him close.

And-

And.

Bruce had no thoughts.

“Hi, Damian,” he choked out, trying his hardest not to cry, “I’m- I’m your-“ but he couldn’t get the word out.

Couldn’t get anything else out.

Damian didn’t seem to care, because he smiled at Bruce and said, “Hi,” back.

And Bruce was definitely crying, now.

Just a little.

But he didn’t care.

He didn’t care, because he had the son he thought he’d lost two years ago cradled in his arms, and nothing could ruin the moment.

- - -

Jason was thankful that the jet was large enough he didn’t have to hear Bruce talking to his new baby son.

He honestly had no idea how to feel about all of this.

Bruce had apparently done it with the daughter of one of their most dangerous villains, and he was now probably definitely crying tears of joy while he held the son of said villainous daughter.

But Jason wasn’t jealous.

How could he be?

The baby was just a baby. It’s not like the posed any sort of threat to Jason.

Except.

By… stealing away Bruce’s attention.

Jason was not being jealous of a baby. The baby deserved his dad’s attention. Especially since he had a dad as great as Bruce. Jason would know. He’d been playing the role of dad for him for a year.

Now, though… now he had a real son.

He was not jealous.

“Stop worrying,” Dick said, from where he was flying the jet, sitting in the seat next to Jason.

Jason had taken the spot of co-pilot just because it was the farthest away from Bruce he could be. He wasn’t really helping Nightwing fly.

Mostly because Nightwing didn’t need help flying. He actually had the auto-pilot engaged.

“I’m not worrying.”

“You’re right,” Dick said, laughing a little as he leaned back in his chair, “You’re freaking out.”

Crossing his arms, Jason tried his best to look completely and totally unaffected by everything ever as he said, “Am not.”

Apparently he was unconvincing, because Dick gave him a shit eating grin and ruffled his hair.

Like the asshole he was.

“You’re right. You’re the epitome of calm and collected.”

“Fuck you,” Jason snapped. Dick should mind his own fucking business.

They still weren’t, like, friends or anything, either. Dick had been clear about how happy he was Jason existed. Sure, they’d kind of made up some in recent months. And Dick even offered his blessing for Jason to be Robin, but that didn’t mean they were friends.

Apparently Dick didn’t agree, because he kept being an asshole and talking to him by saying, “Look, this isn’t going to change anything between you and Bruce, okay?”

Through a pout, Jason mumbled, “How would you know?” Bruce getting a son was going to change everything.

“Because this happened to me, remember?”

Jason rolled his eyes. Just because Bruce adopted him didn’t mean Dick knew what it was like to have his adopted dad get a biological child and not need him anymore. If anything, Dick should be freaking out, too, because they were both the adopted kids and the baby was the real son.

Except Dick didn’t live with them, so he wasn’t at risk of being homeless again if Bruce kicked him out. Since, well, Bruce couldn’t kick him out.

Maybe Dick should fuck off and leave him alone.

“Did Bruce adopting you change how he felt about me?” Dick asked, nudging Jason’s arm as he did.

Asshole.

“Fuck you, it’s different,” he snapped. In fact, they all knew Dick was the favorite child between the two of them, so it was completely and totally different.

Maybe Dick should be worrying more. He wasn’t going to be the favorite anymore.

Bruce was so happy about having a biological son he was crying about it.

Bruce had never been that happy about Jason.

“Not really,” Dick said, sighing some, “I thought he was writing me off completely when he adopted you.”

“Bruce never shuts up about you, it’s always ‘Dick this’ and ‘Dick that’ whenever I do anything, so shut up. But we’re both adopted, and that baby over there ain’t.”

Dick cocked a head at him and then let out a huff of a laugh. “Bruce never even told you. Wow.”

“Told me what?” Jason demanded, crossing his arms harder, because he didn’t want to storm off. Mostly because that would mean facing Bruce with his stupid new baby.

“I knew he was terrible with communication, but geez.”

What, Dickface, just tell me.”

“Jase,” Dick said, offering a softer smile than before, “I’m not adopted. Bruce never adopted me. He was simply my ‘guardian’ until I aged out of the system. He has no legal obligation to me at all, now.”

“He-“ Jason started, because there was no way that was true.

No. Fucking. Way.

Bruce cared about Dick way too much for that to be true.

And why would Bruce adopt him, but not Dick? That also made no sense.

Dick was the favorite.

“You’re lying. He calls you his son all the time.”

“I know,” Dick said softly, still smiling like an asshole, “Because even if he’s never said it, and probably never will say it, he loves me. Just like he loves you.”

“Shut up,” he said, because he couldn’t figure out anything else to say. Obviously he knew Bruce, like, loved him and shit. But they didn’t have to talk about it.

But… Dick was kind of right about one point. He was adopted.

It’s not like Bruce could go back on that.

So kicked out probably wasn’t on the table.

“I promise, Jason, this isn’t going to change anything between you two. So don’t worry too much.”

Jason was stuck trying to come up with something to respond with that was more witty than 'fuck you' when he was startled by Bruce’s footsteps approaching the cockpit.

If Bruce saw him pouting, there was no doubt he’d be able to read Jason as easily as Dick Fucking Grayson had read him, and that would not be good.

He wasn’t ready for that.

“Jason,” Bruce said, sounding like he was smiling wider than Jason had ever seen him smile.

Except.

Maybe.

On his adoption day. When Bruce hugged him and said ,“Welcome to the family, Jaylad,” with his stupid dopey smile…

And… and…

“Dick,” Bruce continued, now inside the cockpit, with the little baby in his arms, “I want you boys to meet your little brother, Damian.”

And maybe…

Maybe Dick was right.

Jason had nothing to worry about.

He’d always wanted a little brother, too.