The familiar burn of eyes on his back brought Dick out of his work, forced his senses into the here and now rather than stuck so firmly in the midst of the incidents he was working on for Bruce. He didn't respond to it, already knowing who it was - knowing by the lack of sound in the room as much as anything else. Only one member of their family was that deadly silent and as much as any of them hated to admit they couldn't compete with it, they all knew not to listen for something, but instead for nothing when it came to Damian.
For now, Dick simply kept reading the case file he was on, letting Damian watch him. It wasn't the first time today and it surely wasn't the first day it'd been happening either. In fact, he'd been noticing it more and more over the past few months; the steady incline of Damian watching him and then disappearing without a word. And he wondered about it, just the same as he did nearly anything else that was both unexplained and repeatedly occurring.
Closing his eyes, Dick reached to pinch the bridge of his nose, his other hand shutting the laptop. He was so done with this case and so very ready for a break anyway. "I know you're there." His voice was quiet, built to encourage a certain trust rather than scare Damian off, knowing just what tone he needed to accept that he should come to Dick instead of sliding off into the shadows of the Manor again.
Damian appeared at his side in a way that should have been startling if anyone else had been confronted with it. But for Dick, it was nothing out of the normal for him and Damian. He knew all those months they'd been together - out on patrol side-by-side as Damian developed his skills, had brought him closer to him than any other member of the family. And he'd learned to understand where Damian was going with things as much as Damian knew Dick's next move as if it were his own. Because Damian had been right when he'd said they'd been damn good together: the best. With as much as he and Bruce had worked in complete tandem, it was Damian who could predict three moves ahead what Dick was going to do and just be where he needed to be. He'd be lying if he said he didn't miss it.
A laptop clunked down beside his own and Damian folded his arms across his chest. "As much as I loathe to ask this of you. I need a favor."
Arching his eyebrow, Dick stared down at the laptop for a moment and then cleared his throat. "What's wrong with it?"
Damian slid smoothly into the seat beside Dick, one arm resting on the tabletop, the other across the back of the chair he now sat sideways on. "Nothing's wrong per say... it just requires modification."
Dick sat back, watching Damian from the side of his vision rather than full-on, knowing how little Damian liked to be confronted when he was asking for something. Instead, he looked like he was staring at the laptop, considering. "What sort of modification?" And what sort would Damian not be able to do for himself? That was the real question. After all, his skills were as good as Dick's own, if not slightly more honed toward the newer set of technology within the house. But this... this was also his personal laptop, not one of the ones they used for cases, but one Damian probably used for his degree program and whatever else he had to do on a personal level. Probably loads of art software, Dick mused, debating what he'd find if he saw the inside of this thing's hard drive - mostly because stopping himself from thinking of it was fairly pointless and a lesson he'd learned long ago.
"The sort Father should not know of." Damian turned then, settling both arms on the table and gazing off across the room rather than even allowing Dick to see his face.
Dick finally glanced at him, pursing his lips for a moment and then easing back on it, softening the look and breathing out a sigh. "What kind of trouble are you looking for this time?"
He watched the shift of Damian's body, the way he tensed slightly and then the way his hand clenched against the table for a mere second before releasing. When Damian spoke again, his voice was ever so faintly strained. "The illegal sort."
Dick couldn't stop himself from staring at Damian's back like he'd lost his damn mind. "Dami... if you're looking for illegal things, don't you think it should be confined to the computers no one else has access to but those of us in the know? I mean... we have whole directories on how to make-" He didn't get any further, Damian cutting him off, his voice sharp now.
"That's not the kind of thing I'm talking about!" Dick watched in some amount of fascination as Damian almost seemed to shrink in on himself after the outburst before he muttered out, "The kind of thing that's only illegal to those my age."
For a moment, Dick mulled it over and then it went off like a lightbulb in his brain and he almost didn't stop himself from laughing, but he caught it right before it bubbled out and he leaned forward on his forearms, staring down at the laptop. Okay, well at least his nervousness made some amount of sense now. But it seemed like it was awful late in his age range for this sort of thing to be cropping up now. After all, seventeen was far beyond the age he should have already been experimenting with all of this and- ... and Dick felt a surge of regret at that. Either something had stunted him enough that he wasn't coming into himself until now or else he'd been repressing it and was finally letting it out... which would be more like failure in Damian's eyes, he was sure. "You know... encrypted VPNs and all that jazz are more Tim's side of things if you want to keep Bruce out of it. But I also think he'd notice, you know? Want to know what was being hidden and why and snoop even more than he would have before and we both know there's not really any encryption for a hard drive that will hold up against the mainframe."
He settled back in the chair, folding his arms over his chest and mulling over his options before making one and offering it before he could back out. "But if I brought you some of what you're looking for instead, then... he wouldn't ever think anything of... well, anything. Because there'd be no downloading and no encryption for him to break. I mean... I know that might be more awkward at first, but it's-"
"-a viable option," Damian finished, now slumped over the table, his head bowed just enough that Dick knew he'd been right on the money with the second part of his thought process. He reached out, running a hand lightly up Damian's back, feeling him tense under the touch and then relax just the slightest. "I'm going to fathom a guess here and if I'm wrong, I'm wrong... but if you're blaming yourself right now for not being able to," he paused, looking for the right words, "hold back from what you want... you shouldn't be. We all have desires and there's no shame in that."
Damian huffed out a humorless laugh before he stood up, reaching for his laptop, which Dick placed his hand on, holding it in place as he looked up into Damian's face, intentionally confronting him now, finding the pain and fear laced there. And he knew better than to push right now, to ask any of the questions he had. And when Damian finally spoke, he could feel his heart clenching in his chest for him. "Some desires are worse than others, Grayson."
Just like that, Damian was gone and Dick was left with his laptop beneath his palm and a job to do that could be any frame of awkward, depending on what happened with what he gave him to watch.
Hours later, Dick sat in his own apartment, sorting through an external drive of all the porn he'd stashed away over the years, trying to toss it all into folders that made some semblance of sense. His own laptop was currently downloading about twenty more videos in a variety of subject matters and kinks, Damian's words still resonating with him. Because nothing in the world had prepared him for those words or for the fact that he was currently downloading pornography with the intent to distribute to a minor. Damian was right technically that it was illegal for him to purchase it or watch it off of a website. But it wasn't really illegal once he had it to watch it, which then left Dick as the peddler of said material and basically nothing had ever let him think he'd be in this position in his life.
Wetting his lips, he shifted in his seat, honestly tired of seeing all this porn now that he'd opened somewhere around the hundredth video of the ones he didn't watch often enough to recall where they should go and making some snap decision on what folder it should be pitched into. Honestly, he was starting to realize just how many things he had that he never watched and also how many types of porn he'd been into over the years. And to know that even that hadn't covered all the bases... it was sort of astounding.
He shoved the last three videos into a folder marked with only GA and started to drag the newly downloaded videos over, creating the appropriate folders for them and shoving them into them. And he'd gone all out on the kinks, too. No holds barred. Because far be it for him to make any assumptions as to what some desires are worse than others meant when it came to Damian. He'd downloaded the most vanilla things all the way up to the kinkiest shit he could imagine, even having to look up a few laws to make sure Gotham hadn't outlawed a few of them, and then shoved that lot into the DEEPER folder. He disconnected the drive from his computer and plugged it into Damian's own, scooting over to it and bringing up the hidden directory and starting the transfer of files into it.
Standing up, he gave it a final glance and then shut his own system off and padded off toward the bedroom. It'd been a long day after patrol and all and he'd stayed up to do this and hell if he wasn't utterly exhausted.
It was almost three months after dropping off the laptop before Dick heard anything from Damian again and, by then, it was utterly unexpected, given Damian was verging on his eighteenth birthday and Dick had figured he'd given him enough to tide him over until he could get it on his own.
But Damian sitting in his living room when he came home from patrol was certainly one for the record books, given he'd honestly never come home to this particular family member in his house. Jason, riddled with bullets? Check. Tim, needing to escape his life and live in Dick's for a while? Check. Cass when she'd needed a place to crash. Even Bruce, sullen and alone... but never Damian.
He made his round, dropping off his suit and equipment, took the fastest shower he had in eons, and then made his way back to his couch, settling down, towel still draped over his shoulders and med kit on his lap as he pulled out the stuff to disinfect a few cuts on his arm. What surprised him more were Damian's hands on him, the insistent pressure of his touch until Dick yielded to him and let him start to clean his wounds.
When the words came, they were quiet and utterly out of nowhere, catching Dick off-guard in a million ways. "I didn't know how to ask at the time, but since you... included it." Damian's fingers were gentle as he spread disinfectant gel over the biggest of the wounds, massaging it in even though it made Dick wince. A deep breath and then, "I think you should know there were only three videos relevant to my interest in the lot of them."
Dick watched Damian, watched the way he kept his eyes focused on what he was doing, his fingers never stopping their movement over his skin. It seemed like forever and then he was finally wiping his hands and reaching for the bandages. He seemed at ease, but it was entirely possible it was false bravado that kept him in place like this. But it was also possible he just trusted Dick that much, to reveal some part of himself in this manner, and Dick wasn't about to ruin it with his own words, because he knew if he waited him out, he'd spill.
The butterfly tape went over one wound and the bandage was wrapped around the bigger one, tucked in and taped off in a matter of seconds, showing just how much practice Damian probably had piecing Bruce back together in the field.
"They were in the GA folder. I..." he paused, his hand resting on Dick's bandage still, his lower lip disappearing into his mouth for a moment before he closed his eyes and tilted his head back. "I do not think I need to say more than that, do I?"
Dick let a small smile slip over his lips and he reached to gently cup Damian's cheek, watching the way he pressed toward it, the way he reacted anything but innocent and it was almost abrupt how quickly Dick understood. Damian wasn't just into guys... he was into him and that was why he'd made the comment he had, why he'd seemed so out of sorts about it and why he'd looked so completely forlorn to be admitting it.
"Don't..." Damian reached to cup Dick's hand with both of his own, turning his face and pressing his lips against his fingertips, turning away a second later, letting his hand drop and hunching over, his elbows on his knees as he stared at the coffee table in front of him. "I can see that you understand and that is all I wanted. I only needed you to know."
He moved to stand up, getting as far as a single step before Dick reacted. It was quick, faster than he'd been in a while when outside of his Nightwing costume and maybe a bit faster than he was in it at times. Snagging Damian's shirt, he tugged him back down and braced him back with one arm against the couch. It wasn't even hard to get free of it, but he wanted to make a point without traumatizing him the way Bruce had accomplished with him years ago in what was rapidly proving to be a very similar sort of situation. Only... Bruce hadn't understood. He hadn't comprehended what Dick was trying to tell him and the result had been... well, Dick had left and for a long time, he'd turned his back, sorting through his own shit before he would even give Bruce the time of day again. Or, perhaps, time of night was more accurate as to what he'd actually given Bruce in the end. Only his services as Nightwing and never again that fragile piece of himself that was so desperate to let Bruce know how he'd felt all those years ago - and, if he was honest, how he still did.
Damian didn't fight it, didn't do anything but set his jaw and avoid Dick's eyes. Breathing out a quiet little sigh, Dick eased back on him. "Don't go running off... we're far from done here. Trust me on that one." He sat back, pulling his legs up and crossing them, leaning forward and quickly drying the rest of his hair before settling the towel back around his shoulders and swallowing past the lump in his throat. He had an obligation here to handle this better than Bruce had, to not start with lectures or bullshit and certainly not to make him feel as belittled as Dick had felt that night. And he knew now that Bruce hadn't meant to come across like that, that his words hadn't been enough to really let Bruce know what he was actually feeling. His own had been fumbling, half-sentences that tumbled over one another and left even his own mind in confused, twisted little knots. So it was no small wonder Bruce hadn't understood a thing he was trying to say. But Damian... he'd spit it out pretty damn clear - or at least clear enough Dick could get it.
He watched as Damian pushed off his shoes and drew his knees up, sliding his arms around them and his heart ached, seeing how fragile he was in this moment. This was his Robin, the kid that had kicked more ass in is lifetime than most people could even fathom, and here he was, looking for all the world scared of what was coming. He could see it radiating in his posture and in his breath, the intake and output far too rapid to be good.
"I understand more than you think I do... and the last thing I will ever do is hurt you the way I was."
Damian turned his head then, cheek pressed to his knees, jade-green eyes watchful for the longest time before he breathed out, "Bruce?" At Dick's nod, Damian turned away again, giving a satisfied little sound and then pushing his chin back against his knees.
"You can say it... I promise you I'm not going to condemn you for it. I get it. At least to some degree, I have to after all we've been through together. It's sort of like life's cruel joke, isn't it, that-"
"That I would find myself thinking of no one other than you?" Damian's voice was muffled against his legs, but it didn't make his words have any less impact. They hit Dick with full-force and he stopped, realizing that hearing it was a whole other thing than knowing the implications of it. He reached out, gently laying a hand on Damian's knee and squeezing before he pulled his hand back.
Wetting his lips, he watched Damian, watched how quickly he seemed to be retreating in on himself and he knew he had to do something, say something of use before he lost Damian the same way Bruce had lost him all those years ago. His heart thudded in his chest, the rush of his blood evident in his ears and he knew this feeling all too well. Holding out one hand to Damian, he breathed out a quiet, "Please..."
For a moment, he thought he'd be turned down, that Damian would perhaps get right up and walk out of the house the way Dick had walked out of the Manor all those years ago. And his heart ached at the idea of it. Realizations piled up in his mind even as he tried to deny them; even as he tried to tell himself he would play the responsible adult in this situation... he damn well knew he wouldn't. If Damian so much as did a single thing, no force in the world was going to stop him from responding, stop him from giving Damian everything he wanted.
But Damian's hand slid into his own and Dick interlocked their fingers, letting them rest on his thigh, studying the fact that Damian's hand wasn't any smaller than his own now. He'd grown up a hell of a lot and in a lot of ways he'd been basically an adult for a long, long time. His fingers tightened and Damian's returned the gesture, the pair of them simply sitting in silence for a long time before Damian finally offered up his words, the sound of them nearly strangled, as if he were having to force them up past all the resistance in the world. "It is... deeper than I can explain. It is why I trusted you when I could resist no more... and why I end up here even when you do not know."
Dick could feel the concern that showed on his face, knew the way his chest tightened had more to do with the fear of what could drive Damian out of Bruce's house and into his own enough times it was even worth mentioning, and when their eyes met, he knew Damian was about to tell him more than he ever had.
"When the nightmares become too much to bear on my own, I come here. And when I feel like I may tell you too much if I see you awake, I come and tell you in the dark." He looked away, shame written over his features now. "I've told you a hundred times what I tell you now. Always just quietly enough you will not wake and always when you are alone."
Lifting Damian's hand, Dick pressed his lips to his knuckles, kissing them hard before he let their hands drop back down against his thigh again. "You don't have to hide any of it from me anymore. Not ever again, okay?"
"-tt-" Damian pulled his hand away and tucked it back around his legs. "If you knew even a fraction of it, you would never want to look at me again."
"There's nothing you could ever tell me that would make me not want to see you again. You could tell me in all seriousness that you wished me dead and it wouldn't make me turn my back on you." Dick moved then, tucking one leg under himself and the other foot on the floor, settling back on his foot and reaching out to slide his hand through Damian's hair. "It's impossible for me to."
Damian's words were fragile again when he spoke, less strained but more vulnerable. "Even if I acted on the things I desire?"
Dick shifted back against the couch's arm, his foot mostly untucked now, and regarded Damian for a moment before letting his own admission tinge the air. "I wouldn't stop you." A certain amount of shame came with the words, knowing he should push him away if he tried anything, knowing even though it was less than a month, it was still just this side of legal depending on where they were... and all the while knowing that here - in his home - it wasn't illegal, though it certainly would be within the Manor. And it struck him that maybe Damian had chosen his venue ever so purposely.
Their eyes met and he watched the tiny ghost of a smile slide onto Damian's lips before he whispered, "Bingo." And just like that, he was unfolding himself, easing himself onto Dick's lap, his hands pressing lightly on his shoulders and then-
Then it was all Damian's lips on his own; his tongue prompting entrance into his mouth. Dick didn't even try to stop the way he reacted to it, didn't bother to hold back in the way he kissed Damian like he could draw the very breath from his lungs if only he tried hard enough. It took him a minute to even realize that he'd slid his hands up under Damian's shirt, that his palms gently cradled the age-old scar all the way down his spine... or that his hips were already rocking against Damian's own as he moved over him. He could feel the seep of Damian's heat into his very bones and he could feel the way Damian was clearly at war with himself over what he wanted from this.
Drawing their kiss apart, despite the slightly panicked protesting sound Damian gave, Dick breathed out, "It's okay, I'm not going anywhere. Take a second, okay?" He let his knuckles ghost over Damian's cheek, watched as his wild eyes calmed just the slightest, listened as he caught his breath. He slid off of his lap then, holding out his hand, a determined look on his face, and Dick took his hand with a smile, letting Damian lead him down the hall into his bedroom.
The door slid shut, sending them into nearly pitch blackness, and he could nearly hear the relief in Damian's voice now that he was cloaked in darkness. "I want everything... and I do not want you to hold back." The bed springs let him know Damian was sliding into bed and he let his towel drop and then - after only a few seconds hesitation - he pushed his sleep pants off as well.
Dick sifted onto the bed with Damian, rolling onto his side and reaching out, finding only skin beneath his fingertips, even as his hand traveled down over Damian's hip to his thigh. There was nothing between them, nothing stopping them from feeling one another... and the lust came down hard and fast over Dick in that instant, his cock hardening even more at the idea of it. His hand caught Damian behind the thigh and he dragged him closer, right into his arms, and then rolled them so that he was between his legs, hovering over Damian as his free hand explored his body. His fingertips caught a nipple, tweaked it and then proceeded, leaving Damian squirming under him. His hand came to lightly grasp at Damian's cock, stroking him languidly, feeling him buck up against his touch, feeling the barely restrained wildness of his reactions... none of them actions anymore. And he knew then; he'd be the first to give this to Damian and for himself, he'd have such a fragile and gorgeous gift.
Leaning down, he caught Damian's mouth with his own again, kissing him deeply as he stroked, his touch growing firmer and his hand faster. Damian arched up beneath him, actually letting out the quietest of whimpers into their kiss, and then his hand was on Dick's wrist, squeezing hard and he knew he was about to lose it. Breaking off the kiss, he slid down his body, easing Damian's length into his mouth, keeping his rhythm as he added the light flick of his tongue to the mix and within seconds Damian was arching hard off the bed, a sharp gasping cry of Dick's name leaving his lips... and hell if it wasn't the best thing Dick had ever heard in his life.
He kept his mouth over him until he was finished, until he couldn't have gotten another drop from him and only then did he move. He shifted over Damian again, reaching behind him and grabbing the lube from the headboard shelf, pouring it over his own cock. He drew back then, helping Damian roll over and tugging him up onto his knees. Only then did he slide his cock along the cleft of Damian's magnificent ass, sliding it against him again and again, arousal causing him to throb as he moved. Spreading his legs for better leverage, he placed one hand against the top of his cock and began to thrust, creating the place he needed to be able to thrust into like this. "Damian," he breathed out, nearly moaning his name as he pushed against him again and again.
"You're... holding back," Damian managed to get out, Dick only hearing him because of how otherwise silent the room was.
"You might think I am, but if you knew which of those videos came off of my computer, you'd know... I'm not." Dick leaned over Damian then, curling one arm around him and relying on him for stability as he began to move faster, his other hand clutching his hip as he thrust against him, hips jerking hard and quick. His heart pounded in his chest and his arousal began to skyrocket as he gave in to something he'd wanted to do for a very long time and had never actually done.
Gasping, he started to cum and he pitched his hips forward, rutting harshly forward as he lost it all over Damian's lower back, his cock still pressed between his asscheeks, twitching against his sensitive hole. Damian's strangled moan let him know everything else he needed to and he slid his hand down from his hip, sliding it over his neglected cock, stroking him lose but quick while Damian rubbed himself back against his still-hard length. "F-feels," Damian managed to get out before he was groaning, falling apart under Dick for the second time, and this time Dick let him cum in his hand, cupping it and taking it all until Damian was empty.
Easing back, Dick reached over the side of the bed for his towel, using it to do a quick cursory clean of both of them before he settled back. "C'mere... this part is a no-argument portion because Dick Grayson doesn't do sex without a minimum of five minutes me-time afterward."
Damian's little huff of a laugh was like music to his ears and even as he settled against him, he honestly couldn't bring himself to regret a single thing. He pushed one hand up into Damian's hair, closing his eyes. "Don't be gone in the morning..."
"He has no idea where I am."
Dick reached behind his head, pulling his cell phone down and hitting the voice command. "Text Bruce - Damian is with me and yes, he is fine. Goodnight." He listened as it repeated the message back an asked if he wanted to send and he breathed out, "Yes," before tossing the phone back onto the shelf behind him. "Problem solved."
Damian eased back against him again and he could hear him trying to stifle a yawn. He tugged the sheet up and over them, closing his eyes and murmuring, "Just let sleep happen..." even as he was already giving in to his own.