Cassandra Wayne was an observer and never spoke without absolute necessity. She saw the details of the manor and her brother’s lives in full detail and could get away with murder if she wanted. Bruce and Dick loved her to pieces. Jason let her borrow his jacket and she could boop Damian’s nose without receiving a glare or death threats. Even since she had started dating Stephanie, Tim treated her like his favorite person in the world.
Although he hated to admit it, Duke was jealous. Fitting into the Wayne family was not an easy task if you disclude Dick who has been constantly including him in everything since his arrival. He was sure that he had their love and trusts, but a real connection was hard to come by.
Or so he thought.
Swinging across the gym bars with elegance, Dick twisted his body in ways that gave Duke sympathetic pains. How could a person do that to themselves and not break their limbs off? He was agile in the field but flips and flexibility were what Dick specialized in.
“Hey!” The older man hollered from where he landed in perfect form. “Are you here to use the bars?”
With a shrugged, Duke replied. “Just pull ups, nothing fancy.”
“Nooooo! Why don’t you come and join me? I teach all my robins to fly,” The whine was nothing short of childish and Dick’s eagerness made the corners of Duke’s mouth twitch upward.
“I’m pretty sure I’ve never been Robin but then again names around here do change a lot.” Duke said as if he was weighing the offer.
Reaching to tug on his little brother’s wrist, Dick made the decision for him. “You can be my Robin for a day, just don’t tell the others.”
A wink charmed Duke enough to follow the acrobat. “Alright but if Damian kills me, you’re paying for the funeral.”
Jason was different. Duke thinks he may understand Red Hood more than his adopted brother and the thought saddens him. They share anger between them, and Duke thinks that’s their connection. Because Jason was angry and for a long time he was too. Who wouldn't be a little pissed growing up in Gotham in poverty?
The Red Hood’s helmet had gone flying in the direction of the garage and held himself back as Jason ranted about how the city hadn’t ever bothered raising money for a food stamp building that had burnt down last month in the Narrows. People, kids, were starving while social elitists dined on steak and wine.
Duke listened to all of Jason’s complaints, even when he had shot the wall with a blank bullet. Eventually, the second Robin had calmed down just enough for Duke to have him sit down in the bean bags that Bruce had bought for all of them.
“I mean, the mayor just held a conference about supporting ACE Chemical’s like they are not the reason Poison Ivy an Scarecrow attack the city practically every fucking night!”
Awkwardly, Duke clapped his shoulder with an idea coming to mind. “I guess you, and I am going to have to rebuild it.”
Mouth dropping, Jason looks at him like he’s grown a second head. “What?”
“He’s literally a billionaire who’s let you get away with murder. We can play, the ‘I was a poor kid of color growing up, Daddy please hire a construction crew,’ card.”
Nodding thoughtfully Jason replied, “I knew you were in my top 3.”
Proudly grinning Duke pulls Jason up, and they start discussing their plans for the Narrows.
“Oh! Hey Cass,” He greeted after finding the girl sprawled out across his bed. It was an unusual sight but Duke had witnessed odder.
She beckoned him over and patted the unoccupied space next to her. Following her requests he sat down and stared at her with curiosity. Cass didn’t always stay at the manor and Duke enjoyed having her around when it came to the four Robins. They were chaos without additional company. After the long period of silence between them, she spoke. “Burgers?”
“You want to go out and grab some?” He asked. It was surprising but he wouldn’t oppose food after a tiresome school day. Even he had to take a break from being the Signal to just be himself.
“Yes, we go now.” She rolled off the bed, moving to stand up and take Duke’s hand in her own. “You drive us.”
He silently thanked whatever spiritual being that was out there and had saved him from enduring his older sister’s driving and walked with her.
Meeting Superboy would have been a nicer experience if Duke wasn’t so analytical of the clone. He actually had wanted to meet Tim’s boyfriend Kon, but he couldn’t help but feel protective of his brother. Bruce was already weary of meta-humans and while he couldn’t judge Kon for being a Kryptonian when he himself was a meta, his paranoia had gotten the better of him. What can he say? He’s a Bat!
It wasn’t until Tim had gotten up to use the restaurant's restroom that Duke could have a moment alone with him. And maybe he’s not proud of his actions but he needed his peace of mine.
“So you know that Tim is my brother, and I would kill for him. Right?” He questioned so casually that one would have thought he was inquiring about the weather.
Choking on a fry, Kon nodded his head viciously. “No I, I know trust me.” The superhero said with a wheezy breath.
“Good.” He said, popping another one of his fries into his mouth. “Just remember, 185-83-789.”
“That’s my civilian-”
“Social Security number. I know.”
Okay so he was bleeding. More than he would like to be on a Tuesday night but it's not the worst wound he’s ever had. Although that doesn’t change how the coppery smell makes him, gag or how the moon makes his blood look black. He shouldn’t have gone on patrol until his comm was back up and running properly. Rookie mistake.
“Signal!” A familiar voice shouts down the alley.
He hears the footsteps running up to him but he’s beginning to lose his vision. He thinks about the first time he’d seen Barbra without glasses or contacts, squinty eyes and all. He smiles to himself at the memory.
“Why are you smiling at me you buffoon? I thought you were intelligent enough to realise that you call your teammates when you’ve been stabbed!” Damian’s words were lacking any harshness, and Duke was almost wondering what had him so worried.
He wiggled his fingers. They were wet. From blood, his blood. Neat.
Blinking his eyes open at the bright light above, Duke sighed. Thanks to Jason and Damian, he’d thought plenty about this and hoped he was free from whatever her almighty or whatever's plans.
“Come on bud, wake up.” A hand touched his shoulder, and the contact was so familiar that he instantly opened his eyes, fully exposing them to the illuminated Medical room.
Bruce was standing above him and oh wow someone was laying on his feet and making the tingle from the pressure. He looks down to find Damian sitting in a chair and draped over the, face was scratched with worry. Duke remembers the black shine of the blood and being called a buffoon before passing out.
He had been stabbed. Right.
Following his second youngest’s gaze, Bruce gave him the short explanation. “He called us and wouldn’t leave you alone once we brought you back. Batgirl, Red Hood, and Red Robin other kids took care of your attacker and Dick raided his apartment after an anonymous tip about a meth lab.”
“That’s,” He paused to look for the words. “Sweet,” he decided and lifted himself just enough to hug Bruce. It was like russian rocket but every once and a while Duke got a solid hug from him.
And in Duke's good fortune, the man accepted the hug with little resistance but didn’t say a word. Duke didn’t need to hear anything to know his place in the family. He could hug Bruce and was cared for by all of his siblings. He fits in here with all of these protective weirdos perfectly.