Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters in this story. They are property of DC comics.
Author's Note: This is my first attempt at writing a Batman story. I have been a fan of the Bat Family for years, but up until now I have felt like I don't deserve to write Batman fan fiction because I haven't been a fan as long as other people. The dream that is mentioned in this story is based off of a dream I had once. I often have dreams involving The Creeper from the Jeepers Creepers movies. I call them Creeper Dreams. Sometimes they're scary, sometimes they're fun. In this case, it was scary.
Holy crap, what a night, I think to myself as I practically collapse onto my bed. I am going to enjoy this. I slowly kick off my socks and pants, take off my shirt and toss them aside. I turn off my bedside lamp, get under the covers, and go to sleep.
At least, I try to go to sleep. I keep hearing the squeaking of the floorboards just outside my room. I can't imagine who would be walking around at this hour, but I figure whoever it is has to stop at some point.
After about ten minutes of listening to squeaking floorboards, I listen harder, and I can tell that someone is pacing in the hallway. Who would be pacing in the hallway in the middle of the night? Honestly, if you live in this house, and you're up at this hour, you're most likely working on a case or something. Which would mean you'd be in the Batcave. What work could you possibly get done by just pacing back and forth in the hallway?
Since I can't answer those questions for myself, I groan, drag myself out of bed, and go see what's up. Or rather, who's up.
The hallway is dark, but I can see a faint shape of a person wandering around. It's Damian. It has to be, because no one else who lives here is that short. With his arms folded across his abdomen, he slowly walks a few feet in one direction, then he turns around and walks back.
"Can't sleep?" I ask him.
"Obviously not," he retorts, in his stuck-up tone. "I thought perhaps I might burn up some energy walking around out here." I nod, yawn, and rub my eyes.
"Bad dream?" I didn't even mean to say that; it just came out. I guess it was instinct. That's usually what you ask a ten-year-old when he's up in the middle of the night. Then again, since when do I have that instinct? And towards Damian of all people? I am able to think that entire sentence to myself before he answers. Probably because he is reluctant to do so.
"Yeah," he said tiredly. I'm practically going to fall asleep standing up, leaning against the wall, so I must be doing and saying things in a very sleep-deprived state. Because I have no reason to care whether Damian has good or bad dreams.
"What happened in it?" I ask softly. He stops walking and unfolds his arms.
"Well, I don't remember it exactly," he begins. Before he can keep talking, I invite him into my room. Once again, I don't know why I'm doing this; don't I hate this kid?
"Come here," I say. He slowly follows me into my room and sits down on the bed. I turn on my lamp again, and in the light I can see that he has been crying. His face is wet and his eyes are red.
"Um, it started out, on like, a deserted highway. It was dusk. And there were all these, like, mounds of dirt on the side of the road. And they were graves. Like, people had been buried there," he explains. I nod. "And, there was this weird creature, kind-of like a demon; he had a bald head and pointy ears. He walked on all fours and he killed people."
"Uh-huh," I say.
"And, we tried to kill it. Him, it. The demon," he stutters. "Um, you were there, so was Dick. We were like, trying to kill this monster," he tells me. "And we couldn't, because he was immortal. And we were like 'Why don't you use your immortality to do good things? You should be using your powers for good, not evil!' And of course, he didn't listen. That's all I remember. But it was pretty scary."
"So are you afraid if you go back to sleep, you'll have the same nightmare?" I ask. Somehow that story perked me up. I'm more alert now. Able to hold a conversation again.
"No," he answers. "I just can't sleep. I don't know why."
"Do you feel any better now that you've talked about it?" I ask. He takes in a deep breath, thinks for a moment, and finally sighs.
"Good," I say. "Is there anything else you want to talk about?" I can see his eyes starting to tear up again. His face slowly changes from flesh-color to red.
"I don't want to go back to sleep," he says in a cracking voice. He wipes his eyes with his oversized pajama sleeve.
"Hey, it's OK," I say, gathering him into my arms. "You don't have to do anything. You can just sit there and be scared all night if you have to." I release him from the hug quickly, as I don't know if he likes it or not. Damian has never been a very huggy person. Then again, I've never seen him cry before, either. I peel back my bed sheets, inviting him to lie down with me. If he wants to.
"Can I stay here for a bit?" he asks softly. Like he's afraid he'll offend me if he speaks any louder.
"Sure," I say, getting back under the covers myself. He crawls over to me and lies down on the left side of my bed, curled up as if he's frightened that if he stretches out his limbs, the monster from his dream will grab one of them and pull him away. He takes in another shaky breath and closes his eyes.
"Thanks." I turn off the lamp, and roll back over to face Damian. He's so tense he's not even technically lying down; he's clenched up all his muscles, and he's tipped over sideways on the bed. But he's not letting himself sink into the mattress. I stretch out my arm and pull him a little closer to me. He seems to find comfort in that. He uncurls his arms from where they have been pressed up against his chest, and presses his left hand up against my chest, and wraps his right arm around me. His face is right up against my neck, and I can feel him whimpering ever-so-lightly.
Before I can even think about what I'm doing, I lean down and kiss him on the forehead. Why did I do that? What could have possibly possessed me to do that? I hate this kid and he hates me! Why am I being so nice to him?
I know the reason. I've always known, I just don't want to admit it. I am instinctively protective of Damian. Even if I don't want to be, I don't really have a choice. Like Dick, he's not related to me, but he's still my brother. For the first time in my life, I'm the big brother. I have to be there for him. This must be what Dick feels like all the time. It's actually kind-of a nice feeling; being responsible for someone younger than you. And not just responsible for his safety, but responsible for his mental state as well. To comfort someone who needs it. It's a pretty good feeling.
I intend to let Damian sleep here the whole night. I'm pretty sure that's what he has in mind, too, he just asked to stay here for "a bit" so as not to come off as needy and bothersome. He needs to know that he's not a burden to me, but I can't tell him right now, since he's finally fallen asleep. Maybe I won't need to tell him. Maybe he'll just know.
"I love you, Damian," I whisper. And that time, I did know what possessed me to do that.
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