Title: Thought That Counts
Summary: Words can cut deeper than the sharpest sword. Fixing what he broke with words is harder than Damian thought.
A/N: For pekuxumi, who requested Damian going too far with something he says, Dick reaching the limit of his patience and giving up, and Damian lost and regretful. My apologies, for taking ever so long getting this done. This also ended up a lot more... fluffy, than anticipated. Un-beta'd, because I don't have my bf to read over this, and thus all mistakes are mine and free to be pointed out so I can fix them. Enjoy?
Disclaimer: Love to, but can't say I own Batman, or any DC characters.

Damian lurks in the background, shadows cloaking him, sticking to him like they do to his father, something genetic probably. He'd be almost impossible to see, if he hadn't been barely sticking his head around the corner, staring and staring, lost and unsure of how to proceed.

He's been like that for an hour, and Dick's been steadily ignoring him for the entirety of it, watching the screens, searching, while keeping his eyes off the sliver of Damian that reflects off the monitors every time he pokes his head out.

Tim every so often glances at him, by his side and typing at speeds that can't be considered human, caught somewhere between a sort of pleasure that Dick isn't insisting on including the demon-child with their work, and pure concern at this very out of character behavior. Tim's been giving him the same kind of look for two weeks now, and Dick's getting a little tired of it.

"Wait. Enlarge the lower left screen, I think I saw something."

Tim does so, and that's when they both hear a tiny sound from behind them.


Dick doesn't turn around. Tim maturely manages to refrain as well, because he heard contempt in Damian's voice, and he's never responded well to it. The only sign that he noticed was the quick, puzzled glance shot in Dick's direction, fast — but not fast enough to miss.

"You think that's him?"

"No, but after staring at five simultaneous videos for nearly an hour, my neck hurts. I decided to pick the most suspicious looking guy and see how that lead from there. It just so happens that he looks a lot like the guy we suspect of the Castle St. Murder, arson of the Church near Amusement mile, and jaywalking on at least five streets."

Tim raises an eyebrow and there's something of an air of amusement around him, but no comment is made as he expertly pulls up numerous files on the man; who he is, what he does, and where he's last been via credit card charges. They study the files, and it's a dull affair, interrupted only by Damian's annoyed but quiet sounds, and the hum of the computer. Tim absorbs the data faster than Dick does, and he's scribbling something on some paper when Damian makes his disappearance, a soft sound of boots hitting the floor, leaving in a huff.

They wait. Tim, until he knows there's no one listening. Dick, for Tim to ask what's been on his mind for a while now.

Five, ten, fifteen minutes pass. Then Tim puts down his pen, and Dick resigns himself to a conversation he's really not interested in.



"Something's been up with you and Damian," Tim says, "And while I know he's a prick, you usually don't agree. This cold shoulder thing you're giving him, it isn't like you."

"I can't be mad at someone, Tim?" Dick responds flatly.

"Not like this. Not to family, though I still don't fully agree that Damian deserves that title."

"You've evidently haven't seen some of my arguments with Bruce."


"It's..." Dick sighs. "It's... Don't worry about it, Tim."

A day later and Dick finds himself wrapping cuffs around their suspect, who was in the midst of attempting to slit some poor kid's throat with a very shiny knife, though the man insists that he was very much not attempting first degree murder and really, who does that even, and oww, those cuffs are on just a little tight you spandex wearing freak —

As Dick's slamming the guy against the wall, mostly because he's not interested in hearing what the guy's excuses for almost killing a child, there's the sound of someone approaching. Calm, near silent footsteps, and the slight sound of a cape, resisting the pull of the wind. Dick expects Tim, but when he glances behind him, it's not the sight of Red Robin that greets him.

"Robin," Dick greets with all the cheerfulness of a cemetery.

"Nightwing." Damian says, the name falling off his tongue wary, and a trifle put out. "This is the scum we've been looking for, I presume?"

"Unless you see anyone else around here with a deadly weapon, then yes, that's a very accurate presumption." Dick responds, flatly. "Did you need something, Robin? I'm a little busy right now."

"...I simply came down to offer my assistance." Damian mutters. "I can see that you don't require it."

"No," Dick answers, dragging away the criminal in the general direction of Gotham's police department. "But thank you for offering."

Damian fidgets oddly for a minute, his hand twitching like he's meaning to reach out and grab something, before he makes an almost painful looking frown and stalks away. Dick doesn't stop to watch where he's headed.

Tim wakes up from a rare night off to a rapid pounding on his bedroom door. He's very much inclined to ignore it, just tune it out like white noise and fall back onto his pillow because he can already determine it's not from someone he lists as important; Alfred knocks sharply but in a calm manner, and then just lets himself in if need be, Dick typically yells his name and/or bursts through if he's particularly excited, and Bruce doesn't bother with doors.

But the pounding persists, and Tim just doesn't have the conscious to not at least hear the demon child out, because the hate they have at each other is mutual enough that they avoid crossing paths as much as they can, and Tim's sleep has never been something Damian has tried to sabotage. So it's possible whatever Damian wants, it's of some sort of importance. At the very least, he can always slam the door in the kid's face if he doesn't like what he says.

So with all the reluctance he can dredge up at the hour, Tim pulls himself up and out of his bed, and crosses his room to the door.

The poundings don't stop until the door is flung open, leaving Damian with his fist still raised, his face morphing from distinctly annoyed to mildly surprised and... still annoyed that Tim actually answered.

"What is it." Tim can't even find the energy to sound civil. It's the brat's fault for waking him up, and apparently right after patrol? Tim can see the shirt and pants that Damian typically wears underneath his Robin costume, which are usually discarded for cleaning down in the cave and not brought up into the manor.

"I..." And this is where Damian falters, little bits of insecurities are showing and he's very obviously angry at himself for having them. "I am forced to... toaskforyourhelp."

"Sorry? Didn't quite catch that." Tim blinks, because he's pretty sure that yeah, he did hear that, but his brain must just be sleep deprived because those words? Coming from the demon child? Superman was more likely to kill the Joker, than for Bruce's biological brat to request a favor from him, surely...

Damian scowls, but this is nothing new, so Tim waits until the child grits out the words again, stringing them out slowly, as though Tim were stupid, probably as a sort of cover for his pride.

"I am forced to ask for your... help."

Well then. This was new. Of course, there were a few issues with that...

"Okay." Tim replies, pinching the bridge of his nose and giving a sigh. "I'm not sure why you need my help, and I don't really see why I should give it to you, of all people, but I'm tired, I want to sleep, and you won't leave me alone until something gets done, right?"

"Yes," Damian sneers, but then thinks better of it, thoughts of tact and being less rude evidently bubbling through his mind. "Though I... suppose you are under no obligation to assist me, and I do not wish to associate myself with you unless absolutely necessary — "

"This isn't helping your case here..."

" — but there aren't many others that can help in this situation, and I feel you are the best suited to the task."

Was that a compliment? Tim blinks, almost owlishly. This was starting to sound serious on a social level, since that was one area Damian completely failed at, and partially acknowledged it himself. Social problems, however, also narrowed down what could be troubling Damian enough to bother Tim about, since Damian had exactly one human friend.

Tim groans, and runs a hand through his hair.

"This is about Dick, isn't it?"

A furious, embarrassed blush bleeds onto Damian's face, and he snaps his mouth tightly shut, but he doesn't deny the claim, and that's as good as an answer as Tim needs.

Tim blows his bangs out of his face, shakes the sleep out of his eyes, and really, really looks at the demon child for a moment.

He's shuffling his feet, his shoulders are tense, and his looks angry and indignant, which is nothing out of the ordinary, but Tim recalls the last few days, when he's caught glimpses of Damian, sulking, searching, and ultimately, so startlingly lost. The demon child is miserable, and Tim doesn't know what to make of it. It's only when he glances back at his room, at his bed longing because he really just wants to go back to sleep and not get sucked up in the kid's problems that he probably deserves, that sees his alarm clock. Bright and red, and if as accurate as it should be, three hours too early for Robin's patrol to have ended.

Tim's head swivels back to Damian, who has schooled his face into one of indifference.

"Did you — you didn't —" Tim forces his mouth to work properly. "You ditched patrol to come here?"


Tim splutters a little bit, because for a Robin to ditch patrol just to return to the manor for a minor problem, so casually even, is so foreign his brain, finally shaking off all of his sleep related sluggishness, can't quite compute. Robin, almost by definition, fights for longer patrols, more trust, and more chances to get field experience. Even Jason, for the most part, went with that formula. Though Damian doesn't need fighting experience, he's always fought hard for the perks and responsibilities of Robin, because he wasn't given them all like he thought he deserved.

"Do you — " Tim just stops there, because of course Damian doesn't. Doesn't think, oh, maybe Batman might call for him, might need something right then and there? Something important? Bruce can handle almost anything, but not everything at once. That's what Robin is for. To help.

"Father doesn't need me, he has demonstrated so on many levels." Damian mutters, bitterly, as he crosses his arms. "And tonight is quiet, at least by Gotham standards. Nightwing is also with him, should any altercations occur, and he is more likely to be the more useful one in my Father's eyes."

All true, and all logical, but typically Damian doesn't say so. Tim sighs again. Damn his conscious.

"Look," He says, simply, and flatly. "You shouldn't be here right now. Go finish patrol, and when you get back, I'll help you with your problem, provided you don't act like an ass, okay?" Tim is so tempted to say, 'Go finish patrol before Bruce notices you gone", but in all reality, he'd have noticed the minute Robin deviated from his normal route. It's not likely, but maybe returning to patrol and finishing it will make things right and Damian wouldn't be questioned on it in the morning, or at least, could waive it off as something slightly important but quick, and get a slap on the wrist.

Tim suddenly stops that thought and re-analyzes it. Oh God, he's already trying to keep the kid out of trouble. Dick is contagious. Either that, or his natural kindness is leaking through and subconsciously helping the kid, even though he'd rather punt him off a cliff.

"Tt. Fine. I'll go." Damian turns around and makes it halfway down the hall before he suddenly pivots and points an accusatory finger at Tim. "But I expect you to keep your word, Drake!"

Paranoid kid, but then again they all were, all had to be, for the business they were in. True, Tim could've just said that to him to get rid of him, but Tim doesn't like making a habit of lying or breaking promises, even to demonic children of a poor reputable quality. And since it's connected to Dick's funny mode and actions of late, it'll hopefully kill two birds with one stone. Might even keep Damian from irritating him as much.

"Yeah, yeah, I'll keep my word," Tim lazily waves him off. "Just make sure you do the same."

Tim turns away from the harsh light of the hallway, closes his door, and crashes on his bed, hoping morning takes it time getting there.

Dawn doesn't take it's time, and before Tim knows it, it's déjà vu all over again, with someone pounding on his door.

Tim rolls over and stares at his clock, with it displaying the time as six o'clock. Robin's patrol would have ended about an hour or so earlier, and Tim's a little surprised Damian didn't knock over his door the moment he was finished.

"Drake! Wake up! You promised!"

Crap, yeah, he did. Tim, feeling only marginally more energized than before, once again drags himself out of bed and to the door.

"Yeah, I'm here, geez." Tim swings the door open, and Damian comes tumbling in, too impatient to even finish waiting for Tim to fully open it.

Normally Tim would object to Damian in his room, no doubt getting his demon germs all over everything and would probably rig his ceiling fan to try and kill him or something, but Tim just closes his door and steels himself to solving issues with Damian. Today was not bound to be a good day.

There's no scathing remark about his room or how it reflects back on him, probably Damian is wise enough not to insult help he asked for, and because there isn't much for him to insult. Tim's room is neat, organized, and plain. At best, it could be called boring, but then Damian would be a hypocrite, because his room is threadbare as his, and maybe has some training equipment and a sword dangling off the wall.

"Alright," Tim says, rubbing his eyes for a second. "Let's start simple. What's your problem, and how am I supposed to help?"

Damian scowls, but since that what his face normally looks like to Tim, it only looks like Damian paused to glare at him.

"I don't know," He grouses. "Grayson is angry with me, of which is unusual for him, and I do not understand why."

"O-kay. Dick's like any other person, Damian, he gets pissed. Though he does have an ridiculously high patience for you."

Damian fidgets for a moment, refusing to agree with the implication that he is a difficult child and acknowledge how Dick means a lot to him for accepting him as such.


"Look, let's just skip over to the 'fixing' part of this. Do you know why he's mad?"

"I told you, I don't — "

"Understand, not know. There's a difference. Tell me you didn't get into an argument with him over something personal."


Of course. Why should things be easy to fix. Silly Tim, idealism is for kids!

"...Right. Okay. Just go apologize."

"Tt. I tried that." Damian looks away. "However, I am unable to tell if Grayson was able to determine whether or not I was genuine, and ultimately he decline forgiveness."

"Were you genuine?"

"Is that relevant?"



"...This isn't going to work until I know where you screwed up."

"...I do not believe I was wrong in what I had said and that it deserves no apology in the first place." Damian eventually mutters. "However, I... wish to reconcile with Grayson, regardless of our differing opinions."

That... was surprisingly mature of Damian. Scarily, even. But that spoke volumes of how important this argument had been to Dick, and it stirred up Tim's curiosity on the subject of it.

"That's... good." Tim says, "But if Dick won't accept a cease-fire-slash-truce from you, of all people, then you're going to have to try a bit harder."

"Yes, I realized," Damian hisses. "That's why I'm talking to you, Drake."

"No, really? I didn't notice, what with your crippling, non-existent ability to properly socialize with people without them wanting to throw you through a meat grinder."

"If you're so much better at this, Drake, then get along to the 'help' part of the segment, the sole purpose of which I enlisted your pitiful assistance for."

"You're going to have to apologize again," Tim retorts. "And mean it. Talk with Dick again. Understand his issue. And get over your own, if you want to make any headway."

"Are you implying my opinion is wrong?"

"There typically isn't a right or wrong when it's an opinion, but since this conversation with Dick was personal, it very means he holds it in an important light."


"So he's even less likely to change than you are, and it's less of being wrong, as it is learning to either deal with it, or change yours enough for a compromise."

"But Grayson is avoiding me."

"Ignoring you. Difference. Go, give him a present or something and apologize. That's all the help I'm giving you."

"But — " Damian looks like he's about to argue, to disagree, to insult his intelligence, and all sorts of things Tim doesn't care about right now.



This was so stupid.

Damian makes a point to glare at any who so much as glances in his direction. People are wise enough to stand away or stop looking.

He wears a slightly too big sweatshirt and scuffed-up sneakers, but that isn't really much to stop the general populous from looking and wondering if he was the newest kid that airhead Bruce Wayne got, the actually biological one. Damian hasn't really cared much for doing much in the public eye, minus the social events he's obligated to go to as part of the family, but he makes little effort to appear incognito otherwise. He's barely recognizable, and really, he can take care of himself.

Though, he does regret shrugging off the notion of asking Pennyworth to accompany him, or badgering Drake for more help than what little he was this morning.

Because Damian isn't really sure what do in a shopping mall, the haven for greedy children, hormonal teenagers, and greasy fast food. Large store signs, people everywhere he turns, dirty floors, and a loud, buzzing that consists of a collective, consistent chatter that reminds him of insects.

This really was a horrible idea.

Who even went to malls anymore? Damian could have simply went online and, from there, find something suitable, avoid all these useless idiots, and their stares. But that came at the price of time, and Damian was at the end of his rope as far as patience went. Drake's suggestion, he thought irritably, better work out.

The gift, as Drake advised, probably wasn't necessary, nor at all needed. Even Drake didn't seem to take the suggestion seriously. They were wealthy. They had everything they needed. What could a over-sized store of over-priced goods have that they didn't?

What's the point, Grayson?

There is none! It's just the thought that counts.

Damian peers into an athletic store, filled with equipment and clothing, and quickly dismisses it. The Batcave makes everything else look like a toddler's playground. No, if he was going to get something, even for "the thought", it was going to be special. He just had no idea how, exactly.

Clothing, no. Equipment, no. Electronics, no (that's be more toward something Drake would appreciate, and Damian would rather bite his arm off than get a gift for him). Food... Grayson mainly ate cereal from what he observed, and there's a surplus of it at the manor, so no.

Why is this so difficult?

He walks, partially on auto-pilot, his mind brainstorming what the hell special really meant anyway, into a store that immediately breaks his chain of thought because of it's smell. Candles, incense, all assault his nose within seconds, and it very quickly threatens to give him a headache, if the visuals didn't first. Cards, toys, and very fragile glass things in cabinets, frilly and antique looking items. An old woman manning the cash register, waves to him, and seemingly tries to appear subtle as she looks for his parents. Damian takes a gander at the store name, and though stops, because he realizes it neither matters nor does he care. He intends to leave, right now.

And then his eyes fall on something shiny, something that has his stupid argument with Grayson ringing in his ears and the words bouncing off his brain, and then something clicks in his mind.

Because it's perfect.

Which is great, and all, but he has to physically go up to the overly cheerful cashier and buy the damn thing.

The things he'll do for that idiot.

The cashier, as he'd predicted, makes a fuss over where his parents were, how cute he was, and wait, what, he had a credit card? He should really give that back to his mommy or daddy, it's not nice to take things that aren't his! Oh, what, that thing over there? You want it?

In the end, Damian has to resort to very big words in order to convince the woman he wasn't just a child, and lying that his guardian was in the bathroom and gave him express permission to buy that thing over there for a sickly family member. The old woman croons and finally gives in. Hook, line, and sinker.

It only took twenty-five damn minutes.

Damian resolves to never go shopping again.


So half an hour after sauntering in, Damian finally leaves with a plastic shopping bag in hand, his view of malls sinking even lower, and another good chunk of his patience lost forever. At least the annoying part was over, and he could continue on —

"Did you just walk out of greeting card store?"

...scratch that, the annoying part lives on, in a face he's not all too happy to see.

"Drake," Damian hisses, and then tries to ignore him by walking in the opposite direction.

"What — hey, no, come back." Despite this, Drake follows him, and soon catches up to Damian in his half-hearted pursuit of a land where Drake does not exist.

"What." Damian stops near a soda machine that, as he observes, give out highly sugary and unhealthy beverages at a average cost of one dollar and seventy-five cents. He contemplates buying one to shake and spray into Drake's face to get rid of him, but he has no change. Damn it.

"You know you're not really supposed to ditch Alfred when you decide to head out into the city?"

"I don't need him to watch over me as I enter place of such high security risk as Gotham's Mega Mall."

"He was kind of worried."

"I can deduce that from your appearance."

But that leaves a small ache in Damian's chest, one that he bullies to go away. Because normally, the one that comes to retrieve him when Pennyworth decides not to physically pursue him even though he can follow Damian's movements on his comm, which he didn't toss in the garbage this time, or on a tracer that he somehow always manages to put on him... is usually Grayson. Seeing Drake in his place doesn't sit well with him.

"Though, I'll admit, he was as surprised as I was," Drake mentions, almost off-hand and he looks around. "A mall? We were starting to think you stuck your tracers on some random kid you passed."

"It was your idea," Damian mutters, and then realizes he's said too much.

Drake blinks, and something that looks like a smirk forms on his face, and Damian's "Want-To-Punch-Drake-In-The-Face" levels rise dramatically.

"You actually bought Dick a gift?" He says, his voice a mixture or pure curiosity, disbelief, and amusement. "From a — "

"Shut up." Damian snarls, and curses everything in the world. "This is all your fault."

After depositing him on the front steps on the manor, Drake leaves him, and not a moment too soon. Damian was beginning to regret promising his father that he would stop killing villains, and Drake. If he recalled, Drake was a very important thing his father stressed on not murdering in his sleep...

Whatever. No time to dwell on happy thoughts of the past.

He didn't think to get wrapping paper or a decorative gift bag, Damian notices, as he critically eyes the white, flimsy plastic material the shopping bag is made of. On the side, there's what Damian assumes to be an approximation of a "happy" cartoon face, with the captions "Thank you!" and "Come again soon!" written around it. Grayson might find it amusing. It'll do.

Damian makes his way into the manor, curtly greeting the traitorous Pennyworth (who, for his part, seems faintly amused), and stalking past the kitchen as fast as he can without actually running. He's not desperate to make amends, even if he had to lower himself into dealing with Drake to find out where to start. He can't run around looking like he's completely lost with Grayson's company. Because he's not.

When Damian last looked at a clock, it had informed him that it was sometime in the afternoon. If Grayson wasn't doing something his father had requested or meeting with various friends from his old Teen Titans riff-raff, he should be in his room, sleeping, because he didn't recall Nightwing getting in until late in the morning, nearly two hours after his father. Which was extremely rare, but Damian had little time to question it as Grayson nearly fell over his chair at the table when he decided that yes, Pennyworth did give sound advice, and sleep, right now, was one of them.

To his disappointment, Grayson was not in his room, though a ruffled bed and overturned sheets were signs that he was there recently.

Damn. With Grayson's social circle being more or less the entire superhero community, this did not make it easy to deduce who he was hanging out with today. Damian looks at his plastic bag with a giant smile on the side, and...

No. No, no, no.

He is not pitying himself, with some, whining, sad, childish crap.

Damian shakes his head, and decides to head down to the cave, with every intention of using the computer to find Grayson, whether he wants to or not! This was taking up more time and effort than he thought he would, and he just wants things to go back to normal.

With his course of action determined, Damian turns to leave the room and make the trek down to the levels far below the manor.

And then runs face first into his target, who stares at him with one eyebrow raised.

Damian feels very annoyed right now, mostly because he dislikes being snuck up on. That's his job. And it's generally something that his mother frowned upon, letting someone sneak up on you led to death, being grounded because that was the next best thing in training, and etc.

"Damian?" Grayson, Damian observes, doesn't look angry or annoyed at him. But he doesn't look happy, either. "Do you need something in my room?"

"I was meaning to speak with you."

"Then speak, I guess?"

Why is he feeling nervous? That's a weakness that should have been stamped out of him when he was five. And he's not even doing something possibly life-threatening. He just giving a gift and apologizing, and by nearly everyone's accounts, sounds very much easier than what he's seemingly dealt with.

"I..." Damian squares his shoulders and makes eye contact. "IgotyouagiftwhichwasDrake'side, aandI'msorryaboutwhatIsaidwillyoustopbeingangrywit h-"

"Whoa, whoa, wait. I'm pretty sure I heard something about Tim in that, but you started mumbling and then all was lost." Grayson makes some sort of gesture with his arms, signifying whatever Damian had failed in saying was a lost cause in understanding.

Right. That was pathetic. Damian tries again.

"I got you a gift," To which he presents to Grayson, who blinks, "and I'm... sorry about what I said. I find it uncomfortable to have you unhappy with me."

For a minute, Grayson doesn't say anything, doesn't take the plastic bag, and at best, tilts his head. Then he speaks, and Damian feels like may have said the wrong thing before the first Robin even gets a word out of his mouth.

"Damian..." Grayson walks past him and sits on his bed, pushing the sheets out of the way, and gesturing for Damian to sit by him. "I really appreciate that you want to make up and even got me a gift. It's shows me that you're growing."

It sounds like a compliment, and it sounds like the beginning of a lecture. None the less, Damian takes a seat beside his brother.

"But do you really feel sorry?" Dick asks, seriously, "Because it won't mean much if you're not."

"I... am." Damian answers, as firmly as possible. "I... realize, that saying that this family should be the only one that matters to you and that your past one shouldn't... was a mistake, because you... Both of them mean a lot to you, and it was not my place to say so. I just... I'm sorry."

He ducks his head, blinking hard, and he waits. Seconds bleed into minutes, and Dick Grayson says nothing, and Damian is wondering if maybe he should have pestered Drake into giving better advice, any advice, because this must've been another mistake, why is this kind of thing so damn ridiculously hard and —

Grayson's arms suddenly wrap around him, and pull him close, and for a moment Damian thinks his lungs are going to be crushed.

"I forgive you." Grayson's voice is soft, murmuring against his hair, "So stop crying, okay?"

"I'm not crying!" Damian wails, but doesn't, because he's not some child.

Grayson laughs, and it's a wonderful, glorious sound, even though Damian first reaction to yell at him for laughing at him. He can feel Grayson's torso shake with his laughter, listen to it with ear pressed to his chest, to the sound of his heartbeat, and for the first time, Damain wonders what he'd feel like of that heartbeat one day just stopped, like it had Grayson's own parents, like Father's, like Drake's.

Damian worms one arm out, and blindly grabs for the plastic bag somewhere to his left. This draws Grayson's attention, and he relaxes his grip enough that Damian can breathe freely and and properly fish the small box out of the bag. He shoves it in Grayson's face, as a distraction, and makes a irritated swipe at his eyes to hide any evidence that he was anything but dry-eyed during that conversation.

"Ohh, right!" Grayson detaches it from Damian's hand, and consequently his face, to properly look at it. "Your gift! A box, something I've always wanted. Thank you, Damian."

"Perhaps you should look inside it." Damian suggests dryly. He doesn't have it in him to get mad over Grayson not taking it very seriously, but taking jabs at Grayson's intelligence is a familiar routine that feels normal and comforting.

"Inside? Revolutionary idea, but okay, why no—..."

Grayson pulls out a rather large ornament, bright and sparkling, depicting a circus with cheerful animals, colorful tents, and, what caught Damian's eye originally, a swinging trapeze bar. It also played music if you turned some knob somewhere, though Damian could barely remember the tune. It's large and slightly tacky, and would completely un-balance anything short of a very large tree, but Grayson looks at it and smiles, brighter than the sun, and holds it like it's more precious than gold.

He places it on his bedside table, next to some collage of family photos, of present and past, even though Damian points out it's meant for the holidays.

"Why wait for winter?" He uses an arm to gesture to it's new pedestal. "Now I'll see it all the time. Even better, don't you think?"

"I think it looks ridiculous."

"Then why did you buy it?" Grayson asks with a grin.

"I thought it was 'the thought that counts'?"

Grayson laughs and holds him close, his heart beating at steady, lively tempo.

Damian just closes his eyes, and feels happy.