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How Could I?

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It hits him one day when he’s at the manor.

Dick had always felt strange going to the manor by himself, or returning home to find no one there. Dick figured it had something to do with his body signaling to him that he needed to settle down - get hitched - and have a family. Because bodies do that, don’t they? They’ve got all these crazy chemicals that drive a person to feel things that don’t make a lot of sense.

Well.

Now it made a lot of sense.

Dick feels many things at once.

Confusion. Disorientation. Fear. Guilt. 

He doesn’t even know he’s hunched over, grabbing at his stomach, until his eyes start focusing on the carpeted floor. He’s distantly aware of the sound of breaking glass, probably Alfred in the kitchen, but Dick can hardly make anything of it. His mind was drawn to one thing and one thing only. 

Damian- 

That’s what the kid called himself. He had been in the manor as if he’d lived there his whole life. Dick had been slightly amused, if not a little fearful for the child’s mental well-being, and he’d hung out with the kid for a little while pretending to understand what he was talking about. And Dick could still remember the exact moment that Damian realized that he hadn’t actually recognized him - that he’d just been playing along with his mental escapade - when child protective services pulled up to take Damian off of their hands. Dick had suspected Damian had been abandoned or neglected. He’d just assumed because how else would a kid end up in the manor with delusions that he was a member of their family? 

Dick looks up from the floor when he hears the skidding of feet. His eyes find Jason standing in front of him with his Red Hood helmet tucked under his arm. Jason was breathing heavily, eyes wide in realization, and Dick knew exactly what he was going through. Jason had been in the manor the day the CPS came by. He’d laughed about the whole thing - he - they forgot Damian. They forgot him completely.

“Damian,” Dick gasps. “I- Jason- I called the CPS on him. He- He could be in the… in the foster care system! He might think we don’t want him or-”

Dick felt the fluid in his stomach run up his throat. Dick sprints for the bathroom. He leaves Jason behind in the hallway to spill the contents of his stomach in the toilet. 

His mind whirls. It spins. The world around him starts enclosing him. It feels tight. Unbearable. Why hadn’t he thought something was off? Why didn’t they question what happened to Robin? What about the reports on the batcomputer? Dick remembers seeing them! He remembers reading them! And yet it hadn’t registered in his mind! It was as if something was erasing the knowledge from his brain the moment he laid eyes on the words!

“I- I lost my- I lost my kid,” Dick stumbles over in horror. “I gave him away!”

Dick hears Jason drag himself into the bathroom. He hears his body slump against the doorframe. 

Dick turns to him with a knife twisting in his gut. His hands are trembling on each side of the toilet. Never in Dick’s life - never - had he considered giving up Damian. It had crossed his mind on the list of ‘what ifs’ but Dick never wanted to take that route. He’d raised Damian on his own. Kept him safe from his mother’s side of the family and-

And he gave him away.

Dick had made it clear to Damian that he didn’t know him. That they weren’t family. He’d speculated that Damian’s brain had been trying to compensate for the loss of his real parents, but Dick is his real parent!

“He’s been gone for two months, Jason! Two months!”

Dick wanted to throw up again but there wasn’t anything left in his stomach. 

Jason leans off of the doorway. He approaches Dick with careful, controlled, steps. He places his helmet on the counter, crouches, and rests a hand on Dick’s back. Jason’s face was tight. Dick could tell that he was having trouble coming to terms with the information, too.

“We’ll find him, Dick. We’ll find your boy,” he promises, sounding sure of himself, but it didn’t comfort Dick too much. He wouldn’t be okay. Not until he saw Damian again. Not until he figured out what had made him forget in the first place, and strangled the bastard that made him forget his kid!! 

“Let’s start with his tracker. He might still have it on,” Jason suggests. “We can use the facial recognition program and if that doesn’t work we’ll track him down through the foster care system- and if not that-”

Dick swallows dryly. His mouth was on fire. His throat, too.

“Bruce will know what to do,” Jason whispers.

Dick had a hard time keeping the tears from rolling down his cheeks.


The tension in the batcave is heavy. Dick stood in front of Damian’s folded Robin costume sitting on one of the spare cots. Dick didn’t remember how long it’d been there, or how long they had passed by it without looking into it. He reaches out a hand to grab at the Robin symbol. His fingers run over the imprinted R. That’s where Damian’s tracker had been. He had one in the symbol, one on his cape, and there had been one in his boot, too. He didn’t have any of his gear. Didn’t have his phone either because Dick had kicked him out of his own damn house. 

“There was a missing person’s report submitted for Damian,” Bruce voices aloud as he flies through the CPS’ system. Bruce hadn’t hesitated in hacking into their restricted databases. He’d been shaken too, in his own reserved way, and the only reason Dick had been able to spot it was because he’d worked by his side for years. Dick knew that Bruce loved Damian. They were an amazing grandpapa, grandson, duo. Damian was his Robin, too. Had been for a while ever since Dick had to go undercover in Spyral. 

“Looks like it was only two days after they took him in.”

Dick grabs the sides of the cot to support himself. 

“Which would mean that he isn’t with a foster family,” Bruce finishes his observation. Dick wasn’t sure if he was supposed to take that as good news or bad news. His only son wasn’t in a foster family, sure, but now they had no idea where he was.

“The last time he was spotted in Gotham was at a gas station on the outskirts one month ago,” Barbara sounds from the shared comm. It was an entire family effort. “He spent about five bucks buying food and-”

Dick tunes out the rest of Barbara’s statement. 

Damian had been fending for himself? He- He was just ten!

“There’s been no sightings since then. We might have to use the Justice League’s computer if we want a worldwide scan.”

“You think they’d let us do that?” Jason asks. 

“No one knows the watchtower's computer better than me,” Bruce rumbles. “It might just be our best option right now. In the meantime we’ll need all hands on deck. He could still be in Gotham, though the chances seem low.”

Dick feels a hand on his back again. 

He glances over his shoulder to see Jason. Alfred was standing off to the side, anxiously watching Dick, and Bruce was still staring at the computer with nervous concentration.

“Jason,” Dick’s whole body shakes. He can’t even speak correctly. All he manages to squeeze out of his throat is, “Damian.”

“Dick. I know you’re missing your kid, and I also know you’re probably beating yourself over it. Stop it. We don’t have time for a cry-fest. Your kid is out there. He needs his dad.”

Dick still feels weak, but he manages to give Jason a nod. 

Because Jason was right.

His kid was out there. And Dick would do anything to bring him home.


Damian was only one city away.

“He’s in Metropolis,” Dick remembered Bruce telling them over comm. Dick hadn’t hesitated after that point. He had demanded a teleport, left his startled family members behind, and zeta beamed to the watchtower. Then, he’d demanded Bruce plop him in Metropolis to where Damian had last been seen, and Bruce doesn’t say no.

Dick didn’t have much of a lead when he lands on concrete. All he knew was that Damian had last been spotted in the area thirty minutes ago.

Dick had seen Damian’s pictures. It stabbed a knife in his gut all over again because Damian looked tired, and skinny, and just plain sickly. Dick can’t get rid of the guilt that he’d been the one to have caused that. That he’d been the one who drove Damian away, possibly making the kid think he didn’t have a family who loved him, and that his father had pretended to forget him. 

Dick scours the streets for hours. He follows Bruce’s coordinates when Damian gets spotted again, but he never makes it in time to find him. He’s chasing after a phantom. 

And then - when the sun is setting - Dick finally sees his baby.

He’d caught him in an alley-way with cutting winds that poured through the two opposing buildings that towered over them. Damian seemed to be talking to another person dressed in a trench coat with blonde hair. There was a cigarette in his mouth and-

And who cares!? 

“Damian!”

Damian turns sharply on his heels at the voice. Dick catches a look at his dirty, smudged, face. Then he sees those pretty green eyes widen a fraction.

Dick can’t control himself. He runs. He then grabs at Damian’s shoulder, tugs him for a hug, but he stops himself before he can do it.

Who’s this guy…?

Dick ends up tugging Damian behind him instead. His eyes settle on the stranger before recognition finally hits him.

Constantine.

He’s a good guy.

Dick appraises him cautiously. Constantine raises a brow.

Dick turns back around to focus on Damian. He can’t keep his hands to himself. His hands run through Damian’s hair, down his cheeks, and then holds tightly onto his arms.

Damian looks at him with a vulnerable expression that Dick didn’t get to see too often. Dick could see him trying to hold it in, but Damian wasn’t doing a great job of concealing his thoughts. And - gosh - Dick couldn’t blame him one bit. He could only hope Damian would have it in him to forgive Dick for giving him away for-

Dick chokes on a sob. He tugs Damian into his arms where he belonged. Where he fit perfectly. He feels Damian’s tiny frame tremble against him. He distantly notices the way Damian grabs onto the fabric of his suit. 

“I am never letting you go ever again!” Dick weeps. 

Dick picks Damian off of the ground. Damian adjusts immediately. He wraps his legs around Dick’s middle, and wraps his arms around his neck. 

“Dad,” Damian whispers brokenly, “dad you’re-”

“I’m here,” Dick promises, “and I’m so sorry. I- I don’t know why I forgot I just… I can’t believe I turned you away-”

“Well, mate,” Constantine sounds from behind them. Dick glances over his shoulder to look at him. He was suddenly very aware of the fact that he’d just compromised his identity, but he wasn’t sure if he would’ve gone about his reunion with Damian in any other way. “The kid you’re holding searched me out. I don’t know how in the hell he managed to find me, I’m not an easy guy to locate, but apparently you all were suffering under a nasty curse. It wasn’t just you, either.”

“You mean…?”

“It targeted every ‘hero’ on the earth,” Constantine says. “They forgot about at least one member in their family. There were a couple that forgot their entire family, though, so you’re lucky that it was just the kid. If it weren’t for Damian here, I wouldn’t have found out, and you’d all still be under the influence of dark magic.”

“I knew something was wrong with you,” Damian whispers. “I tried to find someone who could figure it out.”

Dick tightens his hold on Damian. 

“Damian. I am so, so, so sorry you had to go through that. I didn’t mean to call the CPS. You know I love you, right? I would never give you away. Never.”

Dick was aware that his suit was getting damp from silent tears, but that was the last of his concerns. He was just glad to have Damian in his arms again. He wasn’t sure if he would let him go. 

“You called the CPS on him?” Constantine’s jaw drops. 

Dick doesn’t comment. He instead says, “Batman. I found him. Take us home.”

Dick would have to thank Constantine later. But right now, all he wanted was to feed his baby, help him clean up, and take him home. 

Constantine curses when they’re engulfed in light.


Dick would not let Damian go. 

He sits him in his lap when Damian eats. He sits in front of the bathroom the entire time Damian showers. He keeps him close when Bruce questions him about what had happened to him. Dick had a harder time with that last one. Hearing the crap that Damian went through to find Constantine had broken his heart in a million pieces, and Dick didn’t enjoy putting Damian through that trauma again. 

It’s the evening when they finally get into bed. Dick refused to leave Damian’s side. He had pulled him into a firm, inescapable, embrace on the mattress. Damian didn’t complain. He said very little, in fact. Dick hated it. 

“It’s not your fault,” Damian whispers to him at some point in the night. They both had trouble falling asleep. Dick was too busy taking in Damian’s scent, inhaling the strawberry shampoo he’d used to clean his hair, and his arms might as well be dead from his refusal to adjust Damian in his arms. He’d lost a lot of feeling in his right one. 

And Damian was busy consoling him.

I’m pathetic. 

“Damian. What I did was just unforgivable.”

“You didn’t know what you were doing,” Damian defends.

Hah. 

Hah. 

Of course. 

Of course Damian would try to make Dick feel better about the whole situation even though he hadn’t been the one out on the streets for the past two months. Damian shouldn’t be trying to make Dick feel better. He should be angry. He should be infuriated. 

“I love you, kiddo. I love you so much,” Dick starts to tear up again. He was so appreciative of his kid. He was thankful that Damian had allowed him to have his moment of making sure he was okay instead of protesting. He was grateful that Damian was trying to make him feel better even though he didn’t really deserve it. 

“I love you too,” Damian returns. 

Dick buries his nose in Damian’s hair.