The whole mess started because the gangs were a little behind the times. They either didn't keep up with the news, or had gotten their information second-hand, because the kidnapping attempt was a fuck-up from start to finish.
There had been a bit of a media stir when the long-missing Dick Grayson had reappeared, stepping out naturally at the summer Wayne Foundation gala and acting like nothing had happened, but it took years before the gang saw fit to strike. It might have been because they thought they lacked an angle, or it could have just been a lack of resources. Either way, the attack came from out of the blue only because it was so, so delayed and so, so off-base.
Laila was kidnapped at her daycare. Damian had said again and again that the daycare wasn't nearly safe enough, but he hadn't wanted to be proven right. He'd hoped that the knowledge that Bats followed Waynes closely would make any would-be kidnappers think twice, but this crew was very stupid and acting out of personal vengeance.
The dumb shits thought that Laila---registered under 'Brown' instead of 'Wayne' for obvious reasons---was Dick Grayson's daughter. They thought that they would be ransoming her---or hurting her---to get Dick's attention.
If he hadn't been so furious that his daughter had been kidnapped, Damian would have been deeply insulted.
"Damian," Dick struggled to keep pace with him as Damian pounded toward the Batmobile, buckling his suit and putting on his cowl as he went. "Listen. Damian, breathe. Damian, for Pete's sake stop for a second and listen!"
"I don't have time for this," he said, shooting him a smoldering glare. No, he couldn't stop. He couldn't waste time. His daughter was in the hands of goddamn filth and he would break every single one of them. He wouldn't kill them, but oh, he would enjoy filling the ICU tonight. They would pay for this mistake in the only currency he was interested in: broken body parts.
Dick grabbed his shoulder and didn't let go. "Damian. Take a deep breath. We'll find her."
"Of course we will," he snapped, annoyed. "I implanted a tracking chip in her when she was born."
"That's one of those things that's going to come back to haunt you when she's a teenager. Never, ever let her know that you chipped her."
"I don't have time for this," Damian repeated, and tried to brush past him.
"I'm coming with you," Dick said stubbornly. "It's me they want. And if I'm not going with you, I'm going to go tell Steph what's going on and then follow you anyway. I'm not a prom date that you can ditch, Little D."
Tattling. How very like him.
"Get in the car," he said flatly. "I'm driving."
"You really are all grown up."
"Not the time, Grayson."
Once they got there, it was all fairly by-the-book. The tracker led them to a seedy nightclub, which unsurprisingly had a secret basement full of hot merch and men with guns. The only thing that was different from a usual bust was the way Damian's lungs didn't feel like they were pulling in enough air. Laila's arms were ziptied behind her back and they'd wadded up one of her socks and stuck it in her mouth. As soon as Batman and Nightwing kicked the door open, she spit it out and shrieked, "NOW YOU'RE IN BIG TROUBLE" at her captors.
She was a smart, smart girl. Dick yelled at her to close her eyes so that she didn't see the fight, but Laila ignored him. She watched her father and uncle cut through the men, calculating and dissecting and unafraid.
There was always the question of nature vs. nurture. Damian had been trained from birth, but he hadn't wanted that life for his daughter. Laila's upbringing had been the roughest estimation of normal that they were capable of, but she still gravitated toward the fight. It wasn't 'fighting', it wasn't 'violence', it was a calling as clear and integral as religion. Watching her watch them, calm and fascinated, Damian knew that it wouldn't be long before she asked to be shown how.
He both looked forward to and dreaded that day. He tried to shelter her in all the ways he knew how, but his child carried a heavy, complicated legacy. It was unrealistic to believe that she wouldn't don a mask and join the fight that her grandfather had begun, but he was at least going to allow her to make the choice for herself.
Damian had learned one lesson from his father that Bruce hadn't been trying to teach. Instead of seeing his allies as soldiers, he saw them as family. That meant that he left greater openings and advertised emotional weaknesses, but it also made it clear to everyone who wore the bat symbol that they were not expendable. They were a clan, not an army. He refused to repeat his father's mistakes, even if it was for the good of the city.
They cleared the place out in short order. Damian wasted no time in cutting the ziptie from around Laila's wrists. She arched on her tiptoes and wrapped her arms around his neck. He picked her up, holding her close, and managed to start breathing evenly again. Laila kissed as much of his un-mask-covered face as she could.
Dick crouched beside one of the men, pulling his head up by his greasy hair.
"So, buddy, let me tell you where it all went wrong," he said, his tone purely conversational. "'Cause I figure, you've got to be asking yourself that. It seemed like such a good plan, didn't it? Foolproof, even for your merry band of chuckleheads. But, here's the thing. You assumed that this Laila Brown kid was Richard Grayson's lovechild. Cute, but not on the money. Her name wasn't doctored in the system because she was a dirty secret, but because she's a Wayne."
The man's mouth opened and closed like a landed trout.
"Aww, there we go. You're getting it! See, he's getting it all on his own. That little girl?" Dick jabbed a thumb over his shoulder, to where Damian was holding Laila. "She's a goddamn Batbaby. You screwed the pooch big time."
"Fa---" Laila caught herself, wriggling in Damian's arms. "Ba'man, lemme down. Down, please." He knelt back down, cape pooling around him, and let her go. She stomped over to the half-conscious man Dick was talking to. She pulled up the hood of her sweatshirt, which had pointed little bat ears on it, and crossed her arms over her chest in a way that had to give Dick a feeling of déjà vu.
"You're a bad man," she scolded, waving finger and all. Most children her age would have been a traumatized, sobbing mess. Not Laila Constance Wayne. "My socks tasted gross and I hate you. You shouldn't be mean to girls!"
And then, before either man could stop her, Laila kicked him swiftly in the crotch.
Dick looked at Damian. He tried not to seem impressed, but he knew better.
"How did they not know she's yours?"