Title: Like Father Like Son
Characters: Dick Grayson, Damian Wayne, Tim Drake, Alfred Pennyworth, Selina Kyle
On a merciless frigid winter night like this, the streets of Gotham City were fit for neither man nor beast. Unsurprisingly, there was very little crime taking place tonight. With the start of a blizzard beginning to rear its ugly head, even the dregs of humanity were hunkering down to brace for the coming storm.
"Where is he?" Dick Grayson muttered under his breath as he stared out the living room window. It was two a.m and he'd made the judgement call an hour ago to end all patrols early after getting a severe weather update from Barbara. He and Damian had been home for half an hour now, but there was still no sign of Tim.
"He said he was on his way, Master Richard," Alfred said in a reassuring tone. "Have a little faith." Still, even as he said this, the old man couldn't help the concerned lines deepening on his own face. The blizzard was strengthening outside to the point where one couldn't see the city lights at all from the lofty penthouse they all shared together atop Wayne Tower.
"I'm sure not going out there to rescue him if he got himself stuck in that mess."
Bruce Wayne's youngest son gave Dick a distasteful scowl. His face was illuminated by the glow from the iPad in his hands while the rest of his him was currently swallowed up by a thick, dark green fleece blanket. The ten-year old boy had taken possession of the sofa closest to the fireplace and had burrowed himself in the blanket as soon as he'd gotten himself out of his freezing, snow-soaked uniform and into some warm flannel pajamas. The look he gave his eldest brother clearly stated, "There is no way in seven hells you are dragging me out of THIS spot just to save Tim Drake's miserable hide in the middle of a blizzard."
As a weary, anxious Dick began giving Damian another futile lecture on the importance of family and brotherhood, a door on the other side of the penthouse opened up, and not one but two individuals walked in. One was a seventeen-year old teenager still in his black and red cowled uniform while the other was a tall slender woman bundled up in a heavy hooded winter coat and carrying a large satchel over her shoulder.
"Master Timothy!" Alfred exclaimed with relief. "And Miss Kyle? While it is good to see you..." he said as he offered to take the lady's coat. "...I'm afraid that Master Bruce is not here tonight."
"Oh I'm not here for Bruce," Selina said as she shrugged off her coat gratefully. "I'm here because he asked for me." She tossed a glance over her shoulder at the teen who was trying to remove his cowl with numb, half-frozen fingers. "You owe me quite a bit for dragging me out in this weather."
"You mean promises of Alfred's special hot chocolate and spice cake aren't enough?" Tim joked through chattering teeth before indulging in a small fit of coughs. "I know, I know. I owe you a solid. Thanks for coming, Selina."
The dark haired woman's face softened. "So where is it?"
Tim was about to answer as he tugged on the already open collar of his tunic when Dick came storming over.
"Finally! Where the hell have you been?- Hello Selina.- We've been worried sick-"
Dick shot Damian a dirty look. Then he turned back to Tim. "We've been worried sick about you. The storm is really bad out there and-"
Dick's rant was cut short by the unusual interruption. He stared at the small, unnatural lump moving slightly under Tim's tunic. "Did your chest just meow at me?"
With a sigh, Tim reached into the top of his open tunic and gently lifted out a tiny white kitten. Or at least he attempted to. The kitten loudly protested being removed from its cozy warm spot and clung to Tim's collar with its sharp little claws, trying to drag itself back in. Selina chuckled fondly and easily detached the tiny cat from the still defrosting teen vigilante.
Drawn by the curiosity of a ten-year old who didn't want to be left out of anything interesting, Damian reluctantly extracted himself from the warm nest he'd made himself on the sofa and went over to see what all the commotion was about. "Where'd that come from?" he asked to no one in particular as he followed Selina to the dining table, where she was opening her satchel and pulling out some supplies.
"I was patrolling around Crime Alley earlier when I heard something in the theater. I thought it was some homeless who'd broken in to take shelter inside, but when I checked, all I found was this kitten hiding underneath the stage," Tim said as he gratefully thanked Alfred for a hot cup of coffee and the thick heavy towel he'd draped over his head and shoulders. "It was about that time I got the call from Dick about cancelling patrols, but I wanted to wait and see if its mother was going to show up. After twenty minutes, I decided to follow some larger paw prints I found and see if I could find her myself." He paused to sigh with a somber expression. "I found her body out in the alley behind the theater. Looked like she'd been mauled by a dog while carrying another kitten."
The irony of it all didn't escape anyone around the dining table. Alfred, Dick, Tim, and even Damian gave the kitten sympathetic looks while Selina cradled it close.
"You poor little girl," Selina cooed softly as she gently examined the tiny kitten. "I don't think you're even two weeks old. Look at those ears. Can't even stand up straight yet." Though Selina was sure that the cat was most likely a purebred moggie, the mostly white kitten was already showing signs of having some very pretty seal point markings. She'd grow up to be a very gorgeous cat, if she had the chance...
Another coughing fit racked Tim's body, and Alfred went into immediate mother-hen mode. As he ushered the teen away with mutterings about preventing pneumonia, Selina turned her attention briefly to Dick.
"Could you heat up some water for me?" she asked politely. "I need to warm up some formula."
After Dick went disappeared into the kitchen, it was only then that Selina noticed that she was still not quite alone at the dining table. The youngest of the men in this household was still sitting calmly and quietly at the woman's right arm, his head pillowed on his arms with a curious expression on his face as he watched her handle the tiny kitten. She noted, with a small smile, that when Damian wasn't scowling or snarking or otherwise being an irritating little bloodthirsty tick, he was a pretty cute kid.
"Is the kitten going to be alright?" he asked quietly, almost as if he were embarrassed to admit any sort of feelings of concern for the small creature.
Selina didn't think he would appreciate it if she tried to sugar coat the truth for him. He was the son of the Bat, after all. "I can't really say. Kittens usually don't do well when separated from their mothers so young. With the right people she might be able to thrive, but it's really hit or miss."
Damian frowned. "So why did her mother leave her alone?" There was an undertone of bitterness to his voice.
As she stroked the kitten's fur gently, she spoke to the boy with a maternal tone. "Her mother didn't intend to leave her alone forever. Sometimes a mother cat decides to move her litter somewhere else while they're still young. With the way the weather was turning out tonight, she probably chose the theater as a new home because it was safer and warmer than where this one was born." Selina sighed. "But a cat can only carry one kitten in her mouth at a time. So she has to make multiple trips to move the entire litter, and sometimes bad things happen in between point A and point B."
"Oh..." Damian rested his head on his arms again as Dick rejoined them at the table carrying a mug of hot water.
"Will this do?" he asked.
"Ah, perfect," Selina said as she started warming a bottle of formula for the kitten. By now the tiny cat could sense that food was on the way and was mewling pitifully from hunger. She was about to give the kitten the bottle herself when she stopped and got a better idea. "Damian, would you like to feed her?"
He blinked at her in surprise. "Me?"
Selina smiled gently at him and offered him the small bottle. "Sure. I need to get a few things ready for her and I need my hands free."
Damian took the bottle uncertainly. "But, I don't know how..."
"Oh it's easy. Let me show you..."
Dick watched the entire exchange with a mixture of wonder and amusement. He rarely saw the little boy do anything without giving off a thick aura of confident, often abrasive, arrogance. That he was cowed simply at the prospect of handling a kitten made the elder brother smile. It was a smile that would only widen as Selina finally stepped away from Damian, leaving the boy cradling the tiny cat in one hand as it ravenously nursed from the bottle.
Selina grabbed the water bottle from her satchel and walked into the kitchen. Dick followed her in. "You know, Dick," she said as she filled the bottle. "When I first met Damian, I thought, 'There's no way this could be Bruce's son.' But now, tonight, I have to admit that I think the kid has to have some of Bruce's heart in him."
"What makes you say that?"
The dark haired woman smiled at Dick, then she looked across the kitchen and over the island at Damian. "He's got the same soft spot for orphans."