Jaden loved her adoptive family (and wasn't that a thought, that she had a family again) but she was also certain Dick lived just to mess with her. He was actually staying at the manor for the weekend, and Jay had kind of mixed feelings about his presence. He could be such a, well, dick!
"You dickface! Give it back asshole!" Her supposed big brother was currently holding her new book over her head, using his deeply unfair height advantage to keep it out of reach. He was also subjecting her to the indignity of using her as an armrest, the unnaturally tall menace.
The book was one she had picked out during her and Blanche's weekly trip to the bookstore where she got to pick out any books she wanted, and they would talk about what she had been reading like Blanche actually wanted to hear her ramble on for an hour about whatever had caught her interest that week. Jay still couldn't believe this was her life some days, it felt almost like she was a real life Disney princess.
Dick gasped in mock horror, lifting the arm that had been resting atop her head to grasp at imaginary pearls. "Jaden! Where did you learn such foul and unseemly language. In fact, I'm so shocked and appalled that such a sweet and innocent little girl such as yourself would use profanity like that I think I'm feeling faint." As he spoke, he began to slump over her on, causing them to collapse in a heap on the floor despite Jay's best efforts to the contrary. He sat on her, crushing her with his big stupid butt, cackling over her imminent death.
Red faced, Jay took drastic action. "MOM! Help! Dick's trying to kill me with his big fat butt!" Calling Blanche mom was a new thing Jay was trying out since B had asked her if she wanted to be adopted last week, and she kinda felt a bit awkward about it, feeling like she was betraying her real Mom. But saying mom in this case was also a strategic move on her part, by both upsetting Dick and making Blanche happy.
When she called her 'mom', Blanche's face would smile without actually smiling, her whole body softening, and it was one of Jay's favourite things ever. It also had the added benefit of making Dick do this weird half flinch, where he would look like he had just eaten something unpleasant, which Jay would admit was a bit petty of her.
"Oh my God Jay, why are you like this. I'm telling B you were swearing, then." Dick said all of without actually getting up, which Jay felt was rude. "And by the way" he added, sounding indignant (as if he was the wounded party here! Jerk.), "I have it on good authority that my behind is in fact the perfect size, thank you very much."
Okay, wow, way too much information. Plus, Jay didn't know much about what constituted a good butt, but she was sure Dick didn't have one, because he was terrible and his butt probably was too. But before Jay could get off what was going to be a scathing and witty repartee, Blanche came to her rescue.
"Dick! Get off your little sister right now!" Blanche snapped off with a displeased frown. Ha! Take that Dickface. As soon as Dick begrudgingly got off her, Jay scampered behind her, hugging her waist, and smirking at Dick from behind Blanche.
"I thought you wanted me to bond with her or whatever. What, does this not constitute spending time together?" Dick asked with an eye roll. But Blanche remained unmoved this.
"You know exactly what I meant when I asked you to play nice, and this is not it. You could have hurt her! She's still so small, and we need to be gentle, which you know."
"Seriously? You're gonna micromanage this too? Christ B, I know you think I'm incompetent, but don't think this is just a little to much even for your control freak tendencies?" He let out huff after saying, gesticulating with the hand not holding her book.
Blanche pinched the bridge of her nose, clearly displeased by the turn this was taking. "Dick, I'm not micromanaging, nor do I think you're incompetent. However, that doesn't negate the fact we need to be gentle with Jay, considering what a big change this is, and how malnutrition has stunted her growth." Dick looked away, clearly getting angry.
Which. Was not what she wanted. She suddenly felt her stomach begin to knot, because it sounded like this was going to be one of their big blow up fights. She hated those, making her feel like she was back at one of the many tiny apartments she had lived in with her dad, when he’d rage and yell at her and Catherine. She had just wanted her book (which she still didn't have) and now it was going to be a fight. She buried her face in Blanche's back, arms still wrapped tight around her.
"Dick," Blanche tried again, "I'm just worried she could have gotten hurt. That's all." And this was definitely the wrong thing to say, Dick's face darkening.
"Right. Because you wouldn't want some circus trash to damage your precious real kid. Got it." As he spoke, he stalked out of the room in a with long, angry lope before Blanche could stop him.
"Dick-!" She called out with an abortive half step forward as if to catch him. But with Jay wrapped around her waist, she hadn't been able to. Pulling away from her, Jay's eyes were glued to the ground, fearing the expression on Blanche’s face, the sad one she got when her and Dick fought.
Blanche laid her hand to rest comfortably on her shoulders, to reassure her, Jay thought. She felt guilt tear through her, and when she spoke her voice was small. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you two fight. I shouldn't have done that."
"No, sweetheart. This isn't your fault." Which was not exactly true. Jay squirmed, uncertain if she should say something. Because on one hand, it was kind of her fault. But on the other, she also didn’t want Blanche to hate her.
Also, she just maybe didn't want Dick to totally hate her. Even if he definitely started it. She really, really hoped Blanche meant it when she said she would be her mom forever no matter what happened. “Um. The thing is. I knew it would piss him off if I called you Mom. I don’t just call you Mom because he makes a face like he just ate a lemon though! I really do think about you like a mom. It’s just. I also make sure to call you that extra when he’s around because he’s a stupid dickface.” She scuffed her shoe on the ground, unable to meet Blanche’s eyes. She really hope she didn’t just make a huge mistake admitting that.
“What do you mean, he hates it when you call me Mom?” She sounded deeply baffled, her face furrowed in confusion. Which kind of surprised Jay, because wasn’t Blanche supposed to be the worlds greatest detective or whatever?
“I mean. I dunno why, but I’m pretty sure he hates me, and he really hates me calling you Mom. Um, you. You don’t hate me, right?” Jay hated how small and pathetic she sounded just then. How small and pathetic she felt, the way her stomach was an uncomfortable knot of anxiety and shame.
Blanche, instead of getting angry, just knelt down in front of her, so they were on the same level, bringing a hand up to cup her face. “Oh, princess. I promise you could do nothing to make me hate you. Absolutely nothing. You’re mine now, and I’m never returning you. I promise you didn’t cause this, and Dick doesn’t hate you, okay? I think Dick and I are long over due for a talk, but that isn’t your fault. Why don’t you go and see if Alfred needs anything, okay? I’ll come and find you in a bit.” She gently kissed her forehead, and Jay felt a lot better despite the clear dismissal. She hoped the talk Blanche was off to have with Dick wasn’t a bad thing, or turned into another fight. She gave her new mom a weak smile and scampered off before Blanche could change her mind about being mad.
“Dickie bird? Can we talk?” Blanche had fucked up, no two ways around it. She wasn’t the best with people, she knew, especially when there wasn’t a clear script she could follow. She thought she had an idea of why Dick didn’t like Jay calling her ‘Mom’, but she had already decided that just asking would likely be better then assuming. She was often wrong when it came to understanding her oldest child. She loved him more then she had ever thought possible, and she would never regret bringing him into her life, but sometimes she wonders if he wouldn’t have been better off with someone who knew what they were doing.
Dick stilled, ceasing his attempt to beat the sandbag in front of him to death, but he didn’t give any other indicator he had heard her, not even bothering to face her.
She pressed on. “I... I’m sorry I let everything get to this point. I don’t want to assume, though, since we both know just how good I am at that.” She let out a small self deprecating huff of air, a tiny thing that fell short of an actual laugh. “You don’t like it when Jay calls me ‘Mom’. Why?” She winced a little at how awkward and curt she must sound and hoped Dick would forgive her her faults once more.
Dick audibly blew a breath out, but remained facing away from her, hands holding the punching bag still, though it had long lost any of its momentum from before. When he spoke, it sounded measured in a way that made her think he was planning his words as carefully as she was. “Look, B, it doesn’t matter, yeah? Let’s just forget this ever happened and move on. I don't want to keep fighting.” Blanche floundered a bit at that, uncertain where to go from here. She didn’t want to call herself his parent, because she knew she could never be that, something he had been very clear on in the past, but she didn’t know how to express what she wanted to say. She took a risk, deciding that she probably couldn’t fuck this up too much worse. Famous last words, right?
“I... I know I’ll never be your mom but-“ She was cut off abruptly.
“Jesus Christ B. Just throw it in my face some more. Yeah, trust me, I know I’m not your kid. That’s fucking Jaden. Why did you take me in if you didn’t want a son? Did you just want a sidekick? Not that you even want me for that anymore.” Dick voice was bitter and hurt in a way that made Blanche felt like all the air had been pulled violently from her lungs. She swallowed thickly, speaking over Dick as he began to speak again.
“No! You’re my son! I did want you. I do want you. I just thought you didn’t want me, not as your parent at least. I was scared you would think I was trying to replace Mary Grayson. God, I love you so much, how could you think I just wanted a sidekick. I tried so hard to keep you away from being a vigilante, and it has nothing to do with my love for you. I-“ She struggled to find the right words to say, feeling exposed and weak; a failure. “I’ve thought of you as my son since almost the day I took you home. You were the best thing in my life for so long, and you and Jay still are.”
“I was a grieving ten year old when I told you I didn’t want a new mother.” He finally turned around and the expression on his face broke her heart. She reached out to him, fairly certain it wasn’t unwelcome, and hugged him, pulling him close against her, and he clung on, face tucked in her neck. When he spoke, she could feel the warmth of his breath against her neck. “You’ve been my mother in every way that matters for a while now, you know? I wonder sometimes if you love me or if you’ve ever been proud of me.”
She wanted to cry, guilt and anger at herself making itself home in her as it always did. Blanche had failed her son in so many ways, it was a wonder he was still in her life. “I’m sorry I struggle to find the words to tell you how proud I am of you, about how much I love you. Because I am. Proud of you, I mean. I couldn’t ask for a better son.” She pressed her face into the top of his head, still a few inches taller then him even at 18. Fear griped her heart in a way it never did when was Batman, but pressed on anyways. “I’ve had the paperwork to adopt you formally in my office for years now. I never said anything because I didn’t want to push your boundaries, but... If you want, I would love to be your mother legally. Regardless of what yo-“ Dick cut her off, finally pulling away from her to look her in the eye.
“Yeah, I think I would like that, B. I really would.” She clung to her son, like a balm to all the heartache she felt. Dick in turn held on to his mother, and found for at least a little bit, shelter in her arms.