Learn To Love Chapter 01: Nice Guys Finish Last
Disclaimer: I don't own Batman or anything I might make references to.
Author's Note: This story has been in the works for a long time now. At first I just started writing it as an outlet for my anger, but now I actually want to post it. As you read it, you might notice something about the chapters. Just a little something I threw in for fun. And if you don't notice it, don't worry; it's not important.
This is the story of one of the most painful times in my family's life. Until now, I thought that losing a person was the most painful thing I could go through, but I was wrong. Almost losing someone is much worse. Because then you're stuck with the feeling of how you're ever going to prevent this from happening again. And this wasn't the kind of thing you can prevent by cracking down harder on criminals. No, the cause of this incident is forever living inside our hearts. This near-death experience was the result of emotion. And emotions cannot be arrested, cannot be incarcerated, cannot be sentenced, and cannot be killed.
This motive of death will always exist, and that's what scares me. This could happen to any one of us at any point in our lives, and there's no way to see it coming.
For the first time in a while, all three of my sons are together under the roof of Wayne manor. The night is cold, the crime rate is low, and the evening is proving pretty uneventful.
It's not often I can have a peaceful night with my family.
I am sitting comfortably in a chair by the fireplace, reading the newspaper. Dick and Damian are sitting on the floor, petting the dog, Titus. Tim is over in the corner by the bookshelves, reading something while standing up. It doesn't take a detective to tell that he's deliberately avoiding playing with his brothers.
Tim and Damian haven't gotten along since day one, and it pains me. I never say it, but nothing would make me happier than if my three sons could all hang out together, maybe throw a football around in the yard, and Alfred and I could watch from the window as they laughed and played together, like brothers should.
But I suppose that's asking too much. It should be enough that I have sons in the first place, whether I wanted them to come into my life or not. And I am grateful to have all three of them. They give my life meaning.
I excuse myself for a moment to go into the kitchen, where Alfred is cleaning up after dinner. I stand in the doorway and watch him, and then heave a tired, but happy, sigh.
"Is it not time to begin this evening's patrol, Master Bruce?" my butler asks.
"Not for another half-hour," I say.
"What brings you to the kitchen?" he asks playfully.
"I'm just so happy to have them," I admit softly. I'm so fucking happy, I could cry. "They're all safe, and alive, and here with me. And they're not fighting, that's a big plus."
"Yes, Master Bruce. Moments like these do not come too often. It's best we savor them," Alfred confirms.
As if immediately jinxed, we suddenly hear a THUNK, followed by the dog barking.
"I DIDN'T DO IT!" I hear Tim yell.
"What the f-?" I censor myself, trudging back into the living room. The coffee table is on its side, Damian is on his back (obviously he tripped backwards over the table), and Dick is lying helpless under Titus's humongous body and long legs, laughing his head off.
"OW! You clumsy oaf! What the fuck were you trying to do?" yells Damian.
"What happened?" I groan, pulling Titus by the collar off of Dick, and helping him to his feet.
"Damian was holding out his hand for Titus to sniff, and then Dick slapped him on the butt, which startled Titus, and he kind-of leaped forward and knocked Damian backwards over the table," Tim explains.
"Ha, ha, ha!" I chuckle, propping the table right-side up.
"It wasn't funny, Father!" growls Damian, picking himself up and cracking his back.
"I'm sorry, son. Are you alright?" I ask.
"Fine," he grumbles. "Oh, shut up!" he shouts at Dick, who is still laughing.
"I'm sorry! It was funny!" he insists between giggles.
"Screw you!" Damian huffs before stomping away and going upstairs.
"Oh for crying out-" mutters Dick. "Damian, come back! I'm sorry!" The apology is completely insincere, as it should be, but he follows my young son anyway.
"It was mostly Dick's fault," Tim says, putting his book back on the shelf and walking over to me with his hands in his pockets.
"I know," I say. "Could you get the two of them back down here? We've got to get ready for patrol soon."
"Sure," Tim sighs. I immediately realize that I shouldn't have asked him to do that, and I should have just done it myself. He really hates interacting with Damian. But it's too late now, he's already halfway up the stairs.
Damian is pouting on his bed, which is really retarded now that I look at it; it's just a mattress, wide enough for one person, and his pillow is a cylinder, which leads me to believe that he can't really lie on his side, and I'm thinking…that's got to be pretty uncomfortable, right?
Anyway, I touch his shoulder and he growls without looking at me.
"I'm sorry, D," I say humorously. It's not the nicest apology, but I think he's taking this way too personally. "It was an accident, alright?"
"Yeah, yeah. It hurt, you know?"
"What did? Falling over the table or me laughing at you?" This time he does turn to look at me, and it's not a nice look. "OK, OK. Is your back alright?" I ask, lifting up his shirt to check for a bruise. Obviously he doesn't see this coming, as he gets really touchy at this.
"What are you doing?" he cries, quickly standing up and backing away from me.
"Checking for a bruise! Gosh! Have an aneurism!" I say.
"I doubt there's a bruise. I fell flat, I didn't hit anything," he says. I lift my hands up in defeat.
Damian allows his facial features to soften and sits back down on the bed. I join him and wrap my arm around his shoulder.
"I'm glad we can at least spend some time together, you know?" I say. He nods. I smile and snake my other arm around his waist, and pull him on top of my torso as I lie down.
"What are you doing?" he cries angrily.
"Shush," I say softly, cuddling him close to me. "Just hold still a sec." He grumbles, but allows me to hug him for a minute.
"Never knew you're such a funny guy," he mutters. I think it's his lame attempt at making a joke. Or maybe he was just being sarcastic, because everyone knows I'm a funny guy.
END OF CHAPTER 01
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