There was an old menorah hidden somewhere up here.
Bruce lifted another dusty box out of the way, avoiding the cloud of dirt it flung up into the attic. He tried to recall where Alfred had carefully buried the box—a soft velvet, inlaid with silk—decades ago.
Perhaps he’d blocked it from his memory. Perhaps he’d merely forgotten.
“What are you doing?”
Bruce looked up from the boxes. Dick was standing at the attic door, a lone eyebrow raised. His hair was wet, like he’d just gotten out of the shower.
“Looking for something,” he muttered, turning away. Another box—no, this was china. Why did they have so much china? “How was patrol?”
“Quiet,” Dick replied with a shrug. He stepped into the attic, circling Bruce’s position. “You do realize it’s four in the morning, right?”
“I’m aware of the time, yes,” Bruce said, lifting another box from the floor. This one looked like linens, carefully marked in Alfred’s cursive on the side.
Dick nodded, silently taking this in. He was intuitive that way—he’d been like that since he was a boy; able to guess Bruce’s mood with a glance, then evaluate a course of action from there.
A second pair of hands joined him a moment later. Bruce’s mouth twitched as he opened a box of silverware.
“You’ll tell me if I find it?” Dick hummed, sounding tired. Bruce nodded.
They opened boxes together in silence, digging through old perfume and scarves. Dick exhaled in surprise as he saw the name on the side of the box he was holding, opening his mouth.
Footsteps pounded up the stairs, interrupting whatever he’d been about to say. Jason pushed open the attic door, wincing at the bright light.
“It’s four in the morning,” he said, crossing his arms.
“We’re aware,” Dick answered for both of them. “Go back to sleep then.”
“I can’t,” Jason said, glaring at his brother. “Someone’s tap dancing on my ceiling.”
“We’ll be quiet,” Bruce said, tilting his head. “Sorry, Jason.”
Jason blinked, drawn up short by the sudden apology. His arms uncrossed, falling to his side.
“What the hell are you looking for, anyway?”
And then they were three. Jason was less agreeable than Dick to look for something he couldn’t identify, but sleepy enough not to fuss too much. He was wearing cotton Iron Man pajama pants.
Bruce heart ached for a second, remembering nights like these a long, long time ago. When these men were boys. When he wasn’t looking for a goddamned menorah at four in the morning because the nostalgia of seeing it lit was enough to keep him awake all night.
“What are we looking for?”
Tim and Damian were at the doorway, looking mildly curious. Well, that was mostly Tim. Damian looked like he’d rather crawl back into bed and forget he existed for a few more hours.
Teenagers, Bruce thought, fondly.
“Wanna help?” Dick asked, instead of offering an answer. Tim shrugged, dropping his Superman blanket (Bruce rolled his eyes) to join his brothers.
Damian seemed to be waiting for an invitation. Bruce’s mouth twitched again.
“Come help, Dami.”
Then they were five.
The closer he got to Mother’s personal effects, the sharper the pain in his chest grew. It was surprisingly painful, even this many years down the road, to see her hairbrush. Her makeup. The soft leather gloves he remembered her wearing when they drove, elegant and a deep, dark red.
The menorah ended up being near the rest of Mother’s books, tucked in between a box of literary fiction and a box of murder mysteries. Bruce carefully lifted the case up, his mind traveling back to the last time he’d seen it, decades ago.
“Found it,” he said quietly. Around him, the boys stopped digging, looking up. He realized after a moment that they were staring at him expectantly.
“I…uh,” he said, awkward. “This is what I wanted.”
Jason snorted, getting an elbow to the ribs a second later from Dick. Tim looked curious; Damian was simply tired.
“Well, what is it?” Jason asked, wiping dusty hands on his Iron Man pants. “Don’t keep us in suspense.”
“It’s a menorah.” Bruce said, quietly. He avoided their eyes, stepping toward the door.
“Hanukkah started Sunday,” Damian said from behind him, a frown clear in his voice.
“I know that,” Bruce said, reaching the stairs. He bit back a smile as the boys followed him, eager to see what he was doing.
“Wait. We’re Jewish?” That was Jason. Bruce actually smiled this time.
Dick spoke up, the bearer of Alfred’s infinite wisdom in the elder man’s absence at this time of night. Morning. “Technically? Yes.”
“Rad,” Tim said, and that was that.
Bruce scavenged the pantry for the right sized candles and, upon find an acceptable trio, went to the bay window in the southern end of the house.
He set the box down on the table. The boys were gathered behind him, waiting to see the contents with bated breath.
The latch was bronze, a beautiful, ornate piece of metal, Hebrew letters curling around the edges. Bruce flicked it open, lifting the lid.
Inside, a silver menorah laid in between dusty silk, tarnished to near-blackness with disuse. Leaves littered the stems of the frame, trailing towards the twisting trunk of its base.
Bruce exhaled, a soft smile curving his lips.
He set it on the table, careful to make it visible in the window. The candles were warm in his other hand, waiting to be lit.
“Don’t they usually light these at night?” Jason asked, breaking the silence. Another thud, and he reconsidered his tone. “No offense, Bruce.”
“Sunset,” he corrected, “I think sunrise will be an acceptable substitute.”
Damian and Tim took the candles from him, sliding them into the menorah. After some quibbling over their position, they stepped back, admiring their work.
“I don’t really remember how this is supposed to go,” Bruce admitted, sheepish. “Alfred does, but he’s—“
“Asleep,” the boys chorused.
“Yes.” Glad to see the do not wake Alfred unless someone is dying order was still in effect.
“Well, we can just light them,” Dick said, diplomatic as ever. “I’m sure that counts.”
Bruce nodded, reaching for his pocket. He realized he’d forgotten the matches in the pantry, and cursed. “Jason—“
A lighter flicked into existence next to him. Jason leaned in, narrowing his eyes at the candles.
“Which one gets lit first?”
“The tallest one,” Bruce said, pointing. When it was lit, he took the candle and drew the flame across the other wicks, one by one. Jason shrugged, dropping the hand with the lighter.
He stepped back, the warm glow of candles filling the dark room. Outside, he could see the beginnings of sunrise over the horizon, painting the sky a dull pink.
“Do you want to, um, say something?” Tim asked.
But they stayed, positioned unconsciously in a half circle, defensive. Bruce watched the candles burn, half-amazed that they hadn’t said anything yet. A jab, some sort of joke about being soft and nostalgic.
“Happy Hanukkah,” he said, when the sun finally crept over the horizon.
“Happy Hanukkah, Bruce.” Dick said.
“Yeah.” Tim added.
“Feliz Navidad.” That was Jason.
“Chag sameach,” Damian concluded, with a distant smile. Bruce returned it.