Welcome back! Sorry, this chapter is a little late, but I think you'll understand why as you read it. For those of you who didn't notice the word count when you clicked on it, this Part is massive! I struggled over the last couple of days because I was worried that it was too much, and that I needed to split it up into a couple of chapters, but no matter what I tried, it didn't feel right to make you guys stop in the middle of it to hit the "Next Chapter" button. I think there are plenty of places you could leave off and pick the piece back up later for your convenience, though—so don't feel like you have to read all of it at once!
We're picking up the story approximately four months after Part Two. I largely reverted to fluff and family bonding for this Part as I continued to expand the universe, and this is the first JayDick centric chapter—woo! TimKon make lots of appearances, though, and there is important superbaby information about two-thirds of the way through. As always, thank you guys so much for taking the time to read this, and feedback is always appreciated!
The Grounds of the Manor were perfect.
The grass was green and trimmed evenly over the rolling hills; the trees and the bushes were preened perfectly under the watchful eye of Alfred; the water fountains bubbled happily like they themselves were the powerhouses behind it all…
It was perfect. Truly, completely, perfect.
…Or at least that was how it had been in Dick's mind when he'd planned the wedding out.
In reality, the Grounds were the farthest thing.
The grass was withering and singed, and the hills didn't roll smoothly so much as they bumped and chugged along like broken down cars from the old cartoons that Dick used to watch as a kid. The trees and bushes along the house and the back of the property were charred and missing giant clumps of leaves and branches—that was, if they were still standing at all—and two of the water fountains out front were reduced to rubble and the other three were dry from where the piping had been damaged. The small part of Dick that had spent the previous six months planning was saddened by the imperfections that soiled how beautiful the day could have been, but the rest of him was just glad that everybody had made it through the battle alive and had been well enough that Jason and Dick were still able to go through with the wedding at all.
Even more than that, however—Dick felt bad for Alfred. The Manor had been close to that picturesque state of perfection only days prior, mostly due to the butler's efforts, and almost all of his work had been for naught.
Dick couldn't have imaged not going through with their plans, though, once Alfred had been able to confirm that the food and the tents would still be delivered on time; and Jason had been down right offended when Bruce and Tim had mentioned pushing the day off until after Alfred and Conner had rebuilt and re-landscaped. The rented tent still stood where Dick and Steph had planned to serve dinner and set up a dance floor; the little clearing Jason and Dick were planning to say their vows in was mostly undamaged by the blasts that had been thrown at it just days before (some close enough to be counted in hours rather than days); and there were enough hotel rooms open in the city to make-up for the spare rooms that had been lost when the west wing of the Manor had exploded. To Jason there wasn't a problem, and Dick found himself agreeing with Jason the more time that passed.
It had still taken a lot of work. Wreckage had to be moved. Fires had to be put out, both literally and figuratively. Heroes had been injured in the fight even though none of them had been killed. And, there were all of the regular preparations for a wedding that had to be attended to, as well—like last minute fittings and making sure all of the still standing guest rooms in the Manor were stocked for the out of town guests that couldn't stay in hotels. It was a lot of labor, and the pack had been working tirelessly trying to get everything done in time (except Tim, who Alfred and Conner were anxiously trying to keep confined to Tim and Conner's bedroom), but Dick felt like all of their struggles had just made it all the more rewarding when he stepped out the backdoor of the Manor and surveyed the fruits of their effort before himself.
It was beautiful—truly beautiful, in spite of all of the imperfections muddling the edges—with the way that that the land still thrived and bubbled with life, and Dick couldn't help but muse at how fitting of a metaphor it was for his and Jason's lives as he took in a deep breath of the singed, but still pleasant and all-too-familiar smelling air.
"Are you finished getting ready now, Master Grayson?" an elderly voice pulled Dick out of his head from off to his left, and Dick turned to look down at the closest thing he'd ever had to a grandfather.
"Yeah, Alf," Dick felt the corners of his lips pull up into a big smile as he met Alfred's eyes excitedly. He wasn't nervous—never nervous to go anywhere his Little Wing was waiting for him—but a certain type of energy Dick couldn't exactly name buzzed underneath of Dick's skin and pulled him towards the path leading down to the rows of chairs separating him from the alter, and that was kind of weird…but also kind of nice. "Do I look okay?"
The notions of fresh flowers and food cooking back in the kitchen behind them undercut the smell of burning ozone that lingered on everything in the aliens' wake, and Dick found them just as oddly comforting as he found the rest of it.
"You look fine," Damian drawled from behind Dick, before Alfred had the chance to give Dick a proper answer, and Dick turned around in just enough time to catch the tail end of Damian rolling his eyes as Lian bounced and jabbered away in his arms.
Dick and Jason hadn't meant for there to be a flower girl at their wedding, and there wasn't a ring bearer in sight, but Roy had brought Lian along when he and Jason had gone to get their suits fitted at the combination bridal/haberdashery shop for the ceremony. Understandably, all of the ribbon and tulle had excited the six year old, and Roy had let her try on a couple of the dresses with the shop attendants and Ollie to keep her entertained while the rest of the adults involved tried on their suits, and—well—the fact that they had come home with one of them wasn't really all that big of a problem for anyone. Roy had sworn up and down that he would pay Jason back for it after he'd gotten his paycheck from the shop in the bank, but Jason had shrugged him off, and Dick had shredded the multitude of checks that had come in the mail in the following months, until Roy had finally just given up and scheduled an appointment for both he and Lian to get their nails done a couple of days before the ceremony (and then desperately tried to avoid chipping them while he moved heavy things around with Jason and punched hostile invading aliens in the face).
As for how the rest of the wedding part went, it was certainly small. Dick and Jason had gone a couple of rounds as to who all should be in the wedding and how they were going to balance everything out, but eventually they had come to agree that there wasn't a way to make everybody happy. They'd settled on a single, non-familial best man for each of them after that, and Dick had chosen Wally while Jason had gone with Roy. There hadn't been a contest once they'd decided on their parameters—Jason and Dick had both known immediately who they, and the other, would pick—and while it was true they'd all had their arguments and fights over the years, Wally had always been there for Dick when he needed it, and Roy had always done the same for Jason, and that was what mattered.
Wally wasn't walking down the aisle with Dick—he'd been too busy fulfilling his other duty of usher, and had just stayed up at the altar with Jason and Roy—but Lian was, and Dick was perfectly okay with that. For as much as she loved Jason and looked to him as a second father figure of sorts, she was important to Dick, too, and Dick didn't mind sharing the spot light with her.
Damian, for his part, hadn't been given a job. Dick had fruitlessly attempted to keep Tim from doing too much in regards to the day of the wedding by not giving either one of his brothers or Kon anything to do, but that plan had fallen apart long before Dick even got the chance to really implement it, so Damian had been recruited as Lian's handler while Roy ran around trying to compensate for the lack of help. Initially, the 'handler' thing had just been a one-time joke between Dick and Roy, but Lian had overheard and Damian had twisted it into a game that she loved, so everybody else had just gone with it. Damian was good with kids, and Lian had just enough of her mother in her to not be bothered by Damian's protective glares and the slight aloofness he showed towards people he didn't feel comfortable with. It hadn't taken long after Roy had introduced the of them for a bond of sorts to form, and while Damian couldn't babysit Lian while Roy was on duty because he was typically on patrol himself, Damian had made a killing babysitting her over the weekends so that Roy could pull extra shifts at the shop.
Roy had made sure to check in from time to time with the pair in between running errands for the two grooms as the rest of the house tried to get all of the seats and the decorations set up, and Lian had insisted that he do her hair, but other than that, Lian had mostly clung to Damian's neck and shoulders and watched contentedly as Damian did whatever menial labor/cleaning/decorating he could get away with when Tim wasn't looking.
"Yes, Master Dick," Alfred cut back into the conversation with a sigh and a roll of his eyes at Damian's theatrics and the quip he undoubtedly knew Dick had dangling on the end of his tongue. "You look more than okay—quite dashing, if you would allow me to be so bold."
"I would," Dick grinned again—Damian's Damian-ness completely forgotten as Alfred directed his attention back to what was actually important—and for as generally well dressed as Dick knew he was (at least when Dick knew he was going to be in public or around people that exceeded his family or his pack), Dick appreciated the compliment. Steph had made him try on just about a thousand different suits the day they'd gone shopping for Dick's half of the wedding party, and it was only after over two hours of 'modeling' and nothing being good enough that Dick had finally put his foot down and said no more. Dick then took his top three favorites and told Steph that she could give her recommendation for which one she liked best, but beyond that, Dick would decide which one he would wear based on which looked best with whatever Jason chose. Jason and Roy had managed to go about a week later with only Tim and Kon tagging along to try on their own suits (and Bruce and Ollie for company and second opinions), and it had been Tim who had made the final decision about who would wear what, with the haberdasher making suggestions based on what he'd remembered from Dick and Wally's visit with Damian, Bruce, Cass, and Steph.
Tim was surprisingly good with clothes, though—possessing a good eye for mixing popular with unique, and having the outcome be something that fit the wearer's personal style without making them stand out like a sore thumb that Dick kind of envied—so, Dick hadn't worried about how all of the men were going to look standing by each other once.
Dick, himself, was wearing a dark gray suit, and the color complemented his frame well, while the crisp white shirt set off his naturally tan skin and bright eyes, and the blue tie around his neck contrasted against his dark hair beautifully. Jason had passed along the message that Tim had chosen a black suit with red accents for himself, and Roy had been dressed in a red dress shirt and patterned vest to match. Wally—for his part as Dick's best man—was in pants just a shade or two lighter than Dick's, and donned a soft yellow tie. Wally was in a white shirt, as well, but he had forgone his jacket with Roy, and all four of them had boutonnieres too match their respective ties pinned to their lapels or their vests.
The rest of the boys in the family were similarly dressed, although some of the guests that Dick had seen were more traditionally dressed in respect to their own cultures.
Damian was in a three-piece, plain black suit, with a white shirt underneath and a green tie that matched the accents of his Robin suit. All four of the Robins had cufflinks with the 'R' symbol engraved into them; but as far as Dick knew, he and Damian were the only ones who wore them. Bruce had commissioned the them as Christmas gifts a couple of years previous, and while Tim and Jason had accepted the cufflinks with conspicuously wet eyes, Tim had only worn his a handful of times since, and Jason's had stayed on the top shelf of the safe back at his and Dick's apartment, and Dick hadn't pushed the issue. Damian, however, had taken excellent care of his set, and threaded them through the eyeholes on the end of his sleeves every time it was safe for him to wear them out in public, and Dick often did the same in a show of solidarity. Dick had forgone them for the festivities in favor of not pulling attention away from his face or the wedding band that would (hopefully) be on his finger soon, but he still reached down to adjust the buttons on his sleeves when he noticed the flash of sun off of Damian's.
Just like the rest of the wedding party and extended family, Damian had a rose pinned to the lapel of his jacket, and Dick had put more money than he was willing to admit into getting him one that would match the green of his tie without looking absolutely cheap or ridiculous. Dick had briefly entertained the idea of putting Damian in blue instead of putting him green, but the decision had ultimately been Damian's and green was what he had chosen.
Alfred's suit had thin white pin stripes running down in between the thick strips of black. An elephant tie clip pinned Alfred's deep red and blue patterned tie to his shirt, and the deep red of the rose threaded through the button whole of his lapel matched the red of what Jason was supposed to be wearing.
Lian's lower half was amid a sea of white and fluffy tulle, while her top half was wrapped in a long-sleeved, lace bodice—the two halves separated by a thin stripe of purple to match the headband of silk in her hair, and the trim of the frilly socks on her little feet atop her all-white Mary Jane's.
"You look nice, too, Alfred," Dick calmed some as he looked between three of the most important people in his life—all of them looking put together, and totally in support of what was about to happen—and Dick softened as he turned his attention back to his grandfather. "But, please—stop with the "Master Dick" stuff, okay? You're family here, Alf, and today of all days I'd really like you to respect that."
"I—" it was evident that Alfred was going to try to argue with Dick, but then he seemed to stop himself, biting his lip for a moment, before he conceded with a sigh and a nod of his head. "If that is what you prefer, Master—Dick. If that is what you prefer, Dick. I shall forgo some of my formalities for the evening."
"Thank you," Dick reached up to clasp him on the shoulder—beaming once again as Alfred looked back up at Dick with a growing smile on his face.
"But I believe it is time we should start moving into place," Alfred's eyes sparkled, and Dick absently wondered if the elder man was going to be able to make it through the ceremony without crying. "Jason has waited long enough for us as it is, and I would hate for him to start worrying that you've decided to run out on him with the glamour that Ms. Zatara has put up."
"I—yes, I agree," Dick nodded, eyes flashing down to the grounds below them once again as a fresh wave of the unidentifiable energy bubbled up inside of him—slow and steady and originating somewhere down south that wasn't quite Dick's stomach but definitely wasn't his crotch either. "We should—we should definitely get going. I want to—I want—"
"We know," Damian cut Dick's rambling off, but this time Dick knew the annoyance was just for show as Damian reached up to lay a steadying hand on Dick's forearm, the other one firmly clasped around one of Lian's tiny thighs to keep her from falling. "You have spent the last five of months speaking of nothing else but "marrying your Little Wing", and we know how eager you are to get down there right now, so let us go. Let us "get this show on the road" or whatever it is that you or your insufferable husband-to-be would say."
There were a barrage of retorts that came to Dick's mind at that—lots and lots of things about Damian and the things of his that Dick had put up with over the years—but then Dick's eyes caught on what Dick knew was Jason's form pacing back and forth down in front of the rows of chairs, and suddenly none of them mattered.
"Yeah—yeah, okay," he agreed—stumbling over his own feet a little as he started to make his way over to the stairs that led down to the path that led towards the clearing. "Let's go."
As soon as Dick had asked Zatanna to put up a magical barrier of some kind around the ceremonial congregation, Zatanna had agreed. Such a gathering of meta humans would never have been possible without it, but the barrier also kept Jason and Dick from seeing each other before the ceremony was ready to take place. Out of all of Dick's exes, Dick was on the best of terms with Zatanna and she had been one of the first people to really step up and support his and Jason's relationship—even if she had been one of the last of their 'close circle' to find out. The barrier had served as both her wedding present to Jason and Dick and as a gift to the meta community as a whole.
The walk amongst the still thriving gardens in between the Manor and the clearing was much too long for Dick's liking. No matter how many times he put one foot in front of the other, the collection of chairs and the little arbor thing that set at the closest end of the aisle were just so small, but then—all of a sudden, Alfred's bony hand was clutching onto Dick's elbow, and Dick realized that they'd come to the end of the glamour charm.
"We're here, Dick," Alfred murmured as Damian pushed past the two of them with Lian in his arms.
Soft voices floated by on the breeze, but all Dick could really hear were the birds chirping in the distance and the whisper of Jason's voice as he laughed at the other end of the aisle, and Dick's heart caught in his chest as he finally caught sight of Jason chatting with Tim and Conner in the front row of seats.
Jason, every fiber of Dick's body sang, and it took all of Dick's willpower and Alfred's steady grip to keep Dick rooted to his spot.
"Huh?" he asked unintelligently as his attention snapped back down to the tiny alpha at his side—having completely missed whatever preceded his name in his fixation on finally being back within a reasonable distance of his omega.
"I asked how we were supposed to go about letting everybody know that we were ready to go," Damian repeated himself, as patiently as Damian got. "I know that we're on a schedule, and we've more or less stuck to it, but I cannot remember if there was some sort of sign or signal…"
"Oh—um—yeah," Dick rambled, looking down at his feet and furrowing his eyebrows as he tried his best to remember if he and Jason had ever come to any kind of a decision in all of the time they'd spent talking about how the ceremony would proceed. "We talked about the schedule, and maybe setting up a signal of some kind, but I don't think we ever actually got around to it…"
"Really?" Dick flinched as he looked up from his feet into Damian's unimpressed eyes.
"Sorry!" he apologized, blushing a little bit as he did so. "Planning a wedding is hard, and there are so many details that have to be figured out and—"
Dick faltered as suddenly there was a quiet 'whooshing-blub-blub' sound from off to the side, and all three of the men and Lian turned to identify it, only to be met with—
"Oh—hey, Dick," said blonde gave a tired sigh as she looked up from the crying baby in her arms, coming to a stop barely a step or two away from Dick and Damian. "It looks like I'm going to miss the ceremony. James won't stop crying so I'm just going to go on up to the house and try to get him calmed down—yes, Lian. I see you, pretty girl. And yes, James—I hear you, too. Thank goodness you don't have a meta gene because you would have decimated half of the state by now—"
"Aunt Dinah," Dick chuckled, reaching up to rest a comforting hand on her shoulder as he did so—smiling when her concerned green eyes snapped up to his in response. "It's okay. I completely understand."
"Thank you, hon," Dinah melted, reaching up to press a kiss to Dick's cheek, before she flinched as she pulled away, and reached up a second later to wipe at his cheek with a slightly spit covered thumb. "Oops—sorry. Not used to wearing the lipstick outside of uniform or one of Oliver's "work parties"."
"That's okay," Dick shook his head with a smile still plastered on his face, even as his cheeks tingled a little red at Dinah's chosen method of cleaning the make up off. "I'm used to it from the girls and 'Tana."
"Still, it's your wedding day," Dinah let her hand fall back down to James once she was content that all of the visible remnants of the stain were gone. "You shouldn't be walking down the aisle with another woman's lipstick on your face."
"That is true," Dick chuckled again, though he doubted that Jason would have minded—not when the lipstick had been Dinah's. "But, hey—speaking of which. You wouldn't happen to know some of the details on how this Barrier-Thing works, would you? I know magic isn't exactly your thing, but I have no idea what all we have to do in order to get through, and you teamed up with Zatanna for a while, didn't you…?"
"Yeah, I did," Dinah nodded her head, and Dick found himself nodding his, too. "And no, I really don't know how it works—but as far as I can tell, you can kind of just walk through and just appear on the other side. I didn't really think it was all that complicated… Why? What are you trying to do?"
"Oh, nothing," Dick was quick to reassure her. "Damian and I were trust trying to find a way to let everybody know that we're ready to start—"
"Well then, why didn't you just say so?" Dinah asked incredulously, rolling her eyes up to the clouds, and Dick had just enough time to realize what she was going to do and sputter a few half-formed words, before suddenly the air was shivering out in waves around Dinah's torso from where she'd disrupted the field of magic, and Dick flinched as she let out an ear-piercing whistle. "'AY—YO, ROY?"
"Oh—no—Aunt Dinah, that's okay—"
"WHAT?" Roy yelled back—voice cracking as the background conversations quieted or cut off completely and most of the guests turned to pay attention in intrigue or confusion.
"YOUR DAUGHTER WOULD LIKE TO COME SEE YOU."
"My daughter…?" Roy half mumbled to himself, furrowing his eyebrows at the other end of the aisle, but then, Roy quickly put the implications of Dinah's words together and realization dawned on his face as it dawned on most of the rest of the guests. "Oh—YOU MEAN DICK'S READY?"
"OF COURSE, THAT'S WHAT I MEAN, YOU DOLT."
"WELL THEN, WHY DIDN'T YOU JUST SAY THAT?"
"I WAS TRYING TO BE ROMANTIC OR WHATEVER!"
And the surprising thing was, Dick really hadn't minded the unconventional announcement as the wedding party at the end of the aisle moved into position, and the guests perked up in their seats and quieted down in anticipation. Like it or not, Dinah and Roy were a part of Dick and Jason's crazy extended family, and as crazy as they most definitely were, Dick loved them dearly, and he wouldn't change them for the world—especially not when Dinah pulled her upper third back from within the shield, and looked back up at Dick with a shake of her head and a triumphant look her in her eyes.
"That boy—why Ollie ever decided to call him 'Speedy' is beyond me," Dinah gave a bewildered sigh.
"Me too, Aunt Dinah," Dick smiled, leaning down to press a kiss to her temple. "Me too. Thank you, for letting everybody know I'm ready."
"You're welcome, dear," Dinah beamed up at him—not far from his height in the heels that she wore. Two or three inches at most. "I'm sorry that I can't stay."
"That's okay," Dick reassured, fussing with the cuffs of his shirtsleeves and the lapels of his jackets once again. "I completely understand—and so does Jason. Just get back on up to the Manor and get both of yourselves calmed down and comfortable, and maybe you can come down a little bit later to grab something to eat, if James 'll let you. If not—we'll send Ollie up with something."
"Oh, please do," Dinah barked out a laugh, her hair falling down around her shoulders from where it was still in its half-up/half-down 'do as Dinah continued to giggle. "I'd love to see what that prompts—I'd probably get six dinner rolls, some lunch meat, and a pile of fudge."
"Probably," Dick snorted, but Dinah was already turning to tickle at Lian's stomach as she smiled, and that was just as well because the guests had fallen silent on the other side of the barrier, and Dick could hear the twinkling notes of the piano accompaniment through the speakers on the ground at his feet in expectation of what was about to come.
"'Ready, Li-li?" Damian looked down at Lian expectantly as Dinah said her final goodbyes and made her way up to the house.
"Yep!" Lian nodded her head, kicking her legs against Damian's hips and thighs.
"Thank you for doing this, pretty girl," Dick leaned down to press his lips to her cheek.
"'Welcome," Lian closed her eyes and presented her cheek up for Dick's kiss, before she opened them back up again and tightened her grip on Damian's arm and shoulders as Damian lifted her back down to the ground, and followed to his own knees so he could fluff out her skirt and straighten her sash.
"You're going to be a good girl for me, right?" Damian asked, but Dick wasn't really paying attention anymore. He had been waiting so long to finally cement his relationship with Jason, that being at their actual wedding ceremony was a little bizarre.
Jason and Dick's relationship had always been rocky due to misgivings of the family and friends around them, but it finally seemed as if Bruce and the rest of the pack had come to terms with and were supportive of the marriage. Dick knew that there were still people who had their questions about the nature and the general health of the relationship, and Dick could respect that, but almost the entirety of the superhero community had shown-up to support them and celebrate their union (along with some of the non-superheroes they interacted with on a daily basis), and Dick was so appreciative of that, it felt like his heart was going to burst.
"Alright," Dick was pulled out of his own head by Damian's sigh. "On with you, then."
Lian's first few steps down the aisle had gone just fine. She'd been too absorbed in her conversation with Damian and the laugh that was trilling past her lips to notice Damian turning her around and pushing her through the barrier and down the first couple of steps of the aisle. She was looking back over her shoulder at Damian and Dick as she took the next couple on her own, so she still hadn't realized what was going on. It was only after she'd turned around and straightened herself that she'd seen all of the people gathered around—really around, and not just a little ways off behind a barrier that she didn't completely understand but knew meant she was safe—and she froze in her tracks with her little basket of white rose petals clutched to her chest.
Roy, Jason, and Wally were able to coax her a few more steps, all holding out their hands and calling out reassurances as Lian eyed the crowd—Wally dropping down on his knees in the dirt to be at her level and everything—and Oliver cracking a smile and holding out his own hand had gotten her even farther, but all in all, Lian had barely made it halfway down the aisle before Damian was slipping through the barrier behind her. Without a second thought, he hoisted Lian up into the air and ran her the rest of the way with squeals of delight and smiles on both their faces as the crowd around them cooed (and stared in shock) as Damian handed Lian off to Wally with a light blush on his cheeks.
There was a pause as Wally handed Lian off to her father where she obviously wanted to be, and Dick smiled as he watched Bruce and Jason tickled at her sides. Something in the air shifted as Bruce, Roy, Jason, and Wally settled back into their respective places on the stage and Damian took his seat next to Tim, though, and the next thing that Dick knew, the seated guests were all turning around to face where Dick and Alfred stood expectantly.
For a second, Dick wasn't sure what to do—fear clutched as his chest and his eyes blew wide at the sheer size of the crowd—but then Dick felt Alfred's hand on his elbow, and the world came back into center around him. Without looking away from Jason in the distance, Dick reached down to guide Alfred's hand away from his elbow and grabbed his instead. It was a little cliché, walking down the aisle arm-in-arm, and more than a little bit intimidating, but intimidating was what Dick Grayson did best, so he plastered a smirk-like smile on his face, and took his first step through the veil with confidence.
Once again, the walk was too long, but it gave Dick a chance to take in his surroundings and appreciate the decorations that he and the rest of the pack had spent so much time making and setting up. Jason hadn't had much of an interest in any of the shopping or the decision making—he'd said that it was all irrelevant and a waste of money in the grand scheme of things—but he'd allowed Dick the budget and help to do whatever Dick wanted, and Dick had been thankful for that.
The first archway was small—just over six and a half foot tall so that Jason could walk underneath of it without having to worry about running his head into the top of it, and only wide enough at the bottom to join the two different sides of the seats. The second one was much bigger, built of a solid weathered wood and trimmed tree branches instead of twigs and grapevines to bracket the altar that rested below it, and Dick couldn't have been happier over the way that the two of them had turned out. Both of the structures were one of a kind, handmade by Jason and Roy, and the larger one provided a beautiful backdrop for the ceremony with the trees and the fading sunlight behind it (even if most of those trees had random chunks of them missing).
The chairs that lined the two sides of the aisle were simple, by comparison—no more than folding chairs that had been rented out from some party vendor that Bruce knew from the extensive extravaganzas his public persona threw—but they were a dark and worn honey oak to match the arches and the trees in the distance.
The Sun still hung a foot or so above the horizon, so there wasn't really a need for lamps or anything, but the clear crystals hanging from the far arch refracted enough light to help pick up some of the slack. Each one of them had a meaning that traced back to various cultures around the world, but Dick mostly liked to think that they were the souls of those that the Justice League hadn't been able to save, hung up both in honor and celebration of the fallen and all that they had sacrificed in the name of the greater good. Jason had tried to argue the matter, but Dick had hung up a small chunk of obsidian in representation for Jason, too—a small memorial to the part of him that had been lost when he'd died so young and would never get back, no matter what any of them did. Dick doubted anybody else had noticed it—the stone really was small, and Dick doubted that anybody had even cared enough to look—but Dick knew it was up there amongst the others, and that was what mattered.
White gossamer sashes similar to the ones draped over the arbors were tied through the slated backs of each of the chairs. Dick hadn't bothered with large bows or anything gaudy like that—he'd just sprinkled tiny little wild flowers picked out of a meadow not too far away from the Manor into the folds, and let them be enough of a decoration. Tim had been the one to propose the idea, back when Dick and Jason were trying to figure out how to situate everything, and Dick had been so excited he'd bought the fabric before he'd taken the time to look into anything else. Tim had also been the one to do most of the actual sewing and weaving over the two or three months leading up to the wedding, but it had been a good distraction for him from all of the things that were going on in his own personal life. Dick had enjoyed sitting with Tim and helping the omega where he could, and everything had turned out so beautifully that Dick had known he made the right decision even before he'd gotten to see everything put together earlier in the day.
A runner for the aisle had been forgone, because Dick knew that the shoes on the guests' feet would have only torn it up, and Dick hadn't seen the point in wasting the money. Jason and Roy had just left a space between the two sections of chairs and let that be enough. A simple stage had been constructed at the end: two steps and a platform above the ground, just high enough so that those in the back would be able to see. Jason had sanded the wood and stained it to match the honey of the chairs. There was just enough room on top of it for the husbands-to-be, with a couple of steps between them and the edge, and Bruce and table beyond him, but it was almost as long as the support beams for the archway behind it, so there was more than enough room for Wally and Roy to stand around comfortably.
With the exceptions of Dinah's chair and three or four in the very back, all of the seats in the congregation were filled, and it was amazing to see so many familiar faces in one place. Ollie was up at the front in the second row—behind Dick's smiling brothers and sisters, and next to Diana. Mera's flaming red hair and trident stood out to left of Arthur's blond, near the middle on the right. Lucius Fox and the rest of his family were in the third row on the left. Pop's top hat stuck out from the top of his head a couple of rows behind them, and Dick smiled and waved at the shy little ones sitting at his sides. Billy was towards the back, looking uncomfortable in his second-hand suit, but Zatanna was leaning down to whisper something in his ear, and he gave a dazzling smile as Dick caught his eye.
There were so many people that Dick hadn't seen in so long throughout the crowd that Dick didn't know what to do. It was more overwhelming than he had words for, so after the first third of the aisle, he turned his attention towards the front of the clearing and focused on the men waiting for him there instead.
Jason was front and center, as Dick had expected, but Dick ignored him for the moment in favor of taking a moment to appreciate the rest of their wedding party. Lian was still up in Roy's arms, head and face half tucked-up underneath of Roy's chin as she absently swung her legs against his thighs and watched Dick come down the aisle—too young to appreciate the scope or the grandeur of what was happening, but old enough to understand that she was witnessing something important.
Roy himself looked just as Dick had expected him to—his dark red hair was cut tight to the sides of his head, and the longer top part was pushed back from his face with the lightest of gels. Habitually, he'd rolled his shirtsleeves back over his forearms and held Lian tight to his chest as he kept an eye on the back of Jason's head and scanned the horizon for any signs of trouble. Dick had seen Wally a handful of times since he'd gotten dressed, so nothing about his appearance surprised Dick either. His sleeves were rolled up to his elbows, just like Roy's, but he grinned down at Dick as Dick approached the stage, and his hands were clasped together over his belt buckle in lieu of having something to hold.
Dick had briefly entertained the idea of having bouquets for his half of the wedding party, back when he'd been planning everything, but he'd eventually given up the thought because he had a feeling that they would only lead to bad things with Roy and Wally around, and judging by the way that Wally's arms and legs blurred out of existence every couple of seconds, Dick had made the right decision.
Wally's hair was as wild and untamable as ever—not to mention more orange than red—but Wally had made a big show of brushing it in front of Dick earlier in the afternoon so that Dick would know that he'd tried to tame it, and that was good enough for Dick. Wally flashed Dick a blindingly bright smile when he caught Dick looking and crossed his eyes into a 'funny' face, but Dick just rolled his eyes and tried to ignore the soft sounds of Wally's resulting snicker.
The only other person up on stage was Bruce, standing a step or two behind Jason with a book held in his hands down in front of his belt as he waited. Both his pants and his jacket were black—a clothing choice that had shocked absolutely no one—but he was in a white dress shirt underneath, and the top couple of buttons had been artfully left open in place of his refusal to wear a tie. Bruce had purchased several and laid them out for Jason and Dick to choose, but both Dick and Jason had known how much Bruce hated having things around his neck, so eventually they'd just given them back with a note that said something along the lines of, "You've forced us into hundreds of ties over the years that we haven't wanted to wear; luckily for you, we're not vindictive enough to do the same. Pop your collar and flaunt it, old man (and don't complain when things get rowdy at the after party)."
Bruce had taken the gift-of-sorts in stride, as he did with most of the things that came around with his kids anymore, and it was nice to see him at peace with himself and the world around him as Dick and Alfred approached. Bruce wasn't one for jewelry, and he'd forgone his boutonniere for the ceremony, but Dick appreciated the understated-ness of his attire, and was very happy to see his shoulders dropped down in a relaxedness Dick hardly ever saw.
The Bay air was a little cold—colder than Dick would have liked—but a chill in the air to warrant the use of dress shawls and suit jackets was better than everybody sitting around and sweating to death underneath of an unusually hot October Sun. The banquet hall up in the Manor had always been an option if the weather had turned bad, or if the clearing hadn't been salvageable, but Dick and Jason enjoyed spending time outdoors, and it only seemed fitting to have the ceremony outside.
Thankfully, Alfred kept up with Dick step-for-step as they moved, and Dick was appreciative for the steady presence at his side. Having Jason so close but not being able to reach out for him was torture, and Dick would have shaken just about anybody else's arm off in his attempts to get up to the front to reunite with his almost-husband. Alfred was calm and composed in his steps, though, as he led Dick down the aisle, so Dick kept himself in check and settled for leaning down and whispering into Alfred's ear, just as they were passing by Vic and Kori in the audience.
"So, a penguin and a bat walk into a bar—"
"Master Dick!" Alfred kept his voice low enough that the non-enhanced human guests wouldn't overhear, but he sounded properly scandalized as he gasped.
"Ah, ah, ah," Dick chastised him with a grin on his face and laugh on his lips. "What did I say about the whole "Master" thing?"
Alfred didn't respond—he just gave a put upon sigh and grumbled under his breath about being "too old"—but then all of a sudden the alpha and the beta were at the end of the aisle, and neither one of them had a chance to say anything else, because Dick was looking up, and the rest of the world fell away as he took the last couple of steps towards his pack leader and his Little Wing.
Once again, Alfred stopped, and Dick was forced to stop with him. Dick had a sinking suspicion deep in his gut that Conner and his ever mysterious Tactile Telekinesis had something to do with making sure that Dick stopped in time, too, but Dick was too far gone to put any real thought or analysis into the theory. Unfortunately, Alfred had maneuvered himself in between Dick and Jason, just like he'd been instructed to do, before they'd stopped, and Bruce's voice served to further distract Dick as Bruce allowed the guests to return to their seats and greeted all of the guests officially. Dick did his best to stand there and listen—to take in Bruce's words and process their meanings—but no matter how hard he tried, the syllables just ran together into a jumbled mess of gibberish until Alfred was finally stepping back and Dick was allowed to move over to take Jason's hand, and Jason—
Jason was beautiful. More beautiful than anything else Dick had ever seen. The image that Dick had held in his head from the moment that Jason had agreed to marry him had been accurate. Jason's entire visage was a mix of red, black, and white—as Tim and Roy's attire had promised—but he was so much more than that. So much more than Dick could have ever hoped his spouse and his mate to be.
A majority of Jason's hair was pulled back to the base of his neck, tied up in a leather cord that Dick knew had been shredded out of one of Jason's old jackets after it had otherwise been destroyed (and found way more attractive than anyone should ever find any form of hair accessory), while Jason's bangs hung loose around his face and framed Jason's sea green eyes and chiseled cheekbones flatteringly. The little white shock fell in between Jason's eyes the way that it always did, and Dick lasted all of about thirty seconds before he reached up and brushed it aside—causing both of the two men to giggle like school girls and smile (and get reprimanded by an exasperated Bruce, because, "would it kill you two to behave, I know your father raised you better than this,"—much to the crowd's pleasure).
Jason wasn't wearing his glasses (black-framed, rectangle things that helped him see up close), but Jason didn't really them to see unless he was particularly tired, anyway.
Tiny bits of silver shone on both of his ears, catching the sunlight much like the decorative crystals off to their side, and the flashes of light pulled Dick's attention away from Jason's face at varying intervals. Generally, Jason wore a small, plain silver hoop in his left lobe, and a matching stud in his right, while he wore a series of five, sleeper-styled, silver filigreed hoops in his right cartilage, and his wedding to Dick was no exception. Each of the hoops along his cartilage had come from different countries around the world, though most of the piercings themselves had come from his time with those people (as Dick liked to call them), and each of them had a different story.
Dick had never really found piercings much of a turn on (even though he most definitely found them interesting—there was a reason he'd been drawn to get one of his own in the first place)—but something about the pieces of metal in Jason's ears called out to Dick on a level that was beyond sensual or carnal, and Dick had to actively stop himself from reaching up on to his toes so he could sink his teeth into the flesh underneath of them or lave his tongue over Jason's ear in general until Jason's legs were falling apart underneath of him.
Thankfully, there were many things about Jason that Dick found positively alluring and fun to look at, and Dick used those distractions to his advantage, instead of ravishing Jason right there on the altar in front of everybody (though, that mental montage didn't help Dick's plight either).
In accordance with tradition, Jason had elected not to show Dick any of his attire before the wedding (and avoided seeing Dick's in return), but Dick knew what Jason looked good in—and more importantly, he knew that Tim knew what Dick thought Jason looked good in—so, the general cut and color of Jason's suit hadn't surprised Dick when he'd finally taken the time to notice such things. The broad lapels and thick collar of Jason's black jacket framed Jason's figure nicely, and the combination of the soft white shirt and the almost-burgundy of Jason's tie and vest set off the natural warmness of Jason's skin tone quite nicely. Dick couldn't see it, but he knew Jason's brass bullet casing was on its chain underneath of Jason's shirt, and Dick could feel the leather cord of the bracelet Jason always wore tickle at his wrist as he held Jason's hands and played their thumbs against each other.
There was a pattern to Jason's vest—something thin and looping—but Dick couldn't make out what it was from what little peeked up over the lapels of Jason's jacket. The swirls were stitched out of a thread that was just a little shinier and smoother in texture than the rest of the fabric, but the only thing beyond that Dick had discerned was that it would be fun to run his hands over later, after all of the formalities were over with, and you know what? Why did Dick have to wait until after the ceremony to touch Jason? They were already mated, and it wasn't like there was anybody in attendance who wasn't already acquainted with the fact Dick and Jason liked to be physical with each other, and Jason was just so inviting with those big, strong hands, and his broad chest and firm stomach felt so good pressed up against Dick's and the smirk that pulled at those lips as Dick looked back up to make eye contact with him was absolutely to die for and—
"Richard!" Dick stopped dead in his tracks and his head snapped around so he could glare up at Bruce and bare his teeth. "Behave!"
Dick's eyes narrowed as a snarl built in his throat, but before Dick could do anything more, Jason let out a laugh both overtop and underneath of him, and Dick's head instinctively turned back up to his omega. Dick's body remained tense for just a breath more before Dick allowed Jason's smile and the genuine humor in Jason's eyes to lull him back into a sense of calm and ease as Bruce gave an exasperated sigh to their side.
One of the first things that Dick and Jason had agreed upon after they'd sat down to seriously start discussing their wedding was that Bruce would be the one to officiate the ceremony. Bruce had been shocked and left speechless for over fifteen minutes after Dick and Jason had asked and explained why they wanted Bruce to be the one to preside over the affair—and those had just about been the longest fifteen minutes of Dick's life, waiting for Bruce's answer; Jason had left two stress fractures in Dick's hand from squeezing it so tightly in his uncontrollable nervousness, and Dick hadn't been able to fly for two months, but Jason very clearly hadn't meant to do it, and Dick had been rutting in the middle of his recovery anyway, so it hadn't been all of that bad—but Bruce had croaked out a yes eventually, and nobody had held it against him when he hadn't been able to make it through family dinner that night without breaking down in tears.
Alfred and Clark had been the only other options that Jason and Dick had considered, but Alfred walking Dick down the aisle had seemed like a much more fitting role for their long time butler and grandfather, and Jason had never possessed the relationship (nor the fascination) with Clark that Dick had, and considering the recent…tension between Clark and Bruce over the whole Tim-thing, Jason and Dick couldn't justify asking Clark when the leader of their pack was available and willing.
Jason and Dick had given Clark a part in the wedding, though, because he had been just as much of a parent to them as Bruce had—whether the two older men would admit it or not. Alfred had been tasked with purchasing and carrying las arras as he walked Dick down the aisle, and Dick had then presented them to Clark for their 'blessing'.
Neither Jason nor Dick were particularly religious—though, the both did consider themselves to be spiritual (they couldn't do what they did on a daily basis and go through everything that they went through and not believe in some kind of a higher power out there, even if neither one of them felt comfortable putting a name or a face to it)—but Clark was important to the both of them, had saved both Jason and Dick's lives and the lives of those that they cared about more times than they could count, and it felt fitting for him to take on that role for their wedding, even if it was only for a moment or two.
Jason didn't have very many links to his heritage—in fact, his bloodline was so diverse that the only majority he could really claim anymore was American—but Alfred had commissioned and purchased the custom set of las arras from a traditional Spanish goldsmith that were personalized to Jason and Dick's lives as a form of early wedding present for the two of them, and Jason had spent two days crying after Alfred had given them to him the previous Christmas.
Even without the emotional tie, the coins were an exquisite gift. Each of the thirteen pieces had the Wayne Family crest embossed on one side, with a unique etching on the other—specified to Jason's life and all of the things that Jason and Dick had been through over they years. Dick wasn't sure how Alfred had gotten away with that because some of the engravings were distinctly Bat-related (like the Nightwing symbol one of them had, and the Red Hood mask on another), but when Dick had asked the elder man about it, Alfred had simply said that he'd told the metalworker that the recipients were fans of the vigilantes, and Dick had chosen to leave the conversation at that. Alfred was by far the most mysterious of them at times (and the most terrifying), and sometimes it was just better to not know.
The designs went beyond Bat-related, though. One of them had a likeness of Zitka and the Big Top depressed onto it, and another showed what could have only been Dick himself up on a trapeze, but the rest of the coins were tailored specifically to different parts of Jason's life and persona.
Dick's favorite was the one with a motorcycle engraved into it—the skill that went into carving out all of the little details of the handlebars was just phenomenal—but Jason had taken a partiality to the coin with the book and the ink well and quill.
All of the arras were beautiful, though, and Dick was just as thankful for the gift as—if not more so than—Jason was, and they'd spent hours looking over each of them and ogling at their beauty before Alfred had insisted upon taking the coins back and keeping them hidden away until the wedding. It wasn't a ritual that Jason and Dick had ever talked about taking part in, but it was one they were thankful for nonetheless, and Dick had smiled as he accepted them from Clark and handed them over to Jason (who then handed them over to Roy for safekeeping until the reception was over before he turned back to Dick and Bruce).
The ceremony itself had been short, as was planned. The longest part of it had been Bruce's opening monologue about the meanings of love and family, and nothing after that had taken more than a couple of minutes before Bruce had transitioned over into whatever came next. Jason and Dick had written their own vows, but they weren't anything particularly fancy or breath taking. Just general declarations and promises of love shared with clasped hands and conspicuously wet eyes.
The exchange of rings came last, but even that had been quick and without much decorum. Jason and Dick had shopped for quite a long time (and in more than one country), before they'd finally settled on simple golden bands, proportionate to their individual sizes—bought at a small jewelry store in one of the locals malls in Gotham, no less. Jason and Dick had considered the most extravagant and beautiful of rings, and they even had a couple of them that they'd purchased back in the safe at their apartment, but in the end, Jason had wanted something they could wear all of the time and replace without anybody noticing, and there was just no way to do that with personalized rings. As it was, they already had to change out their various piercings when they came and went as their various personas, and Dick didn't want to worry about their wedding rings anymore than Jason did. Everybody already knew that the Red Hood and Nightwing were together, anyway.
Bruce closed out the ceremony with a few more words—a predetermined blessing that Jason and Dick had already "approved"—but Dick wasn't listening anymore than he had been back at the beginning. He was too busy looking up the beautiful omega standing before him, and Bruce had barely gotten the "you may now," part out of his mouth before Dick was reaching up on his toes and pulling Jason down by a hand on Jason's lapel and the other on the back of Jason's neck as Jason grinned.
Coincidentally, the first kiss was not nearly as…family friendly as Dick and Jason had planned, but the crowd was clapping and cheering, so Dick figured it couldn't have been that bad in the grand scheme of things. He would have been happy to stand there all day, just kissing his Jason and letting Jason kiss him in return, but then Roy threw Lian at Jason's back, and Jason and Dick were stumbling apart—scrambling to make sure that they hadn't done anything too embarrassing before Jason was accepting Lian into his arms, and the wedding party was making their way back down the aisle amidst a sea of pink petals Dick wasn't sure if he should blame on Tim or Virgil.
The following pictures seemed to drag on forever, but Dick was happy to stand around smiling and posing for the photographer as the guests were corralled to the reception tent for cocktails and appetizers because whenever the family got distracted, Dick was able to push up on his toes and steal more kisses from Jason, and Dick just loved getting to do that. Some of the photographs were taken with the Manor in the background, but most of them were taken throughout the gardens and the grounds, and Dick knew from the very second that Tim and Alfred started arranging the lot of them amongst the half-charred cherry trees that the "candid" ones of the ceremony and the reception were going to be his favorite.
Dick and Jason's return back to their guests didn't go exactly as was planned—Dick and Jason snuck back into the tent before Tim had gotten back to inform the DJ of their impending arrival—but it was nice to be able to mingle with the guests and grab a glass of water before they all sat down for speeches and dinner. Jason and Dick had slipped away just before that, into a service tent with a small table to sign their marriage certificate and scent (because seventeen hours were just way too many hours to go without scenting when they'd still been within the same general vicinity of one another). Dick would have been perfectly happy just biting down in front of all of the guests, but Alfred would have had a heart attack, and it felt…fitting for his and Jason's first scenting as a married couple to be a little more intimate, even if Dick was disappointed that they weren't able to take the gesture all of the way.
The reception tent was beautiful. Dick had seen it basically finished earlier in the day before he'd gone inside to get ready, but it was oddly vilifying to see it again with everybody inside, mingling with drinks in their hands as they waited for Jason and Dick to reenter. The decorations were minimal, just like they'd been outside, but they were a nice balance to the mix of vivid personalities and vibrant colors milling about in the form of Dick and Jason's guests. There had been some debate over the best way to arrange the tables and the dance floor, but eventually Jason and Dick had decided on a smattering of tables that sat anywhere from six to ten or so people lining the outside edges of the tent at varying intervals, while the 'dance floor' set in the middle of everything. Unlike the ceremony area down in the yard, a temporary wooden floor had been laid under the tables and tent, and the even ground was a nice change of pace from the uneven terrain outside.
There was a gift table spanning the end of the tent closest to where the ceremony had been held, by one of the two public entrances. The table closest to the service entrance that Jason and Dick had come through was the smallest of them all, angled away from the corner with four seats around it—two on the far side facing into the tent for Jason and Dick, and one on each of the outside ends for Wally and Roy. Dick had wanted to set up a much larger table so that the four of them would have been able to sit their entire pack, but no matter how Jason rearranged things around the tent, there just hadn't been enough room. An "L" shaped table sat in the corner across from it, with an "open" bar on one end, and the cake and a myriad of desserts on the part that jutted out and helped to form a little pathway between the "dining" area and the service entrance that led to the "kitchen" tent.
The rest of the tables were circular—draped in white cloth with the same chairs that had been outside spread around them. The flowers of the centerpieces were much bigger than the ones that had been down on the chairs in the congregation, but they were just as vast and unpredictable in species as the rest, and still on the smaller side in the grand scheme of things.
The plates, and the silverware, and the glasses were a hodgepodge of all of the sets and things that Alfred kept around the Manor for the parties that Bruce threw, but once again, that had been by design. None of the sets had been big enough for the number of guests that Jason and Dick had invited because it wasn't very often that Bruce threw dinner parties of such a size, and Dick hadn't felt right spending the money to rent or out right buy a new set entirely. In the end, he and Jason had settled on three or four sets of each different piece that complimented one another, and Jason and Alfred had set about mixing and matching them throughout the room until every place setting was unique. It was a small thing, but he heard several different people commenting on the plates and glasses and how beautiful they were as he made his rounds, so Dick figured the effect wasn't all that far off from what he'd originally intended.
There wasn't much of a need for added light towards the beginning of the reception, but by the time Jason and Dick were sitting down for the speeches and toasts, the darkness was starting to sink in, and Dick was thankful for the fairy lights intertwined throughout support beams above, and the soft lanterns that set in the middle of the flowers on each table. They weren't very big things—barely large enough to hold two or three tea-light candles each—but they helped to under light each of the tables, and staved off the cooling air of the night as the party wore on.
The speeches and toasts in-and-of-themselves didn't take very long either. A handful of people stood up and spoke—Bruce, Wally, and Roy included—before Alfred finished off his short tale about a younger Jason with the announcement that dinner was ready to be served.
Conversation picked back up as the waiters and waitresses started pushing their trolleys around the room and offered people food, and Dick was happy for it as he watched Lian crawl her way over into Jason's lap. One of the most concerning and daunting questions Jason and Dick had faced when planning their reception was how they were supposed to staff an event of such opulence (at least in the number of guests invited, even if Dick and Jason had chosen to scale back on the cost of the venue and decorations and things) without compromising the safety of their secrets or their guests'.
The first answer that Dick had come to was that Jason and Dick didn't need anyone—that they could just set up a buffet and everybody could just…serve themselves—but it hadn't taken very long for Jason to convince Dick of the flaws in that plan. First and foremost, both alpha and omega alike had agreed early on that they wanted Alfred to attend the wedding as a guest instead of as a facilitator, and for him to actually enjoy himself, and if Jason and Dick didn't hire at least some staff, that was never going to happen.
In a similar sense, DJs were helpful at moving the events of the evening along, and at least somebody needed to be in a "kitchen" somewhere if Jason and Dick wanted to serve a proper meal. There were more issues than that—Jason had spent nearly an hour listing off a slew of various scenarios one day that had plagued Dick's mind back when the two had first started really working through the finer details of planning everything—but those three alone had been more than enough to cement the realization into Dick's head that they were going to at least have to hire somebody.
Having said all of that though, the more pressing matter for Dick and Jason was always protecting their guests' secret identities, and even the most thoroughly vetted staff would still cause potential issues, so the debate had gone to a standstill for quite awhile. Sure, J'onn or M'gann could perform memory wipes after the party was over, but none of the parties involved felt comfortable doing that. A person's physical and mental autonomy were all they were really guaranteed in life (if that), and neither Dick nor Jason wanted to impose upon that simply for their own comfort.
The issue had continued to stump Dick for months—well into the previous summer—and it had only been a month or two before the wedding and Dick had been discussing the matter up on the Tower with Vic that he'd finally found a solution agreeable to all parties involved.
The two old friends had met up in the kitchen as Dick came out from a meeting with the League and Vic woke up to take over monitor duty for the evening, and it had been awhile since they'd talked because life had pulled them in different directions. Vic had been busy with the Titans and taking over control of the Watch Tower as he integrated himself into it's systems, and Dick had been busy down in Gotham with both his personal lives and his professional one. So, Dick sat down to catch up while they both had a minute to spare, and somehow catching up had devolved into Dick venting about the wedding.
Vic had always been a good listener, and Dick had certainly done his fair share of listening to Vic when the roles had been reversed—plus, the wedding was just part of what was going on in Dick's life. It was only natural that Vic had asked whether Dick and Jason had everything figured out, or if they still had planning to do, and it was just as natural that Dick had answered him honestly. At that point in time, Jason and Dick had more or less decided on the layout of the ceremony and the reception and what they wanted it to look like, but they were still struggling to figure out the logistics. In fact, Jason and Dick were debating canceling the whole thing entirely and just going down to the Courthouse because they couldn't figure out a way for their vision to work without jeopardizing the safety of their guests, but as Vic and Dick ended their conversation, Vic offered up the name of a friend of his that he still kept in touch with—somebody who ran a small DJ-ing company on the side of his day job—just in case Dick and Jason were interested in somebody who knew about the superhero-community and would willingly submit to having their mind wiped by M'gann or J'onn after everything was over with.
In the moment, Dick hadn't thought much of the suggestion as he gave Vic a hug and went on his way to his Gotham patrol—because he'd just about given up hope and was ready to count his losses—but something about Vic's offer stuck in the back of Dick's mind as he punched thugs in the face and interrogated Gang Lieutenants and walked little old ladies back to their apartments and homes, and Dick found that the more that the night wore on, the more he couldn't stop thinking about the proposal.
Obviously, Dick and Jason didn't want to ask friends of theirs to attend their wedding as servers, but there were certainly people out in the world who had connections to the superhero world that Dick and Jason didn't know specifically, and maybe more of them would be willing to come to Gotham and work for the night—just to get a chance to interact with more of the community as a whole.
Broaching the subject with Jason had been terrifying, but the words were out of Dick's mouth before Dick had even made it all of the way through the window of the safe house that they'd crashed in that night. At first, Jason had been too confused and surprised to understand what Dick was talking about, but after Dick had gotten inside and undressed for the evening, the two had sat down at the old, run down, two-person table in the kitchen, and Dick had recounted Vic's offer and where Dick's brain had taken the proposition over a plate of homemade Beef Hokkien noodles and dumplings (frozen days before and thawed earlier in the evening courtesy of Jason, because "just because we're living like common thugs, doesn't mean we have to like common thugs, Dick.").
Jason had listened intently as Dick rambled—shoveling forkfuls of food into his mouth as he chewed with his mouth open in order to be able to talk as fast as his brain was working—but it hadn't taken Jason very long after Dick had finally trailed off into silence to start poking holes in Dick's logic. There had been bowls of food in front of Jason, too, but Jason's bites had been better controlled (and much more polite) as he watched and listened to Dick. The idea that Vic (and by extension Dick) had proposed had most definitely appealed to him, too—it was the best thing that they'd considered yet—but Jason wasn't as convinced that it would actually work as Dick was. Still, after some discussion he was willing to propose the plan to Bruce and the rest of the family, and after some more conversations, Bruce cast out what nets and contacts he had.
It had taken a couple of days for word to get out, but pretty soon hoards of people were getting into contact with Jason and Dick, volunteering their service for the wedding in one capacity or another, and that was how Dick and Jason ended up with neuroscientists and nuclear physicists waiting the service for their wedding. Dick and Jason had ended up paying them for their time (quite generously, if Dick was being honest), and while neither of the husbands were particularly happy about it, all of their staff had willingly and knowingly agreed to let J'onn alter their memories at the end of the night. The medley of servers led to several mix-ups through out the night, and it wasn't the fastest or most thorough of services that Dick had ever experienced, but the waiters had all been as obliging as they could and made the most wonderful conversation with Dick and Jason's guests, so Dick could hardly complain.
The caterers themselves had been hired traditionally, and as far as Dick knew, neither he nor Jason had ever met any of the three of them before, but Alfred had handled that aspect of the evening (along with the acquiring of the actual food) himself, and once again, Dick didn't ask any questions.
They were good at what they did, though—and they prepared more food than Dick knew what to do with!
The thick homemade pasta slathered in a tomato-based sauce with roasted garlic and spinach and slices of Italian sausage and little melted globs of mozzarella through out had been a no-brainer for Dick, but there were three other noodle-based dishes that had looked absolutely ravishing, too, and Dick had only gotten to actually taste the more traditional spaghetti that Jason had piled onto his plate along with the roasted beef and succotash that Jason had wolfed down.
There were endless slices of a freshly toasted and buttered garlic bread to go with the pastas, and a "French" bread that had been added to accompany the heartier foods, while another, more traditional and dry bread had been served alongside the janija.
Dick and Jason had forgone a traditional lettuce salad, but had chosen a delicious cucumber one, full of halved cherry tomatoes, quartered Roma tomatoes, chucked yellow tomatoes, sliced onions, grated parmesan and chunked mozzarella cheeses, and raw bell pepper dices, topped with a seasoned olive oil and vinegar dressing that had Dick's eyes rolling back into his head (even if it wasn't Jason's).
Sautéed green beans and roasted broccoli accompanied the succotash of corn, peas, and lima beans, along with a breaded and fried okra that had literally set Barry and Gar into an arm wrestling match. Pimientos rellenos were served, too—three or four to a small plate, lightly stuffed with a mix of ground beef and cheese. The meat hadn't stopped there either. On top of all of the Italian sausages and the veal and beef meatballs, there were grilled pork chops and lightly seasoned chicken breasts for those who were interested—and the potatoes!
There were garlic roasted red potatoes; white potatoes from the roast with carrots on the side; scalloped potatoes; mashed potatoes infused with garlic and basil; baked sweet potatoes with butter and marshmallows piled inside! By the time that Dick had seen all of it parading by in front of his and his guests' plates, he'd wanted one of everything.
It helped that the waiters didn't really have to do any actual waiting, as they pushed their trolleys around. Instead of having a buffet or a traditional menu, the food had put onto different serving platters to be taken directly to the tables, and the staff had spooned servings on to the guests' plates at the requests of the guests or simply handed over plates of food that had all been pre-proportioned out onto tiny little side dishes by the chefs. Olive trays and little platters of crackers and cheese sat on every table, as well, but the guests had snacked on them in-between the ceremony and the reception while the speeches had been going on, so the waiters had grabbed them and taken them back to the kitchen on their first round of serving the rest of the food.
The dinner portion of the evening lasted just over an hour in total, but everybody sat around talking for another thirty minutes or so before Jason and Dick felt the need to stand up and move the night along. The two of them had sat down and made up a seating chart (although, really it had been more Dick, Alfred, and Tim), but it had been more of a way to make sure that there were enough seats for everybody, and Dick hadn't been surprised when he'd looked up from his plate to realize that not everybody had stayed in their sanctioned place. Thankfully, everybody had stayed seated while the food was still being served, but it was obvious by the rising noise level throughout the tent that the guests were getting restless, so when Vic's friend (a guy named Marv, who turned out to be a wonderful DJ) stopped at Jason and Dick's table and asked how much longer Dick wanted him to wait before he started with the rest of the proceedings of the evening, Jason pressed a quick kiss to Dick's lips and Lian back over to her father as Dick told Marv to go ahead and proceed.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Marv's voice flowed through the buzz of conversation like water as Dick stood up and ducked around the back of the crowd in between the tables and the tent wall, just loud enough to grab everybody's attention and quiet them down. "If you wouldn't mind turning your attention over here to the dance floor, I believe one of our newlyweds would like to speak to you…Mr. Grayson?"
"Yes, thank you," Dick watched Jason take the microphone from Marv with a smile, before he held the device up in front of his mouth and turned to address the crowd sitting around him.
Getting through dinner without turning around and mauling Jason had been hard, but Dick had somehow managed to keep his butt in his seat and his knot in his pants (probably with more unintentional help from Lian than Dick was willing to admit), and it was only the anticipation of what was coming that kept Dick from losing control as he maneuvered himself into position as Jason distracted the crowd.
"Hello, everybody! How are you doing? Is everybody doing well? As far as I've heard, nobody's really had any problems yet, but I've been kind of distracted here for the last hour or two, so if something's going on, you're got to tell me—otherwise I'll just completely miss it," a murmur of laughter ran through the crowd, and Jason gave a half-embarrassed smile before he went on. "But anyway—I know you guys have listened to a lot of speeches already, and I know all you want to do is get up and dance and start to mingle, so I'm going to try to keep this short, but I do have one more story to share with you before we move on for the evening. It shouldn't take very long—I'm not a very good storyteller, as I'm sure a lot of you know—but it is a story I feel like somebody needs to tell. So, here we go. Once upon a time, not too very long ago, an eager young alpha and a hormone crazed omega got themselves in over their heads with a bond they weren't ready to handle—"
Dick's heart clenched in his chest and a lump caught in his throat because that wasn't what had happened at all and neither was where Jason was going with his narrative, but it was the story that the rest of their guests knew, so Dick held his tongue and fought back the tears as he watched Jason pace the dance floor slowly as he spoke.
"—And it wasn't very long before things started to go south for the two of them. Both parties involved were young and dumb—as I've already mentioned—and along with the…along with the encouragement of some of their family members and friends, the alpha and the omega realized just how young and dumb they were, and how much of a failure their relationship was. So, after one particularly heated argument, they decided to take some time away from each other and break their bond, in hopes that time and space would clear their minds and fix the mistakes that had been made."
That was not why the couple had broken up, either, but Dick just crossed his arms over his chest and shifted his stance as he listened and waited until Jason was finished.
"As it turned out, time and space did absolutely nothing to clear the omega or the alpha's heads. In fact, said alpha and omega were never able to completely break their bond because they were never able to stay away from each other for long enough, and the last I heard, they were getting married, or doing something as equally crazy and naïve as that—"
That particular part was absolutely, definitely, one-hundred-and-twenty-percent true, and Dick found himself nodding his head in agreement with just how true it was as a quiet (if not a little nervous) chuckle ran through the crowd.
"—But that's not the point of this story," Jason went on as the crowd quieted back down. "The point of this story is that while the alpha and the omega were initially trying to take some time away from one another, the omega was run out of his pack. The young man had been standing on the fringes long before the failed relationship had taken place, but the attempted bond breaking…that had been enough. Even if the pack had let the omega stick around, he wouldn't have wanted to with how much pain he was in—so, once the decision had finally been made for him to try to break the bond with his alpha, the omega packed his stuff and headed out of town. Now this omega…this omega didn't have a lot of friends, and he really didn't want to spend time with any of them anyway, because he was worried that they would all just say 'I told you so', but he knew one couple who had never judged him, no matter what he'd done. So, the omega pointed his bike towards Star City and didn't stop driving until he was sitting in front of their apartment…"
"…Eventually, the omega got his shit together—"
"That's a bad word!"
"—Yes, Lian," Jason blushed, but didn't reprimand his goddaughter as a hearty laugh broke some of the tension in the air. "It is. I'll give you a couple of push-ups later, okay?"
"'Kay," the little girl called back from where she still sitting with Roy and Wally at the table they'd eaten dinner with Jason and Dick at, before she went back to playing with her father's hands and kicking her heels against his shins. Push-ups were the price that one paid for swearing in the Harper household, and apparently that extended to outside of the Harper household, too—at least for the Harpers.
"Eventually, the omega got his…stuff together and made his way up into the building," Jason amended his transition pointedly before we went on, because there were a few other kids in attendance (though, Dick figured they'd probably heard much worse before, considering the company that Jason and Dick kept). "Now, he hadn't been expecting much when he'd knocked on the couple's door—maybe just a bed to lay in that night while he figured out his plan, and a filling, if not warm, meal in the morning—but to the omega's surprise, the couple took him in and insisted that he stay with them for at least a couple of months so that he could let his bond break in peace. Now, as I've already mentioned, the bond never broke and eventually the alpha and the omega got back together, but the couple allowed the omega to stay with them for the duration of the whole ordeal—going so far as to hide the omega's whereabouts from the rest of the omega's pack so that the omega could rest in peace and try to heal the wounds that had been inflicted upon him throughout the days leading up to his initial split with the alpha…"
Jason trailed off as his story came to an end, but the tent stayed quiet in anticipation of what he was building to, as Jason reordered his thoughts before he went on.
"For those of you who don't know, the couple in that story—the second one that helped the omega, not the first—were Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance," Jason revealed as the tent breathed a sigh of relief. "As I'm sure you guys have noticed, our families are close—closer than most actually—but no matter what I've been through, or whatever the rest of my pack has been through, Ollie and Dinah have always been there for us when we've needed them to be, and there have only been a few times we've had the opportunity to return the favor."
That was very true, too. Despite how awful Ollie was at parenting his own son sometimes, both he and Dinah had always treated Dick and the rest of the family well, and there had never been a time that they hadn't agreed to help whenever Bruce or one of the Robins or Batgirls had asked.
"As most of you do know, Ollie and Dinah chose to get married once again and had a small ceremony a couple of months ago. Unfortunately, the celebration was cut short and Dinah went into early labor at the commotion. While everybody ended up making it out okay, and we were blessed with the glorious gift of James Anthony Queen about six hours later, Dinah and Oliver never had a chance to participate in their first dance—"
"Oh, Jason Peter Todd—don't you dare," Dinah's shocked whisper cut through the silence, but it was already too late. Dick smiled as Jason smirked across the floor at her and Dick himself started to move closer.
"—So, ladies and gentlemen, my husband and I have decided to do something a little different tonight. Instead of the two of us standing up here and swinging around in front of you, I would appreciate it if you could join me in inviting Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Queen to the dance floor with me—"
"Jason!" Dinah hissed, but Dick looked over her head to see Oliver smiling with a glint in his eyes as an instrumental piece started drifting softly through the speakers in the background. "Don't you dare!"
"—Mr. and Mrs. Queen?" Jason turned to them as if Dinah had never opened her month in the first place, and the smile on his face said it all.
Dinah continued to try to protest, blushing and stammering all of the way, but Dick just slipped James out of her arms as Oliver took her hand and Jason handed the microphone back to Marv, and eventually, Dinah succumbed to the cheers of the crowd as Ollie helped her out of her seat and onto the dance floor. Neither Ollie nor Dinah had known the dance was coming, so they weren't dressed in anything spectacular, but Ollie kept the moves simple as Jason and Dick's guests watched with smiles on their faces, and Dick melted back towards the edges of the tent as he smiled and cooed down at James and leaned into Jason's hands on hips when the omega had finally picked his way over through the tables to join them.
Dick could feel stray eyes on them as Jason pushed a kiss to his temple, but Dick hardly cared. Some might say that he and Jason had pushed the dance off on Ollie and Dinah as a "publicity" stunt of sorts, but the gesture had been far from that, and all of the important people involved understood that. While first dances seemed frivolous to Dick and Jason, they had meant something to Dinah (as ridiculously romantic as she'd admitted the tradition to be), and it was a small way for Jason and Dick to give something back to her, after everything she'd done.
It was only two or three minutes later that the song "ended", and the DJ invited the rest of the guests up to the dance floor as the next song started to play. The only regret Dick had in regards to the entire wedding was that they hadn't been able to hire a live band—he'd always thought that it was more fun dancing to live music than it was to dance to recordings—but Marv did an excellent job, and a DJ allowed a wider variety of music.
Ollie managed to keep Dinah out on the floor for another song or two as Marv invited other couples to join them, but it wasn't very long before Dinah was making her way back across the floor and slipping James out of Dick's arms as she scolded Dick and Jason through her blush and overwhelmed tears. Thankfully, the noise level had picked back up between the music floating through the air and the guests that had flooded out of their seats to socialize, but Jason and Dick both took Dinah's sobs in stride as she crushed them to her side in a one-armed hug. Ollie had done a better job of holding himself together, but the glimmer in his eye was unmistakable as he shook Dick's hand, and Dick didn't miss how close he stayed to Dinah's side.
James, for his part in all of it, fussed at the increase in noise, but staved off his screams and his tears for a little longer at all of the extra attention he was received from his cousins.
Jason and Dick stood around talking for a couple more minutes with Ollie and Dinah before Damian had come around with a kicking Lian in his arms, and it wasn't very long before the very same little girl was pulling Jason back to the dance floor for his first dance of the night. Dinah used the excuse to excuse herself to the bathroom to pull herself back together from the unexpected display of affection, and Ollie had made his excuses to join her. Damian had tried to make his own excuses at about the same time, too (though, he was just trying to sneak back to his corner so he could sulk with Colin), but Dick had grabbed the back collar of his jacket as Damian turned to walk away, and grinned as Damian nearly choked himself before he'd realized he'd been captured.
Damian obviously demanded to knew the meaning of Grayson's treachery as soon he'd regained his footing, but Dick's grin just turned into a smirk as he turned his youngest brother back around to meet his eyes. It didn't take very long for Damian to get the picture after that, and it was barely three seconds after Dick had secured his hold on Damian's upper arms that the younger man's eyes were widening and Damian was trying to pull away.
"Grayson—I demand that you release me at once!" he ordered as he started to struggle against Dick's grip. "This isn't funny! I already told you once that I absolutely refuse to—"
Dick just tightened his hold however, and amused himself with watching Damian squirm and fight against his grip as he effortlessly manhandled the tiny alpha backwards towards the dance floor. While it was true that Damian was much bigger than he once was, Dick still had a good fifty pounds on him and the definitive upper hand when Damian wasn't willing to use deadly force.
There was a moment of slight internal panic on Dick's end just as they broke through the crowd standing around the dance floor. Somebody had bumped into Dick and he had lost his hold on Damian, but Damian had been too slow to capitalize on the opportunity and Dick had used the momentum to shift his grip until both his arms were down around Damian's waist—caging the young boy in close to Dick's body. Dick laughed as couples danced around them and Damian wiggled and quite literally tried to push himself up out of Dick's arms, but eventually Damian just gave up and contented himself with grumbling about his displeasure as Dick maneuvered him back down against his chest and began to parade the two of them around the dance floor to the music.
Unsurprisingly to anyone (including Dick), Damian slithered out of Dick's arms the first chance that Dick gave him about two or three songs later, and stalked off of the dance floor as Dick smiled after him. Dancing with other people wasn't exactly Damian's thing, but he'd stayed in Dick's arms and hadn't resorted to lethal force to get away from his former Batman, so Dick didn't push the issue when Damian finally gave his hard no. Thankfully, Steph had been making her way across the dance floor towards them anyway—her new floor length, red dress sashaying in waves behind her—and Dick took the opportunity to grab his dance with her as the next song started, much to her pleasure.
Wally had come next—the dance an overzealous affair that had involved more laughing than actual dancing—but Bruce had cut in as the song changed, and Dick found he was having a hard time keeping his eyes and his cheeks dry for an entirely different reason as he gave up the lead for the first time that evening, and allowed somebody else to start moving him around the dance floor with a practiced ease that put even his own to shame.
It was far from the first dance that Dick had ever shared with Bruce—Bruce had been the one to teach Dick how to dance, after all—but there was an undertone to this particular dance that Dick had only felt a handful of times before, and he could feel the eyes on them as he ducked his head down and let Bruce press his lips to the skin over his forehead.
"I'm proud of you, you know that right?" Bruce whispered after a second or two, his lips still brushing against Dick's forehead.
"Yeah," Dick nodded his head as he gave up on trying to fight the tears—closing his eyes so he didn't have to pay attention to anything else other than the smell and feel of his father. "Yeah, I do."
It hadn't always been easy between Dick and Bruce, and Lord above and Spirits around them knew that they weren't done fighting, but Bruce had always tried to do the best that he could and Dick was thankful for that. Dick had loved his parents while they were alive, and while it was true that he still held their memory very close to his heart, it had been almost twenty years since they'd passed and Dick wasn't the little boy he'd been when they'd been ripped away from him anymore. Bruce had been the one who had taken Dick's hand and accompanied him down the path of his life and led him into adulthood, giving him a pack and a family along the way—the pack and the family that Dick happily, proudly declared as his own—and that had elevated Bruce above Dick's parents in Dick's mind a long time ago.
"Thank you, for taking me in all of those years ago," Dick moved down to nuzzle his nose and his brow up into Bruce's scent gland. It wasn't very often that Bruce went without scent suppressants outside of the Manor, even out on the grounds, but Bruce seemed to have made an exception for the reception (or at least, he had chosen not to excuse himself from their meal to reapply them), and Dick was thankful for that as his tears mixed in with the parental pheromones on Bruce's throat. "Thank you, Bruce."
"You're welcome," Bruce soothed, holding Dick close to his body. Jason and Dick had decided to forgo traditional father/daughter, mother/son dances, because the logistics of that would have just been too complicated—what with them sharing a single parent and all, but Dick had pledged to dance with Bruce at least once before the night was over, and he knew that Jason would invite Bruce out for a dance, too, even if the two slipped outside onto the lawn where nobody would see. "Wouldn't trade having you in my life for the world, Richard… 'Best impulse-investment I've ever made."
Dick couldn't help but bust out laughing as he pulled back away from Bruce's neck, tears still slipping down as his face as he smiled, "Well, I guess that's one way to look at it."
"Yeah," Bruce grinned back at Dick, and under different circumstances the tears in his eyes might have scared Dick, but in the moment, they just made Dick's chest swell even more. Very few people realized that Bruce had as good of a sense of humor as he did, because he rarely showed it, but the few of them that had been blessed with the privilege of witnessing Bruce's humor understood the irony behind the Joker being his biggest nemesis. Bruce was also very sentimental when it came to the people he cared about, and Dick didn't hold that against the older man either. "But you do know I'm serious about the first part, right? You've changed me more than anything else I've been through, and if it weren't for you, I wouldn't have any of your siblings, either."
"Yeah, I know," Dick nodded his head again, and only the last of his tears slipped down his cheeks as he moved forward to wrap his arms around Bruce. "And I love you, too."
Bruce didn't response—he'd never been good at the "I love you"s—but he reached up and wrapped Dick up in a tight hug, and that was enough. Bruce's actions had always spoken louder than his words, and the way that he buried his face down into Dick's shoulder and inhaled deeply said it all.
Off to the side, Dick caught sight of Clark twirling around with Jason, and Dick was thankful for what little attention they'd been able to pull away from himself and Bruce. Even amongst the superhero community, it was incredibly rare for those outside of whom Bruce deemed his pack to see Bruce show his children affection, aside from when they'd been seriously injured, and Dick could understand the appeal of looking in on the private moment, even if he didn't particularly like it. A few of the other couples on the dance floor helped—Donna with Lian settled on her hip; Diana and John; Karen and Mal—but Dick mostly just put everything out of his mind as he turned his face back into the bend of Bruce's neck and re-nuzzled at the skin with his nose and brow for a moment—all the way down to Bruce's scent grand—before he pressed a kiss to Bruce's cheek and pulled away completely.
Bruce had nuzzled back, though he'd kept his composure better than Dick had, and it eased something inside of Dick to see the post-scent relaxedness that graced his features after Dick was done. It had been a long time before Bruce had agreed to scent with Dick, but it had cemented something within their relationship when they did, and Bruce's response had been obvious.
Without asking or saying anything else, Dick and Bruce automatically moved back into a dancer's hold, and not even a second later they were back to spinning around the dance floor as if nothing had happened—the only difference in their postures being that Dick relaxed and let his head rest down against one of Bruce's broad shoulders as they moved. Two or three more songs passed like that—Bruce and Dick taking small steps as they shared quiet conversation back and forth amongst themselves and the tent buzzed around them—before a hand settled on Bruce's opposite shoulder and Dick perked back up out of surprise and curiosity.
For a half of a second, Dick worried that something was wrong—a lifetime of training told him that something had to be wrong for somebody to interrupt Dick and Bruce—but then, Dick's eyes met an unnatural blue, and he relaxed again. As much a tactical error as it was, Dick trusted Clark, and he trusted that Clark would keep them safe—himself, and Bruce, and the rest of the family and the pack—no matter what else Clark was doing, and Dick knew that if something were wrong, Dick would have been able to tell immediately by the alien's posture and facial expression, and all Dick could see on Clark's face was calm.
"Mind if I cut in?" his eyes flicked between Dick and Bruce, Jason standing a step or two behind him.
"Not at all," Bruce was the one answered him, and Dick didn't argue. Bruce would only agree to let his guard down for so long, even at Dick and Jason's wedding—and that was exactly what he'd just done. Not only had Bruce spilled his heart to Dick, he'd also brought all of his walls down and overridden his extensive training to focus solely on Dick, and Dick wasn't going to push that limit anymore than he already had. Clark dancing with Jason in that moment hadn't been an accident, and Dick knew that Clark only had so much time out on the dance floor with the three of them before he would be expected to be at his assigned table with Lois. "I think I've taken up enough of the groom's time, as it is. Jason?"
"Sure thing, old man," Jason answered Bruce's unasked question without hesitation, though he ducked his head and looked down at his shoes to hide the red in his cheeks and the tips of his ears as he did so.
A few more words were shared between the four—"please"s and "thank you"s and "don't take too long"s—but pretty soon, Dick was leading Clark away, and Bruce and Jason were occupying the same space that Dick and Bruce had just inhabited. Dancing with Clark wasn't nearly as eventful as dancing with Bruce, but Dick enjoyed it all them same, and Clark shared his own admissions of pride and congratulations as Dick smiled back up at him and cracked quiet jokes that only Clark would hear. Clark was distracted, though—as he kept his senses stretched out over the length of the Manor's grounds so Bruce felt comfortable relaxing—and mostly, Dick just took the opportunity to watch Jason and Bruce when he could see them out of the corner of his eye.
Jason had his head ducked down, nodding ever so slight as Bruce murmured something to him that Dick couldn't hear, and Dick smiled as he focused his attention back to Clark and struck up an idle conversation about work at the Planet.
Cass' dance had come next. Bruce and Jason had only danced for just over a song before they met back up with Clark and Dick. The four shared a few more pleasantries back and forth—just quick conversation about the ceremony and the reception—before Lois materialized at Clark's side, asking what was taking so long, and Bruce excused himself to go back to sitting at his table.
Clark hadn't looked happy at that, and Dick's heart squeezed in his chest for both of his mentors, but Clark had made his decision long before Dick had even really been aware of such things, and it was hardly the time for Dick to speak up and say something. The stiffness in Bruce's shoulders as he walked away spoke volumes as Clark stared after him, but Lois remained oblivious to them both as she drug Clark away.
Dick assumed that he would dance with Jason after that, but instead, Cass and Steph had materialized out of the crowd as Jason pressed a comforting kiss to Dick's forehead. Steph had seized Jason's arm without hesitation and pulled him off across the dance floor to grab a spot of their own before Dick could do much more than squeeze Jason's hand in response. Thankfully, Cass was still standing at Dick's side with a laugh on her lips, and the skirt of her strappy black dress swishing around her knees, so Dick had asked her if she wanted to dance, and Cass had taken his hand without a second thought.
The two danced around the floor as partners—equals—and Dick had spent the entire time smiling. While Cass' true talents laid in ballet and other performance styles, she was a skilled ballroom dancer as well, and her steps far out numbered Dick's as he led her around. Donna's dance had followed, and then Zatanna had stolen Dick away not too long after. Roy had snuck in there somehow, amongst a sea of others, but the next dance to stand out in Dick's mind had most definitely been Tim's.
While the omega had been dancing with Jason when Dick came across them, Tim had spent most of the evening off to the side at the table he'd shared with the rest of the family, a sour frown on his face ever since the music had stared. Dick had kept an eye on Tim throughout the entire wedding, concerned for his younger brother's wellbeing, but Dick hadn't had much of a chance to talk to him until he was actually in Dick's arms.
"Hey, baby bird," Dick nuzzled his nose down against Tim's, and smiled at the way that Tim's face scrunched in response. "How are you feeling?"
"Tired," Tim sighed.
The first few weeks of Tim's pregnancy had been…rough, and quite honestly they had been hard for Dick to watch. While nothing of note had really happened the first couple of days after the truth had been revealed—other than seeming the entire world tilting on its axis as the family and the pack's focus and attention switched to Tim and the mysteries of the embryo—it hadn't taken very long for things to go south. Maybe six days after Dick had realized (and Tim had confirmed) what was going on, Tim's health had taken a turn for the worst, just like it had when Conner left the first time, and it had been three days before Tim had finally been able to pull out of it. Ten days later Tim had done the exact same thing again, and the pattern had only repeated itself.
"I'm sorry," Dick apologized as his eyes flicked over Tim's face, but Tim just shook his head.
No matter what Bruce or Tim had done, the illnesses had kept coming back—seemingly at random intervals—and it wasn't very long after the two-moth mark that the amniotic sac had clouded over, and suddenly not even Conner or Clark could see through to the living thing inside. Both Bruce and Leslie had recommended attempting an abortion at that point in time—no fetus was worth Tim's health, not with the contributions that the omega made to society—but Tim had turned oddly adamant on the subject, and refused to allow either of the two 'doctors' near him, because, "the longer we let this go, the more we can learn about the natural combination of Kryptonian and human DNA. Even if the fetus doesn't turn out to be viable in the end, the farther along we let the pregnancy progress naturally, the more information we can gather, the better prepared we will be when we re-ask this question down the road. So far, it hasn't been anything that I can't handle."
Dick didn't entirely understand Tim's motivations, but Tim had remained firm in his beliefs, and it had come around for him in the end. After about a month of Tim's health oscillating between deathly ill and relatively fine, Clark made some off-handed comment about the fluctuating levels of Kryptonian Cells in Tim's blood stream causing Tim's discomfort instead of being a byproduct of something else. It had taken another two or three weeks for Tim and Bruce to differentiate between what the fetus was recycling and providing for itself and what Tim was metabolizing from outside sources—but in the end, they'd been able to prove that Clark was right.
"…The place looks beautiful," Tim tried to change the subject before Dick had the chance to ask anything else, and Dick frowned in response. "All of your hard work really paid off."
"It did," Dick agreed. "I'm really proud of the way it turned out—but that doesn't answer my question."
Tim had stumbled upon the last piece of the puzzle by accident. Another month had passed without more answers, even though Bruce and Tim had isolated the dips and spikes in Tim's Kryptonian Cell Concentration Levels as the culprit of Tim's precarious health. Then, one night the two omegas were sitting down in the Cave, analyzing and debating all of the different variables in Tim's life since he'd gotten pregnant—while Jason and Dick had serviced their gear off to the side—and Jason had casually asked if there was anything different that Tim and Conner did in their sex lives whenever Conner left the Manor for more than a day or so.
Jason had mostly asked the question to be a smart ass—bringing up to the subject just to get a kick out of the resulting un-amused glare Tim sent his way—but it wasn't an angle that Tim and Bruce had considered, and Conner's absence was the only connecting factor Tim could divine from the whole thing (though, even that pattern hadn't been consistent through every down turn that Tim had taken).
"How are you feeling?" Dick plowed on with his line of query, regardless of Tim's attempts to derail his concentration.
The correlation between the lapses in Tim and Conner's copulations and the downward turns of Tim's health had become obvious once Tim had sat down and charted it all out, along with his subsequent uphill turns after the two had been…reunited again—and yes, Dick had wished he could bleach his eyes out after accidently stumbling upon Tim's files detailing their schedule one day because wow. Of course, Bruce and Tim had insisted upon taking amniotic fluid samples and blood tests and a whole bunch of other stuff that Dick thought was a little unnecessary, but the proof was in the proverbial pudding, and Tim's health had stabilized not too long after Tim and Conner had started keeping Tim's newest…needs in mind. Eventually, Bruce and Tim along with the help of Clark and Leslie and a few others had been able to come to the conclusion and prove that the fetus was able to break down Kryptonian sperm and absorbed the demolished proteins to synthesize other proteins that the fetus required, even if they still weren't sure what the mechanism of action was.
Both Bruce and Leslie hypothesized that they would be able to administer said nutrients to Tim and the fetus through other means in a worst-case scenario—a blood transfusion should have done the job fine, and Clark's blood held the same markers that Conner and Tim's had—but the needles needed to pull blood from Clark or Conner were expensive, and administering the nutrients straight into Tim's womb where they could be absorbed directly into the fetus' amniotic sac seemed to have the least amount of room for non-absorption into the fetus' environment, so Tim and Conner had chosen to just stick with it. Nobody was sure what was going to happen after the baby was born—if it was still going to need the nutrients, because at that point in time, Tim and Conner would switch over to the transfusions because just no—but such calculations and predictions were outside of Dick's realm of comfort, so Dick didn't waste too much time on them, at least not while Bruce and Tim were still around to plan.
"Uncomfortable," Tim finally gave Dick an honest answer after a moment or two of grimacing at the world in general, and Dick was thankful for it. "No matter what I do, people keep staring at me and asking what's going on. I hate it."
"I think that's understandable," Dick nodded his head in a show of solidarity after a moment of companionable silence. Despite the severity of what was going on, very few people actually knew what was going on outside of the pack, and Dick could sympathize with why Tim was having a hard time. Every single one of the Bats lead busy lives, and it must have been hard for Tim to put all of that on hold at a moment's notice. Sure, the pay off would be worth it in the end, but…Dick struggled when he had to take a couple of weeks off for bullet wound or a broken arm, he couldn't imagine what the prospect of eight months or more would feel like. As it was, Tim had set aside his suit with no mental preparation (and no explanation to the rest of the community) whatsoever, and the weight he'd managed to gain in the intervening months was obvious underneath of his suit throughout his waist and hips—though, his "bump" was widely hidden. "It there anything Jase or I can do to help you?"
"No," Tim shook his head, looking properly bashful as he looked down at their chests pressed together and scuffed his shoe into the floor on their next step. "You guys have done more than enough for me over the last couple of months, Dick. You deserve to enjoy this. I'm just being…cranky—hormonal, if you will."
"Timothy Jackson, hormonal?" Dick joked quietly, laughing as Tim dropped his hand to full-on slug Dick on the shoulder. "You don't say."
While Tim hadn't developed any weird superpowers like super-strength or heat-vision (like two speedsters had hypothesized), Tim and Conner had noticed that Tim had a significantly elevated healing factor due to the increased levels of Kryptonian Cells in his body, but nobody had been willing to test the limits of it. Thankfully, the fetus was too small and uncoordinated to do any kind of damage to Tim, but that would only hold true for so long, and Dick was incredibly grateful for the advanced healing factor—though, it would have been nice if the Kryptonian Cells stopped Tim from getting hurt in the first place, instead of just speeding up his recovery on the other side.
"Shut up," Tim gave a half-hearted growl, but his bottom lip was already pushing out into a pout, and the affect was completely lost on Dick.
"Aw, I'm sorry, baby bird," he apologized for the second time, but much like Tim, he was laughing and smiling too much to be taken seriously.
"Yeah, yeah," Tim rolled his eyes, and this time when he tried to change the subject, Dick let him. "The caterer that Alfred hired did a good job. The food wasn't as good as Jason or Alfred's, but…"
Despite all of the unknowns and the uncertainty of what could happen down the line, Tim was still pregnant—with an unknown hybrid at that—and the stress and circumstances were taking their toll. All things considered, Dick thought Tim was coping well, but as Damian had pointed out so long when they'd first started discussing the issue…it would be hard on anybody.
Getting to see Tim relax down into his arms and forgot about his troubles for a couple of minutes was nice, as Dick continued to talk with the omega, and Dick just let himself enjoy Tim's presence for the rest of their time together.
As it had turned out, Dick only had about three songs with Tim in all before Jason and Conner had interrupted them. Dick had seen the two of them dancing together out of the corner of his eye while Dick and Tim moved around the floor, and Dick was man enough to admit that the sight was weird. Watching Jason and Conner navigate the world of being kind of brothers-in-law and of clashing hormonal rank amongst their pack was endearing—if not a little funny—but seeing, the two of them weaving around the dance floor, completely comfortable in each others' arms as they chatted with smiles on their faces was just…concerning.
Very few people realized it, but behind the country bumpkin exterior, Conner had a mischievous streak that went beyond what even his alpha instincts forgave, and Jason agreeing with on anything was just bad news.
Especially for Dick.
Thankfully, the pair had only come over for Tim, so Dick was momentarily spared from whatever chaos they were planning. Dick had stood talking to the three of them for a moment, Jason wrapped up in one of his arms while Tim leaned against his other side, but unfortunately, the four had still been more or less in the middle of the dance floor, and it wasn't long before Diana came along and pulled Dick away. Tim and Conner took the opportunity to make their way back over to the tables housing the rest of their generation of the Titans—though, Dick had learned that they'd hit the dance floor together before Jason had stolen Tim away—and Alfred had ventured out to dance with Jason a moment later.
Mera and Ms. Fox had demanded Dick's attention after Diana for dances of their own, and Dinah and Ollie had followed after Iris and Martha, but Dick made sure to sneak off the dance floor long enough to grab Babs and lift her out of her wheelchair so that the two of them could share a dance.
Once upon a time, Dick wouldn't have been able to do that—things had turned quite sour between the two not too long after Babs had found out about Dick and Jason's relationship, and Dick still had a problem with that—but Dick had also come to realize that Babs was like a sister to him, and that he'd made mistakes when it came to their relationship, as well. Babs had seemed genuinely surprised when Dick tapped on her shoulder and invited her out onto the dance floor, and the contented (if not a little sad) smile on her face as Dick settled her back into her chair after they were done had made Dick happy that he'd done it.
Jason snagged Dick's hand as Dick made his way back to the dance floor, and something inside of Dick relaxed as Jason grabbed Dick's chin with his free hand and pressed a gentle kiss to Dick's lips. Kissing Jason had always brought a sense of calm to Dick that nothing else had, no matter how brief the gesture was, and Jason had always seemed to appreciate the gesture the same. Sadly, the crowd and the expectations of their guests had pulled them apart, yet again, but Dick had enjoyed the moment they'd shared together nonetheless.
Eventually, Marv turned the music back down and everybody gathered around the dessert table or returned to their own seats as Dick and Jason prepared to cut the cake. The dessert itself wasn't anything particularly grand—three increasingly large, circular layers of red velvet decorated with alternatingly textured white icing, and topped with a "bouquet" of cascading flowers, flowing from one later of cake to the next—but the table was laden with pies and tarts and crumbles and all sorts of other confections to make up for the smaller size, and those had been handmade by Alfred with the help of Ma and Ollie and Iris. Very few people knew it, but their was a decent sized fruit orchid towards the back of the Grounds of the Manor's Property, and most of the peaches and apples and pecans and almonds had been grown and picked on the grounds—not to mention the grapes and the pumpkins. The cake itself had been commissioned from a bakery in downtown Gotham.
After Alfred had snapped about a hundred pictures of Jason and Dick slicing and serving out the first piece of cake, Dick had picked Jason's ceremonial bite up off of the plate and placed it in between his own lips without even thinking.
His eyebrows were practically up to his hairline as he looked up at Jason with a fond challenge in his eyes, and the shocked gasps and catcalls of their guests were completely lost to Dick. Jason spared only the briefest of seconds to flash a devilish grin and chuckle, before he leaned down and stole the bite right out of Dick's mouth. Of course, that had led to Dick and Jason making out for a minute as they licked the lingering sugar out of each other's mouths, but Alfred had stepped in before things could get out of hand, and Dick had actually been thankful for that. In spite of what his brain sometimes thought, Dick really wasn't an exhibitionist, and Roy would have killed him if he and Jason had taken it too far in front of Lian, anyway. She was used to Jason and Dick kissing and stuff, but she'd been never around when they'd scented before, and Dick didn't think it was the best for her to start asking Roy questions with how new his relationship with Wally was.
Several conversations distracted Dick after that—the least of which wasn't Haly pulling Dick aside to let Dick know that he and the rest of the company had to leave to catch their flight—but by the time the rest of his and Jason's guests had settled back into their seats with their desserts from the "bar", Dick was joining Jason at their pilfered seats at the family table, and was looking forward to having a little bit more food. Jason had offered to grab Dick a plate before Dick had left to walk Haly and the others out, and Dick had been more than happy to just leave him to it. What Dick hadn't been expecting was the giant, muffin-looking-thing that smelled of cinnamon and ginger and nutmeg with a mound of vibrantly colored berries piled around it, and some sort of hand-whipped creamed dolloped on top.
To a stranger, Dick knew it wouldn't have looked like much—other than maybe particularly appetizing—but the treat before Dick was one that he knew very well, and one he was also sure he hadn't seen up on the dessert table.
One look up at the blush on Jason's cheeks as Damian and Conner bickered in the background had confirmed Dick's theory, and barely a second later, Dick was tackling his omega out of the seat next to him and onto the floor. The commotion caused another stir as Jason made noises of surprise and laughed as Dick wrestled him onto his back and pinned him to the wooden floor, but Dick didn't care. He just proceeded to kiss every inch of Jason's face that he could find and settled his thighs and calves on either side of Jason's hips as he silently accepted their plate from Clark's hand as the Kryptonian passed by. Somewhere along the lines, Jason had rolled his eyes up at Dick and grumbled about acting like heathens, but Jason accepted every strawberry and blueberry and bite of homemade perfection that Dick offered down to him with love in his eyes, and a thumb rubbing circles into Dick's hip.
Surprisingly, Tim joined Dick and Jason on the floor not too longer after Dick had tackled Jason. Apparently, he'd been up in the house going to the bathroom while everybody else had settled down for dessert, but he'd returned with a plate piled high with goodies, and Dick hadn't minded when Tim had folded himself up into the small space between Dick and the empty chair to his left, and slumped down into Dick's side petulantly. Dick had thought about asking what was going on—clearing something was bothering the tiny man—but one look at the way that Conner shifted in his seat to their right told Dick that it was a bad idea, so Dick just pressed a kiss to the top of his little brother's head and ignored the brush of TTK at his back as Conner reached out to comfort and embrace Tim in that special way he had as the family kept on talking around them.
More dancing had come after Dick had finally licked the last little bit of cream from his fork. Dick and Jason were only able to steal a song together before they were pulled apart again, but that was okay. Weddings were more for the family that they were the couple involved, and Dick really enjoyed getting to see all of his friends and family. Rose had come first this time, insisting on a dance for both her and her father, and Dick had rolled his eyes, but complied nonetheless. Diana had grabbed another dance somewhere along the line, and so had Steph. Bruce disappeared about fifteen minutes after Dick had left the table, but Dick didn't worry. Despite Clark's best efforts, Dick had noticed the older alpha leaving out of the "servant's entrance" when nobody else was paying attention, and Dick knew that they would both be fine. A quick scan around the tent revealed Martha sitting beside Lois—not hearing a word as the younger of the two of them talked—and Dick made a mental note to send the grandmother-like figure to his family a bouquet of flowers or something else equally as wonderful in thanks for her troubles.
It was about an hour later that Dick finally managed to get Jason to himself for any length of time—the two of them drinking water and wine a couple of tables down from the one they'd eaten their dinner in after being pulled aside for a conversation with Mal, Karen, and Donna, and Dick couldn't have been happier when he did. Without hesitating, the two fell into the old habit of flirting and teasing each other back and forth, and it wasn't very long before Roy was stopping by with a mildly concerned look on his face as he looked between the newlyweds.
"You quite alright there, Jaybird? You look like you're about to bust a seam!"
"Yeah, yeah, Roy—I'm fine," Jason waved off his concern as he wiped his eyes with his handkerchief. "Dick and I were just talking about patrol tomorrow night, and he said something that I found funny. The laughter will pass in a second."
"I'd love to know what it was," Roy mused as he crossed his arms over his chest and raised an eyebrow between Dick and Jason, but both men could see his posture relax at Jason's reassurance. "Had to be dirty in order to get you to laugh like that."
"Oh, definitely," Dick snorted, even as Jason rolled his eyes.
"Up yours, Harper," he drawled, and Roy just grinned before Jason changed the subject. "Where's that pretty little ball of trouble you call a daughter?"
"With her Grand-Ollie," Roy's smile faded into somewhat of a grimace and his arms flexed across his chest, but he was standing around talking to Jason and Dick without his daughter in his immediate sight, and that was something. "I believe she's regaling him with the tale of Wally taking her to the supermarket to do the grocery shopping a week or two ago."
"I've heard that one," Jason grinned as he picked up his glass and took a drink of the red wine within. It wasn't his favorite—both Jason and Dick preferred whiskeys—but it had gone well with the menu they'd requested from the caterer, and Bruce had paid for it, so both Jason and Dick had grabbed a glass. "Lots of suspense and terror when Lian jail broke the lobsters and Wally ran them back out to the sea."
"Yep," Roy nodded his head, and his easy going grin was back. "Ollie is probably loving it."
"Why don't you leave us alone and go find out?" Jason suggested.
"Are you trying to tell me you don't want me around anymore?" Roy feigned betrayal.
"That's exactly what I'm saying, Roy-Boy," Jason punched his arm lightly.
"Well, I've never," Roy imitated a little old southern bell, and both he and Jason were breaking out into laughter as Dick smiled into his own glass. "Fine, then. I know when I'm not wanted. See if I ever come back over to make sure you're okay again."
"Fine by me," Jason and Roy shared one last laugh and a grin before Roy started to walk away, and Jason turned his attention back to Dick. "Sorry about that."
"Don't be," Dick shook his head, making a face as he set his wine back down on the table. "I'm not going to lie and say Roy's my favorite person in the world, but he's good to you, and I don't mind having him around—especially not when he cares about you so much. I trust you, and that's all that matters."
"Well, thank you for that," Jason gave a small smile, and Dick just caught the tops of his cheeks turning pink before he ducked down to take another drink of his water. "I appreciate it."
"You're welcome," Dick smiled back—reaching under the table to grab and squeeze Jason's knee gently, before his smile faded into more of a smirk and a chuckle. "Besides, Lord knows you deal with enough from my crazy exes and friends."
"That's true," Jason snorted a half laugh in return, but Dick had timed his words so that Zatanna would overhear them as she walked by with Cindy and Zinda, and he got a smack to the back of his head and a roll of her eyes for his trouble.
"Ow," he reached up to rub absently at the spot she'd hit, but he didn't mind—especially when Jason gave that weird little half-smile again and let his goblet endowed hand fall back down into his lap.
"You feel like dancing with me again?" he cocked his head just the tiniest bit towards the dance floor and Dick smiled.
"Yes," Dick nodded his head, reaching over to steal the last swig of Jason's water before he slipped his hand down into Jason's and pulled him out in the direction that Jason had indicated just seconds before.
The music still wasn't very loud, but the voices and laughter of Jason and Dick's guests' were, and that was what Dick cared about. Well—all Dick cared about besides getting Jason into his arms, and Jason seemed to have the same opinion on that, so Dick only waited until they were a couple of steps onto the floor before he turned around and more or less fell onto Jason.
Jason gave a small grunt of surprise in response—the noise ending in a tiny squeak as Dick got his arms around Jason's ribcage and squeezed—before he seemed to realize what was going on and relaxed down into Dick's embrace with a light chuckle on his lips and a kiss to the top of Dick's head.
"You comfortable there, Dickiebird?" Dick could hear the amusement in Jason's voice as he felt the accompanying vibrations of Jason's words against his face and shoulders.
"'Smell good," was the only answer Dick gave, squeezing Jason even tighter as the fingers of one of Jason's hands made their way up into the fine hairs at the nape of Dick's neck. The two stood there for a moment like that—barely rocking from side to side as they just held each other—taking in deep breaths of each other's scents and nuzzling into their respective nuzzling places as their guests moved around them.
For the first time that evening, Dick didn't think about stealing Jason away to some private corner of the party or up to the house, and instead he contented himself with being held for a moment before the music changed keys around them, and he allowed Jason to maneuver him into a light dance's hold.
Neither of their mouths lingered as Jason ducked down to press a soft peck to Dick's lips—not really in the mood to put on a show with so many potential eyes on them—but the kiss was sweet nonetheless, and Dick found himself falling back down to the ground with a small smile on his face as the music shifted once again and Jason started to widen their steps so that they were actually dancing. The genres of music had come and gone as different guests filled the dance floor and Marv helped to slow down or speed up the evening as they broke for cake and dessert, but medium paced instrumentals had done the best—aside from the immensely popular Cha Cha Slides and Macarena's—and Marv had kept them coming as long as people were out on the dance floor.
Dancing with Jason was always an experience, though most notably in the way that it brought more peace to Dick's psyche than anything else. Without realizing it, Dick found himself resting his cheek back against Jason's chest as they wandered aimlessly around the dance floor amongst the swarm of bodies doing the same thing.
Once upon a time, Dick would have scowled and wrinkled his nose at the thought of having an omega (or any kind of partner) taller than him, but as he and Jason had spent more time together and slowly realized their love, Dick had come to the realization that he really didn't mind. Jason was big and warm, and Dick had always felt safe in side of Jason's arms, so who cared if Jason couldn't fit inside of Dick's clothes? Jason and Dick looked after each other, and Jason being able to take care of himself gave Dick a sense of freedom in their relationship that he had never thought he would need. Being a vigilante was dangerous, and while it hurt Dick to think about, it also eased Dick's conscious to know that Jason would be okay if something ever happened to Dick and he accidently left his mate alone.
It was a morbid thought—and that in and of itself was what hurt Dick the most, because he knew his death would affect Jason irrevocably—but it was also a comfort when he zipped up the suit every night and headed out onto the streets to know that while Jason chose to rely on Dick, Jason didn't need Dick, and would forgive him if he messed up and got himself killed in the line of duty. The sentiment was two fold when Dick buttoned up his other suit in the mornings—the legal one—and Dick was infinitely grateful for Jason's broad shoulders when he got to bury his face into them once he got to strip the uniforms back off, much like Dick had done when they'd tumbled onto the dance floor, and much like Dick was half-doing as they danced.
Dick was careful not to cover his face, though, and left sightlines so that he could watch and observe their guests as he moved with Jason. While it was true that Dick saw most of the people around them on a semi-regular basis, it wasn't often that he got to see them in such a relaxed state for so long, and there were certainly people standing around and dancing that Dick didn't get to see nearly as often as Dick would have liked to, and it was nice to seem them so happy and smiling, even if Dick was a little too strung out from all of the work and hubbub to communicate and interact with them anymore.
Most of the non-superhero community had already left—the servers and a select few of Jason's and Dick's coworkers, neighbors, and previous teachers who'd come to more or less know Jason and Dick's secrets over the years (or at least enough of them to not be surprised by green-skinned young men and raven-haired middle-aged men shoveling five plates worth of food down their throats in less than half-of-an-hour)—but most of the superhero community still danced and laughed and reminisced around Jason and Dick.
Dick had talked to most of them already—had spent nearly forty-five minutes catching up with Kaldur alone some time after dessert, though others had interrupted them as they traded stories—but still…it was nice to see everybody so happy and carefree. Something kept nagging at the back of Dick's mind, though, no matter how comfortable Jason's arms felt, and after a couple of turns around the dance floor, Dick couldn't help but voice his thoughts aloud.
"You know," he pulled back to look up at Jason—just in time to catch the taller man's eyes turning to look down at him in interest—keeping his voice low enough that nobody else would be able to hear over the music and the clatter around them. "It's a shame that Lian isn't a little bit younger, or that Ollie and Dinah aren't a little bit closer. Even if Tim and Kon's…gift doesn't turn out to be too special, James isn't really going to have anybody to play with. I mean I know Ollie and Dinah will do their best at trying to keep him stimulated and entertained and really it's not going to matter for a couple of years anyway, but I just can't help but think…it's a shame he's going to be all alone…"
"You think so?" Jason's head quirked to the side in interest as he looked down at Dick with a look on his face that Dick couldn't name.
Dick hesitated for just a second, because he knew there was no going back after he said what he was about to say and maybe their wedding reception wasn't the best place to bring it up, but…
"Yeah," he nodded his head, looking down at Jason's tie before he directed his gaze back up to Jason's expectant face. "I do. It's actually something I've been thinking about for a while now. I never really had any siblings or family members until I got older, and…well…I kind of always felt left out. Things got better when I got into the superhero gig and I started hanging out with the other side kicks, but even still—it wasn't the same, not until you came along and then later Tim and Dami. And I just…I got to thinking…that maybe…"
"That maybe…?" Jason prompted with a gentle tug on Dick's hand when Dick trailed off, and Dick thought about bailing out—telling Jason it was nothing and changing the subject before Jason could argue—but one look up into Jason's eyes told Dick that Jason already knew where Dick was taking the conversation, and that both excited and terrified Dick beyond belief.
"Well, maybe…maybe if James had some little cousins running around with them…their lives wouldn't be so boring."
The words hung between the two of them for the moment, nearly palpable in the air as Dick worried he'd gone to far—that'd he overstepped some invisible boundary—until Jason half-chuckled and looked down at their touching chests.
"It's funny you should mention that."
"Why's that?" Dick couldn't help but ask as Jason trailed off.
"Well…" Jason met Dick's eyes for just a portion of a second before he looked away again. "I talked to Dr. Herbert about what it would take to come off of my birth control when I went to see him last week."
"Oh," Dick's eyes widened just the slightest bit in shock and realization as Jason still refused to meet them—but Dick knew that the younger man was cataloguing his every reaction. It wasn't very often that Dick was surprised, even if only because he was so used to the unexpected popping up, but Jason had always had a way of making it look like child's play. When Dick had considered the subject on his own and thought about bringing it up to Jason, he hadn't been expecting anything so immediate to come up. He'd merely meant that maybe it would be nice to plan to try have some kids a couple of years down the road, but Jason clearly had a different time line in mind. "You did?"
"I did," Jason nodded his head once in affirmation even though he didn't need to, keeping his voice low like Dick's as he did.
"And what did he say?" Dick asked hesitantly, mesmerized by Jason's eyelashes as he continued to study Dick's shoulder.
"That I could come off them anytime I wanted," Jason mumbled after a moment of biting his lip.
"He did?" Dick's feet skidded to a halt—stopping Jason's along with them—and Jason's eyes snapped back up to Dick's, Dick's gaze intent and impossible for Jason not to hold as Jason's word sunk in.
"He did," Jason nodded his head again, even if he didn't really need to, and Dick found comfort in the steadiness of his voice. "He's not one-hundred percent certain I'm going to be able to get pregnant—and the pregnancy will be considered a high-risk one if I do—but if the baby survives past the first trimester, developmentally speaking, it shouldn't have any problem making it to full term, or at least far enough along that it will survive."
All of that sounded wonderful and all, but—
"There's something you're not telling me."
It wasn't a question. Dick knew without a doubt that Jason was lying—or, more accurately, withholding part of the truth—and Jason didn't bother trying to deny it.
"He's not sure how my body's going to handle carrying a child…or the actual birth, for that matter," Jason looked away in shame, but Dick untangled his hand from Jason's and brought it up to Jason's chin, so Dick could guide Jason's gaze back to Dick's gently. "He—he doesn't know how I've gotten all my bruises and scars, but…he's not blind, either, and he knows that they're there. From everything he can see, all of my organs are functioning properly and they're all in their proper places, but there are some things that he's…concerned about. For one, the scar tissue in my abdomen will probably complicate things, and the endometriosis I have around my uterine cavity will be exceedingly painful as the baby grows and it starts to pull on everything that it's attached to. For another, Dr. Herbert is afraid that my pelvis won't be able expand like it's supposed to from where that dumbass broke it a couple of years ago, and I've re-broken it falling. And even if it expands far enough that I won't be in constant agony throughout the later stages of the pregnancy, Dr. Herbert seriously doubts it will expand far enough for a natural birth—and he is certain that a child with our genes is going to be big enough that things are going to have to expand…a lot"
"I don't like the sound of that," Dick pursed his lips in a half frown as he unexpectedly retook Jason's hand and started twirling them around the semi-crowded dance floor again. Dr. Herbert's concerns weren't anything that entirely surprised Dick—Dr. Herbert was an incredibly intelligent man, and Ra's had broken Jason's pelvis specifically with Jason's caste in mind—but still.
"It's not my favorite thing in the world either," Jason admitted as he looked away again before he looked back. "But, it's not something I have control over. There are other alternatives to natural births, and I can't get pregnant as it is on birth control. The only way we'll know for sure is for me to come off of it and try."
"That's true," Dick hummed in agreement, his eyes loosing focus for a minute as he got lost in his thoughts before they snapped back into use on Jason's as something occurred to him. "And your cysts?"
"There's always a chance that they'll come back, but I haven't had one in years," Jason explained as he seamlessly took over the lead of their dance with the swell of the music. Years previous, before Jason had started his current form of birth control, he'd developed incredibly painful cysts on his ovarian factories (organs similar to a human female's ovaries, situated on either side of an omega's uterine cavity, that produced and nurtured eggs until they were released upon mating—usually in a heat, those as Tim proved, that wasn't always the case) and had undergone two or three separate surgeries to remove the worst of them. A newly formulated birth control pill had gotten the cysts under control and kept new ones from forming, but Dick still remembered the days and nights he'd sat up with Jason in so much agony that the omega could hardly breathe, and Dick never wanted to go through a repeat of that again. "Dr. Herbert thinks I should be safe to come off of the meds long enough to go through a pregnancy—or at least long enough to figure out if I can even get pregnant in the first place —without too much risk of developing another one big enough to do any damage. Obviously, there's no guarantee, but Dr. Herbert doesn't see any harm in trying…if that's what we want to do…"
For some reason, voicing that last little bit stripped away what little confidence Jason had seemed to find, and he looked back down at the ground. Dick couldn't blame him this time, though, and Dick let the silence stretch on between the two of them for a moment or two while he organized his own thoughts on the matter. The last thing he wanted to do was say the wrong thing and break Jason's heart, but Dick also didn't want to give the omega false hope.
While it was true that Dick had always wanted kids—and wanted nothing more than to have a little child with Jason—there were a lot of things involved in the matter besides just actually having the kid, and Dick would be lying if he said Jason's health wasn't the first thing on his list of priorities.
Alternatively, it wasn't Dick's place to tell Jason what he could and couldn't do, and Jason wouldn't have asked Dr. Herbert the question if it wasn't something he was interested in doing.
"I—…" Jason didn't begrudge Dick the failed start as Dick wet his lips and tried again. "I guess I wouldn't be…opposed to the idea of fathering a child with you…"
"You wouldn't be opposed to the idea of father a child with me?" Jason's eyebrows shot up, as he licked his lips and looked down at Dick as if he couldn't believe what Dick had just said. "Really, Dick?"
"Yeah, okay," Dick conceded, feeling his cheeks burn with his embarrassment, as he looked away. "That's not exactly how I meant that to come out—"
"You think?" Jason gave soft snort and chuckled, but his eyes sparkled with mirth as Dick looked back up at him, so Dick just let it slide to the wayside.
"—But I stand by what I said," Dick forged on, as he pulled Jason that much tighter against his front. "I love you, Jay. I love you like crazy, and of course you know I want to have kids with you one day, especially our kids, but I don't think this is a decision that should be made with just one conversation… When I brought it up, I thought…I meant that we should start talking about it, and looking into what all it would entail. Obviously, you're a little ahead of the ball on that one, but still. The two of us having kids together isn't going to be an…easy thing, Jay. On top of all of that stuff that we have to worry about with you and your injuries and your genetics—and don't just tell me you'll be fine to soldier through the pain when you're not, because I will divorce you, Mr. Jason Peter Harper-Grayson-Todd-Drake-Wayne or whatever-the-hell-you've decided-to-call-yourself-for-the-moment. There are a lot of other things we have to take into consideration, and I would feel better if we had at least some kind of a plan to deal with them whenever they come up—"
"Tim's going to need something to do during his second…benching," Jason cut Dick off with another soft snort—he'd tried several times throughout Dick's speech actually, but this was the only one that had really gotten Dick's attention—and Dick raised one of his eyebrows in response.
"Second benching?" Dick questioned, before he let his eyes flick over the tables until he found said omega. Tim was curled up in Conner's lap, snoring—while Conner played absently and contentedly with the hair at the base of Tim's neck—and it was quite frankly the most relaxed Dick had seen either of them look in months. "Benching" was the code word that they had come to use in place of mentioning Tim's pregnancy when they were in public. Thankfully, the family had been using the code long enough for Dick and Jason to easily understand what the other meant, but it still felt a little weird rolling off of Dick's tongue. "What makes you think that Tim's going to be benched again? Tim hates being benched."
"Oh, please," Jason rolled his eyes as he switched his hold on Dick. "Tim hates not being able to do things. He loves being benched and he's going to love what comes as a product of him being benched, even if Conner's the one that's going to be dealing with most of the consequences. Tim will swear up and down for a couple of weeks that he's never getting benched again—or probably playing with Kon, if I know him—but I bet he'll have hurt himself within two weeks of being able to fit back into his suit again. Guaranteed. Coming up with contingency plans for all of the things that could possibly go wrong with our child should help keep him from going stir crazy while he's going through all of it again…at least for a couple of weeks…"
Dick hummed in agreement at the last part, but otherwise he was quiet for a moment, mulling Jason's words over in his head. Tim did hate being pregnant—the week or two leading up to the wedding had been more than enough proof of that—but then again, Dick knew his brother, and Dick knew how utterly devoted to Kon Tim was. As much as Dick hated to admit it…Jason had a point. Eventually, Dick schooled his features and looked back up at his husband.
"I'll take that bet," he declared with a smile on his face.
"Deal," Jason nodded his head once.
"But like I was saying, there are a lot of things that we need to worry about and take into consideration that other parents don't," Dick got back to the conversation at hand. "Once you get pregnant, our hormones are going to go through the roof, and we already have a hard time with jackass alphas trying to rape and mount you without having the added allure of eliminating another alpha's offspring in the mix. Are we mentally and physically prepared to lock you away in the apartment or the Manor somewhere so said jackasses don't try to kill you? What does this mean for the whole super secret vigilante thing? Obviously, the Red Hood is going to be out of commission for a couple of months, but what about Nightwing? Is he going to be taking some time off, too? Is the Red Hood quitting permanently? Is Bruce going to let us quit, or is he going to an annoying pain in the ass and withhold funding and sanctuary if we ask?"
"He better not," Jason's growl was immediate, but it was also quiet, and the music and laughter around them were too loud for anyone else to notice.
"I know," Dick was quick to let go of his own building anxiety at the prospect, and he tightened his grip on Jason's shoulder to emphasize the point that he'd made his choice between Bruce and Jason a long time ago. "And honestly, I don't think he will, but I want to know that before we just show up at the Manor one day saying we're moving in because you're pregnant."
"That's probably a good idea," Jason ground out in agreement a circuit around the dance floor or so later. "I might do something to the baby trying to rip Bruce's lungs out of his body…"
"Jason," Dick leveled him with a glare, but it was more annoyed than angered.
"If you think I'm going to just stand by while Bruce is a dick and withholds sanctuary from the two of us and by extension our baby when neither one of us have done anything to warrant it other than having the audacity to try to have a child together in the first place, you have another thing coming to you, oh dear husband of mine, because I will be smiling as I slit his throat and wrists and let all of the blood drain out of his body," Jason launched himself into a quiet rant. "There is nothing in this world that is more important to me than you or our potential child, Dick, and not even Bruce is going to get in the way of that. I love him, and we've worked through a lot of our problems now, and outside of that I don't really have any issues with him—but I will not allow him to harm our child and why the hell are you looking at me like that? I just freely admitted to happily killing Bruce!"
"You called me your husband," Dick squeezed Jason's hand as he beamed up at Jason and Jason gave a little sigh (which was equal parts relief, disbelief, and exasperation) as he finally relaxed back down against Dick's body again.
"Well, I thought that was kind of the whole point of getting married, Dickie-bird," Jason bumped his forehead against Dick's gently. "Or am I missing something?"
"No—no, you're not," Dick's smile fell into a more contemplative look as he continued to brush his forehead against Jason's, but it wasn't because his happiness had diminished. "I just wasn't expecting it is all. With all of this important talk, I had almost forgotten that we were even here, you know—at our own wedding? After everything we've been through…it's a little surreal."
"Surreal it is," Jason nodded his head, and Dick gave an internal sigh of relief that Jason had chosen to take the nostalgic route with that line of thought instead of one of the more depressing ones. Most of the time, Jason did fine, especially in matters that concerned Dick or one of their brothers, but he did have his bad days still, and more often than not, Bruce (or some ideal of his) was at the center of them. The sigh was quickly lost though, with the look in Jason's eyes, and Dick hardly knew what was happening before Jason is pulling their hands up in between them and pressing a kiss to Dick's knuckles.
"Jason," the name was breathless, and thankfully, Jason's resulting smirk brought Dick back down to earth just enough to make his feet work together again. "You keep that up and I'm not going to make it off this dance floor."
"That's a bad thing?" Jason tilted his head to the side and his eyes sparked with mirth and something that was uniquely akin to a cat noticing a shiny something to chase, but Dick could also see in the contours of Jason's face that Jason wasn't serious about the threat he'd just made.
"Considering I'm wearing a 'property of Jason Todd' embossed thong, I think it is," Dick grinned, bringing himself up onto his toes to nip and lick at Jason's lips, before he pulled back far enough to look up into Jason's eyes again. "But seriously, Jay—I'm perfectly okay with you killing someone because they threaten our child. I just think B's done enough for the both of us throughout our lives that he deserves a little bit of a heads up before we barge in—demanding that he walk on egg shells around us because we're stressed out because you're pregnant."
"Yeah…you're right…" Jason admitted after a couple of seconds of turning in silence and biting at his lip.
"See?" Dick pecked Jason's cheek before he fell back to the ground. "I knew you'd come around."
"Only because Bruce bought me that knew bike for my birthday," Jason muttered with a scrunched nose.
"Fair enough," Dick didn't push his luck, but he doubted that Jason really meant it.
"And," Jason added, but his body language had relaxed again. "I think you've got a really good point about those concerns of yours. I'm not saying I've changed my mind now, because I haven't, I still want to try to have a kid with you. But…I do think there's some merit to sitting down and figuring up some plans and having a couple more conversations first. I've been thinking about this for a while, and honestly, I don't want to push it off too too much longer because I don't want to be seventy years old and chasing around after some snot-nosed teenager…but I don't think a couple of months are going to make that much of a difference."
"I agree," Dick nodded his head. "Thank you, for talking to me about it in the first place."
"You're welcome," Jason responded, leaning down to press his warm lips to Dick's. "I'm sorry I talked to Dr. Herbert about it before I talked to you, but…I didn't want to get you excited until I knew what he was going to say."
"That's okay," Dick returned the kiss, but his eyes lost their smile as he pulled back far enough to rest their foreheads together so he could look up at Jason. "But, Jay?"
"Next time, take me with you, okay? I don't care how much you're worried about me. We're married now, and even more importantly than that we're mates. It's not just you that wants to comfort me and make me happy. It goes both ways and even if you're not comfortable with me going back into the room with the doctor, I want to be there at the office with you. Even if I'm stuck out in the waiting room making small talk with some nosey receptionist. You don't have to do this alone. I'm here. Okay?"
"Yeah, okay," this time it was Jason that was tearing up, and Dick wasn't even really sure where the words had ended and the kisses began, but it was beautiful—like coming home to a warm house after a long day at work—and Dick didn't want it to end. "I love you. You know that, right?"
"Yes, Jason," Dick smiled up at him from where there was barely a hair's breadth between them and Dick didn't even try to figure out when Jason's hands had made their way down to Dick's hips and Dick's had made their way up to the side of Jason's face and Jason's shoulder. He just pressed his lips back down to Jason's and didn't worry about letting go. "I know."