I'm watching: Yowapeda, Sailor Moon and Revolutionary Girl Utena
I'm reading: Good Omens and Seraphina
Next up is Midnight Riot and the Lies of Locke Lamora
Basic Plot: Tim is highly protective of the Damian clones and he just wants to sleep, Jason has a silent giggle fit, Dick deals with the aftermath of a lot of things, and gets cuddles with the help of one little clone baby named Elpis. Elpis and Dick are very close.
Nearly everything I write lately ends with people cuddling on beds, and yeah Elpis is Greek for Hope, because he’s the personification of hope in one biting, stinky, drooling package.
Notes: This all takes place after Cass, Jason and Tim theoretically plunge Damian into a Lazarus pit. Warnings for mentions of death.
It looked cozy and comfortable, but mostly it just looked deadly. Tim’s arms were too firm on the babies, his brows too deeply drawn, he looked ready to pounce, though deeply asleep.
“Tim? Are you asleep?”
Not a hint otherwise came from the snoring lumps on the bed.
“Alright, you take the monster baby, and I’ll take the cute ones,” Jason’s tone was firm, and Dick got ready to cradle 22 pounds of toddler menace.
He only barely budged the child on Tim’s chest before Tim’s eyes jolted open, crazed and a bit bloodshot.
Jason snorted, and Dick froze, trying hard not to laugh.
“We’re… just… they need to get to bed,”
Oh great, Tim was going to be unreasonable.Everyone might as well forget peaceful means of extracting sleeping babies.
“Why, Dick?” Tim looked at Dick with near anguish, his eyes nearly shut in sleep.
Jason stopped his efforts to untangle babies from muscled and scarred arms, and backed off slowly, trying not to giggle. Dick knew Jason giggles, and he knew when Jason was holding them back. He’d spent too long forcing them out of him in the old days to think Jason was just snickering maliciously.
“You can’t take them,” Dick watched as Tim sat up and reached out, waggling his hands for the lump of sleepy chub now in Dick’s arms.
Dick tried to hold the baby out to Tim, and be done with that look of betrayal on his brother’s face, but Elpis wouldn’t let go of his neck.
Tim groaned and flopped back down, throwing an arm over his eyes like he had done so often whenever Damian got to be too much.
“You stole him,” then a pause, drawn out and heavy, “Is it the Damian one? The one that bites?”
“You’ve been babysitting all day, just rest, and yeah, I took Elpis,”
“I was resting, thank you for your concern” Tim huffed, “You can take him, but diapers,”
“You idiot I just said—”
“No no, nevermind, I get it,” He didn’t get it, but Dick winced, because Tim was angry with him and that always felt horrible and kind of scary.
“You need to find Damian,” Tim looked up at him beneath his dramatically splayed arm, suddenly calm, “I think the brats are taking their toll on him, we just got him back, I don’t need him throwing himself from a roof,”
“He’s gone to bed,”
Tim groaned and rolled over, deftly maneuvering the sleeping lump on his chest to roll over with him, and enveloping the second closer into his body.
“Fine, the monsters Elpis and Damian can be your responsibility, I’ll take these two angels,”
“Just sleep, you ass,”
Tim sniggered and seemed to drop off at once, his breathing becoming light and unlabored.
Jason kept wheezing his silenced giggles, but Dick ignored that.
Dick lifted Elpis higher up on his chest, and cuddled him close, deciding that they’d sleep in the same bed tonight, so he carried the drooling mess of warmth to his own room instead of Bruce’s (where the giant crib was). He was expecting to sleep and cuddle and wake up with his ear bleeding, as usual.
It was tradition, by now, and he didn’t mind, because this ear-biting, yowling mess of a child was all he had for a long time after… Damian. He never forgot it, and apparently neither did his sweet, angry Damian clone.
It wasn’t long before Elpis began to look out for him, to want Dick, and no other substitute. He even shunned Bruce if Dick was in the room, and Dick would be lying through his teeth if he said that that didn’t make him viciously happy. The dark days after Damian’s death became less like swallowing broken glass, and more like healing.
It probably wasn’t normal, to rely so much on a baby for love and comfort, in order to feel wanted and not alone. But it helped him unimaginably after Damian died and Tim, Cass and Jason disappeared.
He hadn’t known then, he was too blinded, but it hurt nonetheless. He thought it was his fault, that he had finally driven them away, and poured his heart and soul into the three baby boys.
Elpis had just kind of… poured his soul right back.
Abandoned (so he thought), he had clung to those children, and Elpis had clung back.
It was the reason he hadn’t run away to another city, so that he could go on walking into whatever room the brats were in, and watch as they noticed him. It was like Elpis and his two beloved brothers were Dick’s giggling, hissing, sobbing, and stinking catharsis, and somehow it helped.
Tim struggled to detach the baby from his finger and actually open his eyes, and ignored Jason as he came down from his ridiculous fit.
“I think it’s safe to assume that things are ok now,” Tim rubbed at his eyes, frustrated that he couldn’t get words out to describe this.
“I don’t mean like, entirely, but he smiled,”
“At Elpis,” Jason’s voice was strained and a bit wavering from laughter, and Tim just wanted to go back to sleep.
“Go check on him,” Tim went back to petting soft baby hair, thinking maybe he’d kiss their cheeks as soon as he was motivated enough to move.
“I’m going, I’m going,”
Jason left Tim with his babybrat demons, which had probably already sworn allegiance to him by oath of blood or something (friendly-ish though they were, in comparison to other demon brats) and went to find brother number one.
Dick found Damian sound asleep in his bed, in an oversized sweater and ridiculous socks, and wanted to turn and run. This was also tradition by now, though no one ever spoke of it.
Dick went over to the bed and sat beside him, silently watching him. Damian still had pit shadows beneath his eyes, the way that Tim and Jason still had burn marks on their hands, and Dick wanted to curl up with Elpis, and ignore the entire world. Nothing was fair.
He hesitated only a little before placing Elpis on the pillow by his brother, and felt warmth and relief in his chest when the child clung to him and refused to let go of his arms.
“Damian!” He forced cheer into his voice, and tried not to watch the now sharp and angled cheekbones, jutting out with months of being gone and malnourished.
“Get the demon away from me, he bites,”
“But he loves me,”
That wasn’t what Dick had wanted to say, so he tried to cover it up.
“Look, he’s clinging and being cute and sweet, not like the rest of you jerks,”
Damian propped himself up on his elbow, and watched Dick closely.
“He bites you till you bleed,”
“He’s only a year old, he doesn’t know proper etiquette,”
“Oh, so he forgets to say grace?”
Dick winced at the familiar sarcasm, and tried to come up with a good joke.
Elpis tugged at his hair.
Damian moved over and raised his eyebrows, and Dick took the hint, and lay down with his back to Damian’s chest.
Breathing. Small and narrow with youth, with an echo of a wheeze in each inhale; but he was alive and breathing.
He could feel Damian’s heartbeat.
Elpis snuggled into Dick’s neck with a soft sighing sound, and Dick tracked the tiny flickering of eyelashes on his neck, mixed with Damian’s still shaky breaths on his back.
Dick fell asleep, being held by and holding in his arms proof that his heart was put back together.
Jason will peek into the room, and meet the ice blue eyes of his estranged brother. They’ll gaze at each other, only a bit coldly, and Damian will sigh in defeat.
"Goodnight," he’ll say, a bit snidely.
and Jason will say in return:
"Go the hell to sleep you brat, you’re scaring me,"
He’ll watch Dick closely, make sure he’s asleep, and feel only a bit jealous of Damian and Elpis. He’ll debate going inside, decide against it, and turn to leave.
He’ll turn to see Cass, who’ll kick him out of the way with a smirk, and she’ll go join her brothers on Dick’s bed. She’ll kiss Dick’s temple, stroke his hair, and smack Damian until he moves over, and then take her place beside him. Cass will watch Jason until he makes his move.
When Bruce comes in to check on them later, he’ll see that Jason pulled up a chair to sleep in, with his feet on the bed and his socks dirty on the pristine white covers, and that Tim has joined them with his dynamic duo of drooling-baby throw pillows.
Bruce’ll breathe easy and leave, keeping Dick’s bedroom door open for any of Damian’s pets. He deftly steps over a black and white cat, and tries not to feel too touched when he finds Titus waiting for him in his room.
He thinks that he can let himself get used to this.