Damian casually says, "I will be marrying Colin," over breakfast, and Bruce spits out his coffee.
"What?" he splutters, wondering if he's heard correctly, while Dick let's out a sound that's a mix between a coo and a squeal.
"Colin," Damian says calmly. "I will be marrying him."
For a moment, Bruce simply stares at his youngest son. He briefly juggles the idea that he may be joking, or playing some sort of game, but quickly dismisses this; it's Damian, and Damian doesn't joke, or play games. Ever.
"Why?" he asks at last, because it's the only thing he can think to say.
"Because," Damian says, taking a bite of muesli, "Colin needs to leave that wretched orphanage. You've refused to adopt him, no matter how many times I've insisted — "
"Damian, I can't just adopt every kid you meet — "
" — so the obvious solution is that I marry him. Then he can come to live with us, and you won't have to adopt him."
Damian sounds so certain, but Bruce can't help but notice how it just makes him seem more like the child he is. It makes the growing discomfort in his stomach increase, and it doesn't help that Dick is watching the proceedings with a gleeful look in his eyes.
"Or we can always move out. I'm old enough to live on my own."
"You're ten," Bruce says flatly.
"With a mind that is far older."
"You're ten," Bruce repeats. "And you aren't marrying anyone."
"Father!" Damian snaps furiously. "I must marry Colin! You're always telling me to socialise more!"
Bruce struggles to come up with an appropriate response, all the while struggling to believe that they were even having this conversation.
"Yes Damian, and while it is wonderful that you're making friends, marriage isn't an option!"
Bruce turns to his eldest son, and stares incredulously.
"What!" Dick says defensively. "He asked me to be his best man. How the hell was I supposed to turn that down?!"
Bruce's eyes narrow. "Dick…"
"He's just playing around!"
"This is Damian," Bruce says flatly. "He doesn't 'play around.'"
"I can hear you, Father," Damian points out, before taking another spoonful of his cereal. He chews calmly, swallows, and then continues. "I'm not playing around. This is Colin's life we are talking about. I will not rest until he has left that wretched orphanage!"
Bruce sighs. "Damian — does Colin have issues with the other children there?" Damian shook his head. "The nuns?"
"Of course not," Damian retorts, with some heat in his voice. "It's Colin. Everyone likes him."
"Aww!" Dick coos.
'Shut up, Dick,' Bruce thinks. Aloud, he says, "Has he expressed a desire to leave?"
Damian shifts. "No — but Father, that doesn't change anything! Colin needs a proper home, and I'll be able to provide him with that!"
Bruce bites back the urge to yell, "no! no you will not, young man, not until you're at least 30!" because that would not go down well with Damian. His son has a habit of doing the exact opposite of what he's told to do.
Instead, Bruce says (in his calmest, most reasonable voice, he's sure), "are you and Colin…dating?"
(He definitely does not wince at that last word).
Damian's eyes widen in disbelief. "What?! Of course not!" he almost snaps. "We don't need to be dating to get married!"
Bruce rubs his forehead. "And Colin — does he know of this plan?"
Damian rolls his eyes, as if the question is the most ridiculous thing he's ever heard. Bruce continues to stare at him, and Damian sighs, before nodding his head.
"Yes," he says. "He told me not to concern myself with it, and that he was fine where he was." Before Bruce can make any declarations of triumph (not that he would of course, he's talking to a ten year old boy after all…), Damian continues. "But Father, do you know what else he said? "You don't need to do that, but don't get the wrong idea — I'd love to marry you someday!"
Dick lets out the cooing/squealing noise again.
"See Father?" Damian says triumphantly. "Don't you detect the desperation in his voice?!"
"Dami, he obviously wants to date you!" Dick says, his eyes shining in classic Big-Brother-Dick-Grayson fashion — and dammit, this is breakfast, and it's early, and he does not want to be having this conversation right now. He tries to convey that to Dick through a series of sharp glares (that, come to think of it, probably resemble his usual expression anyway); just a little something to say, "stop talking, and stop making weird noises, so we can move on to something more pleasant, like the number of criminals we managed to catch last night…"
Dick doesn't get the idea.
"What?" Damian asks.
"He likes you!" Dick says, beaming.
"Don't be ridiculous," Damian scoffs. "Colin is my friend."
"Yes!" Bruce cuts in forcefully, before Dick can say anything else to make this situation worse than it already is. "He's your friend — so Damian, you should really go and explain to him — "
"…But you're right, Father — perhaps dating is a step in the right direction. And Lord knows, there are worse people I could attach myself to. Colin is strong, capable, and one of the few people I can tolerate."
"Yes." Damian gives a sharp nod, then stands, and heads towards the doorway.
"Where are you going?!" Bruce demands, barely able to bite back the "young man!" he'd been about to add to the end of that sentence.
Damian reaches the entrance-way, and turns around. "To tell Colin that we're dating," Damian says. "Perhaps that would also ease him into the idea of marriage…he's embarrassed about it now, but perhaps after, say, a month of dating, he will be more open to the idea."
He nods again, then turns, and leaves the room, while Bruce stares helplessly after him, wondering why he'd ever thought being a Father was a good idea.
"So cute!" Dick coos, reinforcing that sense of regret.
Bruce takes a sip of his coffee, which was now cold, and decides that he'll have to keep a closer eye on Colin.
(Also — why was it always the red-heads?)
Just a little story I wrote - I love protective daddy!bats haha.