Late That Night
Dick's phone buzzed as he pulled into the hospital parking lot, and he looked at the screen to see Alfred's contact.
He swiped to answer the call. "Hi, Alfred."
"Master Dick! I hope that I am not interrupting anything."
"No, Alfred, not at all. I'm just getting back to the hospital. Uh, Devon has to have a procedure so she's – we're staying overnight. I'm just bringing stuff we need."
"Master Dick, I'm so sorry for your loss. I can never know how you feel, but I wanted you – and Miss Devon – to know that I am thinking of you both and praying for you."
Dick swiped at his eyes. "Thank you, Alfred."
"If you need anything – anything at all – please do not hesitate to call – or text, if you'd prefer."
"Thank you. I will."
"I had wanted to come to the hospital to support you, but –" Alfred paused, "Master Bruce thought it best to give you your privacy."
"It's hard – right now, Alfred. Devon is just – really torn up. I've never seen her like this." He sighed. "I guess I'm pretty torn up, too."
"It is quite understandable. You've gone through a tragedy, Master Dick. It shall take a very long time to recover, I'm certain."
Dick ran his fingers through his hair. "To be honest, Alfred, I don't know if we'll ever recover."
Dick, with a bracing breath, pasted an artificially bright smile on his face as he peeked into Devon's hospital room. "Knock, knock."
From her bed across the room, she wiped at her eyes.
"Well, hi, love." He came over to kiss her on the forehead. "The nurse said you were up. How are you feeling?"
She shrugged, and he continued with false jocularity. "I was hoping that you'd still be asleep. I didn't want you to wake to an empty room."
She shook her head. "It's okay."
He gave a slow nod. "Oh. Good." He cleared his throat. "Well, I brought you back some stuff." He set down the bag he had been carrying on the foot of the bed and began rummaging through it. "Okay. Um – toothpaste and brush. Check." He laid them next to her. "Deodorant. Not that you need it." He added hastily, and nearly stuck his head into the bag to hide embarrassment. "Uh. Slippers. Nightgown – although you might not be able to wear it – you know how hospitals love to make you wear the ones with the rear air-conditioning." He tried a grin, but it was lost on her.
He made a show of arranging the slippers on the ground where she could step into them, and put the nightgown in a drawer in the bedside table.
"I'll go put the other stuff in the – bathroom." He pointed at that room unnecessarily.
He caught a glimpse of himself in the bathroom mirror as he laid everything out carefully on the basin. The man who stared back at him looked tired – his eyes with dark circles beneath them, and a look that was both manic and melancholy.
He returned to Devon, determined to remain upbeat. "Are you hungry?"
She shook her head but remained silent.
"Did they deliver dinner while I was gone?"
"Was it good?"
"I didn't eat it."
"I wasn't hungry."
After a short silence, he continued as if she had not spoken. "I love cafeteria food. It kind of reminds me of the food that we used to eat in the circus. Mystery meat, some weird vegetable in artificial cream sauce…" He trailed off, sneaking a look at her from the corner of his eye before continuing. "One time, Bruce was in here when he broke his ankle – don't ask how that happened – " he looked at her knowingly, "and I was hungry, so I went down to the cafeteria, and they were serving seafood chowder – not clam chowder, mind you, just seafood chowder. And it smelled so good…" He paused for dramatic effect. "...that I had to eat a bowl. So, I ate it, and it was good. Really good." He pulled up a chair. "And, swear to God, I spent the next six hours in the bathroom." He smiled again. "And Tim called me every word for idiot in the book." He gave a short laugh. "Who knew that seafood chowder from a hospital cafeteria might not be the best choice?"
He waited for her reaction, but she remained silent, looking out the window at the street lights in the distance.
After a long moment, he reached out and took her hand, and she allowed him that.
"Love, come on, talk to me." She did not respond. "Maybe – maybe we can call your grandma and you can talk to her? Would you like that?"
At that, her head snapped to him. "No. Absolutely not."
He sighed. "Crap, Devon. Why?"
"Because I don't want her here, that's why."
"We're going to have to tell her sometime." This was a familiar argument.
"There's no rush, though, is there? I'm not going to be any less pregnant if we don't tell her for a couple days." She sighed, and slid her hand out of his. "I just don't want to see her right now, Dick. I don't want to see the sympathy on her face – or the pity." She saw that he was about to speak, and she forestalled him by raising a hand. "It's not that she's an ogre – or anything. I just – can't." She shook her head. "I don't know how to deal with this on my own, and I can't even think about dealing with it and her."
His expression was sad. "I get it, I guess. I – asked Bruce to tell Damian and Tim. I just couldn't bear to even think about talking to people either." He shrugged. "I guess it makes it more real – talking about it. I mean – I know that it's real, but if I can put off talking about it, maybe it'll give me a chance to cope."
She nodded. "I'll call her later tonight, if that will make you happy."
She gave a wistful smile and put her hand on his cheek. "At least now you won't have to marry me, since I'm not knocked-up."
He took her hand from his face and squeezed it. "Don't say that. That was never the reason for us to get married. It just changed the time frame, that's all." He brushed a wisp of hair from her forehead. "I love you. I have since the moment that I saw you – you know that. And nothing will change that. The baby was just the icing on the cake."
She looked at him briefly. "The seafood in the chowder?"
He laughed and took both her hands. "I'm kind of an idiot, aren't I?"
"Who eats seafood chowder at a hospital cafeteria?" She asked with a another small smile.
He colored. "But it was so good."
An hour later found Devon alone in her hospital room and Dick on his way to the cafeteria for coffee.
"No seafood chowder." She admonished, and he grinned and threw her a kiss as he left.
She looked down at the phone cradled in her hand, dreading calling her grandmother. There was so much that she had to say to her – and so much that she didn't want to say.
She sighed as the call connected and she could hear the ringing on the other end. After four rings, her grandmother answered.
"Hello?" The voice on the line asked.
Tears came to Devon's eyes when she heard her grandmother's voice. "Grandma?"
"Devon, what is it?" Marie could hear the anguish in her granddaughter's voice.
"Grandma, I lost the baby."
There was a long silence before her grandmother responded. "Are you all right? Where are you?"
Devon wiped her eyes. "At the hospital."
"I – I started bleeding this morning."
Her grandmother was silent for a long moment before speaking again. "I'm coming to the hospital."
"What?! No, Grandma, do not come."
"What? Why not?"
"I don't want you to say anything about my – condition."
"Bah! I haven't said anything for twenty years! What makes you think that I'm going to start?"
"I just – can't take the chance."
Her grandmother scoffed but said nothing else, and Devon continued. "I'll come see you when I get out, okay? We – we have to talk, anyway."
"Fine. Whatever." Marie's voice was tight.
"Grandma, don't be mad."
"I'm not mad."
Devon frowned. "What? Just disappointed?" Her voice was bitter.
Her grandmother sighed. "Don't worry about it. I'll get over it. Just – take care of yourself."
Devon's ire melted away. "I love you, Grandma. You know that, right?"
"I love you, too. Devon, I'm so sorry about the baby. Really."
The tears threatened again. "I know, Grandma. Thank you."
Dick heard from Tim as he was in the cafeteria pouring creamer into his cup of coffee. A text came through, and he looked at his phone.
Hey, Dick, Bruce told me about the baby. I'm really sorry, bro.
Dick carried his cup over to a table. Thanks, brother. He responded.
How is Devon?
She's not taking it well.
Tell her I'm really sorry.
I called Wally. Is there anyone else?
No one else really knows about the baby.
Okay. If there's anything else you need me to do, just let me know. I'm here for you.
Thanks. I will.
Dick put the phone in his pocket with a sad sigh.
The Next Morning
Damian carried his snorkeling mask and fins from the ocean and tossed them onto the sand before throwing himself down on a large towel. "Mother! Guess what I saw!"
His mother, who reclined on a nearby chaise lounge, dressed in a long caftan and a floppy, wide-brimmed hat, looked up from reading through documents on her phone. "What did you see, Darling?"
"A sea turtle! It swam right up to me!"
She smiled indulgently. "I knew that this was a good spot for snorkeling."
"I thought that I saw a sting ray, as well, but it swam away too quickly for me to follow."
Talia's brows rose. "Shall I have some brought in and released for you to swim with, dearest?" She turned to Ubu, her personal guard, who stood nearby. "Ubu! Damian wishes to swim with sting rays. Procure them for him!"
Damian held up a hand. "No, Mother, please. There's no need."
She frowned. "But you said that you would like to swim with them."
"And I will, if I see one again."
"But I can assure that."
Damian resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "Mother, it's only special if it's by chance."
She looked at him in confusion. "I – I don't understand. If I can assure you the presence of sting rays, Darling, why shouldn't I?"
"Because it is not then by chance, Mother."
She looked at him without understanding, then finally shrugged. "If that is your will."
"Let's speak of other things, then."
She searched for a safe topic. "So," she began, with a smile pasted on her face, "as you have requested, we are having pizza for dinner."
Damian suddenly brightened. "Thank you, Mother! Have you found a pizzeria on the island?"
She looked confused. "No, of course not. I have had a chef flown in from Italy."
Damian blinked. "Oh, well. Th – thank you, Mother."
"Of course, darling. Whatever you like. I am told that the chef brought – I believe it is called pepperoni?"
"Yes, it's called pepperoni. It's a cured meat made primarily from pork."
Talia gave a weak smile. "Sounds – delicious."
Damian was about to continue when his phone, in his beach bag, rang. His face lit up when he saw his father's contact. "It's Father!" He eagerly swiped the screen to answer the call. "Father!"
"Hello, Damian. How are you?"
"Oh, Father, I'm having a wonderful time! I just snorkeled with a sea turtle! I believe it was a green sea turtle, although it could have been a loggerhead. I'm not certain, but I know that it was not a leatherback! Their shells are quite distinctive."
"I take that to mean that you are still in the Bahamas. I thought that you were going back to Spain with your mother."
Talia, although she could not hear Bruce's end of the conversation, still appeared quite interested, laying down her phone to look at her son.
Damian turned his back on his mother. "We've decided to leave Sunday because of a winter storm in the Alicante region. I wouldn't mind staying here for a bit longer, though. I understand that one can swim with dolphins and sharks."
"Ah, I'd prefer that you not swim with sharks, Damian."
"I swim with sharks every time that you and I go out on patrol!" He smiled at his own joke.
Bruce obediently laughed. "Very clever. However, real sharks are a different matter."
Damian pouted for a moment. "Fine. No sharks. I do want to swim with dolphins, though."
"That's all right. Dolphins aren't likely to eat you."
"That's true. I've heard tales of dolphins actually saving drowning victims – although," he hastened to add, "I am an excellent swimmer, and will have no need of a dolphin rescue."
"I know that you are, Damian. I'm very proud that you're so comfortable in the water."
Damian's chest puffed in pride. "Perhaps we can swim more in the pool at the manor when I come home. I enjoy one-on-one water polo."
"I'd like that."
"We can even let Grayson and Drake play on our teams. I'll take Grayson."
"That's a good idea. But, Damian, speaking of Dick..."
There was a sense of foreboding in Damian's heart. "What is it? Is he well?"
"He's fine – physically."
Damian scrambled to his feet and paced away from his mother. "What do you mean? Father, you're scaring me. What has happened? Is he well?"
Bruce sighed. "Devon had a miscarriage."
Damian put a hand to his face. "When?"
"Yesterday morning?! Why am I only hearing of this now? And why didn't Grayson call me himself?" He moved farther from his mother and Ubu so that they could not eavesdrop.
"He asked me to call yesterday, but I wasn't sure where you were, Damian, and didn't want to call you too late in the day."
He dropped his hand. "I'll have Mother's jet fly me home today. Tell Grayson that I'm coming."
"Damian, you do not have to come home. There is no need."
"No need?!" Damian was incredulous. "Grayson and Devon both need me!"
"You are not to interrupt your vacation with your mother. Dick would be angry if you came home simply because of this."
"Simply because of this?!" Damian repeated, incensed. "My brother and the woman that he loves have lost their child! My niece or nephew! Of course I'm coming home!"
"Damian, you just told me that you're having a wonderful time. You haven't even swum with the dolphins yet."
"Father, I am coming home with or without your permission."
"This is your time with your mother. She will not be pleased."
"I'm not a prisoner. I can do what I like. Besides, she knows that, if she tried to stop me, I would simply find another way home."
Bruce sighed again, in defeat. "Fine. What will you tell your mother? You can't tell her about the baby – that's part of Dick's private life. He won't want her to know."
"I don't need to give her a reason. I will tell her that I am going home because I want to."
"I doubt that will work."
"Leave the details up to me, Father."
"Maybe I should talk to her first."
"Don't be ridiculous. I don't need your help talking to my own mother!"
"Fine." Bruce said again. "Let me know when your plane arrives and I'll have Alfred meet you at the airport."
"Thank you, Father. Tell Grayson and Devon that I will be there soon."
"I will. Remember, don't tell your mother about the baby. "
Damian stamped his foot, which, since he was standing on sand, lost its effect. "Father! I know! I'm not simple!"
"I know, Damian. I'll – see you soon."
They ended the call, and Damian turned to his mother and Ubu, who were both watching him with great interest.
"How is your father?" Talia asked quietly.
"He's fine." Damian walked over to grab his mask and fins, and spoke to Ubu. "Have the plane fueled and made ready within the hour. I leave for Gotham immediately."
"What?!" Talia surged up.
Damian turned to her, his chin raised pugnaciously. "My father needs me, and I am going home."
Talia's eyes widened. "No! You are not!"
Damian's eyes narrowed. "Yes. I am. Father needs me."
"Your father is manipulating you, Damian. He is trying to take you away from me! He's jealous!"
"That's not true! He needs me!"
She scoffed. "Your father needs no one, least all of a ten year-old boy!"
Damian's face became suffused with red. "You're wrong!" He turned to Ubu. "Get the jet ready now!"
Talia held her hand up. "Ubu, do not move!"
Damian glared at his mother. "Fine! I will take an Uber to the airport and fly home on a commercial airline!"
"You will not! No son of mine will fly commercial – like – like – a peasant!"
"You cannot stop me!" He started for the house.
"Hafid Al Ghul! You will not turn your back on me!"
At the use of his birth name, Damian stopped and rotated on his heel to look at his mother. She stood there, anxiety and sadness on her face, and his shoulders slumped. He had never seen his usually confident mother so uncertain.
When he spoke, his voice was soft. "Mother, I have to go. Please understand. It's important."
"But our time together is also important." Her voice was uncharacteristically thin.
"Yes, I know."
She was silent a long time, then gave a firm nod. "If it is – your will, you – you may go – but not until tomorrow. We shall have our – pizza dinner together, as we had planned. Is that amenable to you?"
He looked at her for a long while. "Yes, it is. Thank you, Mother. I will return to you as soon as I can so that we may continue our vacation." He drew himself up to his full height. "I give you my word – as a Wayne and as an Al Ghul."
Later That Day
Dick sat in the waiting room of the hospital's outpatient surgical unit, anxiously doing just that.
Devon had been wheeled through a wide pair of double doors more than a hour before, and, although the doctor had warned him that, from beginning to end, the surgery might take two hours or more, he was worried. He knew that he shouldn't be; Dr. Collins had assured them that the procedure was very routine, and that all would be well. Still, he was, naturally, concerned, and, when an alert sounded on his phone, he eagerly read it, grateful for a distraction.
It was Wally.
Hi, Dick. Tim called me. Artemis and I just wanted to tell you and Devon how sorry we are.
Tears started to form. Thanks, buddy.
If you need anything or just want to talk, let me know. I'll be there in less than a heartbeat.
I know. Thanks. I'm just trying to get through today. Devon is having a procedure right now at the hospital.
Shit. Do you want me to come and just hang with you?
No, I'm okay. She should be out soon.
Are you sure you don't want me to come?
No, it's okay. I don't really feel like talking.
Wally got the message. Okay. Let me know if you need ANYTHING. Really.
Dick gave a deep sigh as he ended the conversation. He was so drained by everything that had happened in the previous 24 hours that talking about it, or even texting about it, just seemed to exhaust him even further.
He had not felt like this before with his friends and family – he had always found it easy to be open with them. He had shared triumph and tragedy with them. They had cried with him over Jason's death, and they had grieved together when Wally had disappeared, but this – this was different.
This was like when he had lost his parents. After it had happened, he had not shared the pain with anyone – not even Bruce. When he had arrived at Wayne Manor, all those years before, he had been sullen and quiet, and even though he had known that Bruce had suffered the same loss, he had not spoken about his family's death other than his own need for justice. Bruce had never dogged him on the decision to remain silent, nor had he ever pressured him to talk.
It was only years later, when Dick had come to accept Bruce and Alfred as his new family, that he had been able to speak of his parents' death to them.
Now, however, he felt as he had back then. Not wanting to speak of the loss. Keeping the emotions inside.
The only person that he felt he could speak to about it was Devon, and she had made it abundantly clear that she did not want to talk about it. So, the emotions would remain hidden.
The room came into focus slowly, and Devon rubbed at her eyes. There was an intravenous line in the back of her hand, and she looked at it blearily.
A figure approached in her peripheral vision.
"Hey, love." Dick's voice was soft, and he smiled at her as he pulled a chair to her side.
"Is it – is it done?"
He nodded sadly. "Yeah."
"Can we go home now?"
The smile returned. "Not yet. The doctor hasn't been to see you yet. You're still in the recovery room."
She nodded and noticed, for the first time, the automatic blood pressure cuff on her arm. "Did my blood pressure go high or something?"
"I think it's just a standard thing. The nurse was in a couple of minutes ago, and she didn't say anything about it being high."
Devon nodded and closed her eyes. She felt very fuzzy, and she was developing a headache. Closing her eyes, though, brought thoughts of the baby back to her, and she opened them. "I'm thirsty."
He looked around for a glass or pitcher with water, but found nothing. "Uh, I don't know if you're allowed water yet. I can – go find out, I guess."
"Thanks." She felt like a horrible person, but she didn't want to be with him at that moment. Seeing him made her feel guilty – guilty for losing the baby, guilty for lying to him, and guilty for bringing pain – too much pain – into his life.
He came back a few minutes later with a plastic cup full of water, which he set on a small table next to her bed. "The nurse said it's okay." He helped her to sit up, and held the water to her lips.
She drank thirstily, and he lay her back down after she was done. "Thank you so much."
He kissed her forehead. "That's what I'm here for."
Her eyes fluttered shut, and, with a sigh, he sat down to wait. He'd been doing that a lot lately, but he didn't mind. He knew that love – and family – were both hard work, and required many hours of attention. He could wait. He'd been taught by the best, after all, of the value in watching and waiting.
Devon drifted in and out of sleep for the next half hour, and Dick spent the time reading work documents on his phone.
There was a knock on the door, and Dr. Collins appeared. "How's the patient?"
He looked over at Devon. "Still sleeping."
"Hmm. I'd like to let her sleep, but I kind of have to check how she's doing." She gave a sheepish smile.
He nodded. "I'm sure she'll understand."
She gently shook Devon, who woke up with a start.
"Oh, hi, Dr. Collins." She rubbed her eyes.
"How are you feeling?"
The doctor chuckled. "We'll get you into a room soon, I promise."
"Soon. How's your pain? Scale of 1 to 10?"
"Four, I guess?"
"Not bad. You want anything for that?"
Devon shook her head as Dr. Collins pulled her vital statistics up on the tablet she carried. "Your surgery went well – as expected. Post-op, your blood pressure is pretty normal. Let's take a listen to your lungs."
She declared Devon's lungs clear and, after checking her breathing, temperature, and pulse, she checked for excessive bleeding.
"Everything looks okay." She smiled afterwards, and pulled off her exam gloves.
"When can I be discharged?"
"Later today." She pulled up a stool. "I know that you both must have some questions, so I want to tell you what's going on, and what's going to happen in the near future."
Dick and Devon looked at each other, and she reached out her hand, which he took in his own.
"There are some things I want to talk about." The doctor began. "Your HCG levels are a little higher than I expected after a D and C, and after a miscarriage."
"Wh – what does that mean?"
"It might be nothing."
"Could it also be – not nothing?" Dick asked apprehensively.
"Well, it could be."
"L – like what?" This came from Devon.
"Well, we sometimes see this when there's fetal tissue left in the uterus, but that's not the case here."
"Okay..." Devon said slowly.
"It could be because of a blighted ovum or a placental abnormality or even a tumor."
Devon's heart jumped, and she squeezed Dick's hand. "Do – do I have a tumor?"
"No." The doctor hastened to reassure her. "I don't think you have any of those. But I also think it's a good idea to monitor it, and to try to level it out – and keep it leveled."
"How do you do that?"
"Well, we monitor it by taking blood samples a couple times a month for a while, and we level it out by putting you on hormones for the next year or so."
"Basically, birth control pills." She smiled at them both. "Which will give you guys some time to plan your wedding, and for you," she nodded towards Devon, "to wear a non-maternity wedding dress."
"So, no baby for the next year?" Dick asked.
"Right. But after that, provided everything stays normal, you can try again."
"And I shouldn't have any problem getting pregnant?" Devon asked.
"And what about carrying a baby to term?" Devon continued.
Dr. Collins gave a small shrug. "There doesn't appear to be anything that would indicate that you'll have a problem."
"But you can't guarantee it?"
"Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in life."
Devon looked down. "No, I guess not."
"But no practicing for the next six weeks." Dr. Collins smiled.
"Huh? What?" This caught Dick's attention.
"No intercourse for six weeks." The doctor clarified.
Dick's brows rose. "Right. Yeah. Of course." He smiled weakly at Devon. "No problem."
Author's Notes: Thank you for reading! I hope that the weekend finds you all well! Some notes on this chapter - I try to incorporate actual life experiences, and some of my own drifted into this chapter - I'll let you figure out which ones.
A note on Damian's name - for the first time, in the comics, Damian's birth name is mentioned, which is, apparently, Hafid Al-Ghul. Hafid, according to someone who attempted translation, means either "protector" or "grandson." I prefer protector. I think it fits Damian, since he is so fiercely protective of, and loyal to, his family. It's also very amusing, since, as the youngest and smallest member of the Bat family, one would think that he NEEDS protection, rather than provides it.
Another note on YJ, season 3 - The first still pictures came out this week (or were leaked) of an episode featuring Conner being attacked by some creature (what else is new - except that it's a lava creature?). I can't wait!
Also, I have apparently lost my beta reader, so, if anyone is interested (or in beta reading my Avatar fanfic), let me know! : )
Thanks again, and favorite/review if you are able!