Chapter 1: Prologue
He had had the watch as long as he could remember. He knew it was a watch—it ticked—but he’d never felt the compulsion to open it. At the end of a long day, after fruitful (or not) training, he would fall asleep, tracing the comforting circular symbols on it’s back. It was always warm, but it never had a metallic scent. Sometimes, he could have sworn it whispered strange and fantastical stories to him as he slept, but as soon as he woke up, the whispering was gone, and so was his memory of the stories.
When he was five, or maybe six, his trainers noticed the watch and his dependence upon it. Since the perfect warrior could hardly have such attachments, they tried to take it from him.
He defeated them handily—the first time he had ever fought for anything. They decided he could keep it.
At his eighth birthday party, while he waited for his mother, he found himself tracing those circular patterns. When Talia finally appeared, she observed him holding the watch and silently asked for it. He had given it to her, but the moment her fingers touched it, the watch sparked and she pulled her hand back, a slight frown marring her brow. He took it back, slipping it into a pocket. After the watch disappeared from sight, his mother never requested it or discussed it again.
It was strange—as long as the watch was out of sight, no one seemed to know about it’s existence, but as long as they didn’t know, it could not be used against him, and for that, Damian felt a sense of gratitude. When he was left with his father, his watch had been tucked away in his suit, and even when his mother had blown up the submarine, he had felt the ticking of the clock in time with his own heartbeats. It kept him from panicking until they reached the shore.
He didn’t know what exactly it was, but he loved it all the same, as much as he could love anything.
Chapter 2: Part 1
He had been ignominiously shot by some two-bit villain. He refused to let it kill him, but he could feel his blood pooling underneath his body, soaking his canary cape and turning it a strange orange. Grayson was pressing down on the wound, the cowl off and his blue eyes feverishly worried. Pennyworth had called Thompkins and she was on her way, but at the rate he was losing blood, she would not be in time.
His watch was keening, from its safe spot behind his ‘R’ insignia. He weakly gestured at it; Grayson shook his head. “Damian, don’t move.”
“Grayson—my watch—please, just get my watch,” he rasped. It was probably the ‘please’ that did it as Grayson kept his left hand on the towel pressed against his abdomen, pulling the side of the tunic down and pulling the watch out of its compartment.
“How did I not know about this?” Grayson asked quietly; Damian shook his head.
“Help me open it—no, don’t open it Grayson, help me open it.” Grayson looked mystified, and if Damian wasn’t feeling so dizzy from blood loss, he would feel the same, but his every instinct told him he needed to open the watch. Grayson carefully folded his left hand around the watch, using his thumb to press Damian’s thumb down onto the button that opened the clasp. Golden light streamed from it, soaking Damian in it completely. In Grayson’s grasp, his body began to shake, and he wailed in agony, arching his back up off the table.
“Damian!” Grayson turned him over onto his side, slipping some sort of strip between his teeth and holding his head up as Damian seized. “Alfred, help!”
Damian was insensible to Pennyworth coming to Grayson’s aid as he shuddered and bit into the strip, pain like he’d never known before wracking his body. After a few moments, it was over, and he collapsed in a heap on the operating table, still trembling and huffing out his breaths. Pennyworth let him go warily, and Grayson did the same, twisting his hands together. “Damian?”
He slowly maneuvered himself off of the table, grasping onto it to keep from falling. He was still bleeding, but he could feel regeneration coming, and he needed to be standing. Grayson took a step forward, but Damian held up a hand. “I need to stand,” he said quietly, and then it took over, more golden light erupting from his head and arms. He felt his skin change—his clothes became uncomfortably tight, his boots squishing his feet considerably. In just as a short a time, it was over, and he looked down again, at Grayson, whose mouth appeared to be on the ground, and at Pennyworth, who seemed just as surprised.
“Let’s see...” he muttered, looking at his fingers. They were long and corded—still a fighter’s hands, good. Two arms, two legs…He started to unknot his boot laces; he was still shaking slightly from the regeneration, and he fumbled with the knots before tugging on them and the knots became undone. He pulled on them, finally pulling his boots off. His feet were larger, still slender, and he sighed with relief once the boots and socks were off. He hadn’t liked to get his feet dirty before, but somehow, the feel of the bunker concrete was...soothing.
“...Damian?” he looked at Grayson, who was still just as agape. He noted he was closer to Grayson’s eyes than previously; he must have grown. “Oh my god,” Grayson said softly to Pennyworth. “He looks just like Bruce.”
Damian stretched out the kinks in his back. “I’m fine, Pennyworth. You can call Dr. Thompkins and assure her her services are no longer required.”
“What are you talking about?” Grayson said furiously. “You were shot—you were dying! And now you’re...taller.”
“Amazing observation,” Damian said dryly. “I need a mirror.”
“Seriously, Damian, what was that?” Grayson’s eyes were narrowed, and he blocked Damian’s path to the glass case that held Father’s spare cowl. “Is that something your mother gifted you with? If that kind of ability is within the League of Shadows, we need to know this.”
Damian looked at the watch on the operating table. “I highly doubt my mother knew about this. You said you didn’t know I had my watch. How? It threw off the lines of my Robin uniform.”
Grayson shrugged, still not moving from his way. “I never saw you with it. I didn’t even know you had a watch.”
“Strange,” he mused. “Grayson, get out of my way. I need to see what I look like.”
Slowly, Grayson moved, but as Damian moved past him, his leg jerked and he tripped slightly. Grayson grabbed him, holding him up as he—for lack of a better term—burped out golden energy. Grayson opened his mouth to say something, but Damian tugged his arm out of Grayson’s hold and strode to the glass, eyeing himself.
“I have Drake’s hair—that will never do,” he groused, tugging on the longer strands. “I do look like Father, but...” His build is no longer as stocky and muscular as it used to be—it’s far more like Grayson’s slender acrobatic build now. His eyes were bluer than the slate grey they had been; his nose was still the same, and his mouth was roughly the same as well. His scars were gone. He tugged the remnants of the Robin tunic off and swiveled to look at his back in the glass. The long silvery scar that had marked him previously was also gone.
He didn’t know how he felt about that.
When he looked around again, both Grayson and Pennyworth had come closer. Carefully, Grayson rested a hand on his bare shoulder. “Damian, what happened?”
“I’m fine,” he told him. “I’m perfectly fine.”
“That golden energy...”
“Regeneration,” Damian clarified. His body jerked again, and Grayson’s light touch turned into a hold, to keep him from falling as more golden energy expelled from between his lips. Damian slowly straightened again, and Grayson’s hands fell away. “I...regenerated. I’m a Time Lord—when we’re close to death, we regenerate; new body, same person.”
Grayson blinked once, twice. “Okay.”
“Part of my consciousness was sealed away in that fob watch,” Damian continued, quieter now as he worked through the details. There was too much he didn’t know. He instinctively knew that this was his second body, first regeneration. He was young, for a Time Lord, and there was something missing. Some sort of echo or playback that wasn’t there. In his head, it was silent. That bothered him. He didn’t like the idea of people going through his head, but there should have been some sort of awareness of...something, and there was nothing. “When I opened it, it released that part of my consciousness and rewrote my DNA into Time Lord DNA.”
“I take it it hurt, Master Damian?” Pennyworth inquired.
Damian’s lips pressed together; they all took that to mean ‘yes.’ “I need to see my mother,” he added. “She should know about this, what this means.”
“I thought Talia said not to come back,” Grayson answered warily. “I’m not saying I’m not up for it, but I’d prefer not to have the League of Shadows invade Gotham.”
“I doubt that will occur,” Damian said confidently. His mind raced through the possibilities—his mother likely abandoned the London hideout after he brought Grayson there a few weeks ago, and if Drake’s intel was correct, she would be avoiding wherever Grandfather would be likely to be—she liked comfort, and she liked style. She could ‘rough it,’ but she needed a solid reason, so all of the out-of-the-way places were out. “Spain, or France.”
“Keep up Grayson,” he snapped. “My mother is likely to be in Spain or France.”
“Sorry, kid, but I’m still stuck on keeping the League out of Gotham if we piss them off,” Grayson reiterated.
Damian sighed, almost wishing he could pinch the bridge of his nose. He’d never done it before, but he could start doing it now. “We will not be going as Batman and Robin. My mother will recognize that that makes it an unofficial visit, and to have the League invade Gotham in retaliation would be...unwise.”
“We will not be going as Batman and Robin,” Grayson repeated, his eyebrows scaling his forehead impressively. “How will that help, exactly?”
“My mother is already aware of your civilian identity, and to be frank, I cannot wear my current Robin uniform,” Damian gestured to the ruinously-stretched leggings, “as I am taller, and I refuse to wear Drake’s uniform until we order a new suit. Besides,” here he hesitated; he did not know if Grayson had heard all of his exchange with his mother before his mother showed him the new child gestating within the birthing matrix, “my mother does not like me to wear the Robin uniform around her. She will think I am changing my behavior to suit her, and it might make her feel smug enough to explain herself.”
Grayson’s shoulders slumped slightly. “All right, I guess I’m okay with that. So you think Talia’s in France or Spain? Where?”
“There are four respective locations for the League in Spain, and six in France, some dating back for centuries. My mother will want a population center, so that knocks four of the options out. She also likes history, so that’s another two. It leaves Valencia, Barcelona, Paris, and Avignon.” Damian frowned; this face liked to express more emotions than his previous one. “Avignon would appeal to her for a number of reasons, but so would Valencia.”
“We can go to either,” Grayson said, walking to the Batcomputer and plugging in the coordinates of both cities. “Are there any markers that would indicate Talia is there?”
“No,” Damian said flatly. “We’d have to search ourselves. That’s fine; I just want answers.”
“What makes you think Talia would have those answers?” Grayson pointed out, leaning against the console. He looked exhausted—Damian remembered that only twenty minutes ago, Grayson thought he was dying.
Grayson required rest. It was good that he could fly the Batplane; Grayson could sleep in the passenger section.
Damian shrugged in response. “Unless some sort of mind control existed to make her think I was her biological child, she has to have answers.”
“That’s the thing, Damian—in our world, mind control is a strong possibility,” Grayson replied, crossing his arms. “If that is the case, what next? Do you track down Ra’s al Ghul? Considering he’s likely to kill you on sight?”
Don’t make me watch you die, Damian heard. He pinched the bridge of his nose—oh, he liked that, he will definitely be doing this more often—and let his shoulders slump. “If Mother doesn’t know, then I will track down my grandfather, but I will be prepared. I will also go alone.”
Grayson’s eyes narrowed. “I am not letting you face down the Demon’s Head alone.”
“You let Drake,” Damian said restlessly.
“There was no ‘let’. Tim did it on his own, and you know how I felt about that. Damian, maybe you should try to track down other Time Lords before Ra’s al Ghul. Maybe they’ll have the answers you seek, without putting yourself in danger.”
After he said that, Damian realized what the quiet in his head was, and he spoke without thinking. “There are no more Time Lords left. I am the last.”
Talia was in Valencia, as it happened. Damian had found her somehow by concentrating—honestly, Dick didn’t understand it at all, but he’d seen stranger, so he kept quiet.
Damian insisted on flying them (“Because I hardly trust my life to your subpar piloting skills, Grayson”), but after all this time, they’d managed a system of communication, and he was kind of glad to sleep for a bit on the flight over.
Damian was wearing his clothes—his ‘prior’ clothing would have hardly fit—and though he grouched about it (like he grouches about everything), it was better than Damian wearing Tim’s castoffs.
He didn’t think he’d be getting that leather jacket back, though. Damian looked far too pleased with it.
He suspected Damian had deliberately flown more slowly than the Batplane was capable of (Gotham to Valencia could have been a far shorter flight, but when he awoke, he had that rested feeling that meant he’d hit at least six hours), but there wasn’t any time to ask, because as soon as Damian landed the plane, they had been beset upon by some of Talia’s henchmen.
Apparently Mommy Dearest wasn’t too happy that her son had come looking for her, but just as Damian had hypothesized, she had taken the fact that her son wasn’t wearing the Robin uniform as a point to her.
Her face had displayed some shock when Damian announced their presence, and it was easy to empathize with—though Dick had suspected Damian would look more and more like Bruce as he grew, suddenly Damian was taller and looking like Mini-Bruce (albeit with longer hair that Damian swore he would cut at the next available opportunity). It was strange.
However, from the moment Damian opened his mouth, there was no disputing who he was. “Mother, I demand you tell me the truth. I was a human, but now I am a Time Lord, because part of my consciousness was sealed away in this.” He held up the fob watch. “Explain.”
Talia flicked her fingers at her henchmen; they bowed and left the room and she rose up from her throne and padded down to Damian and Dick. When she looked at Dick, her mouth twisted up, but she didn’t say anything about his presence this time. She looked back at Damian, taking the watch from him. “Damian, I’ve never seen this watch before.”
Damian looked thrown, before he pursed his lips and narrowed his brows. “Mother, you saw it at my eighth birthday party. You took it, and it sparked, so you handed it back to me.”
“It’s not sparking now,” Dick felt compelled to say, but mother and son ignored him.
“Damian, I have never seen this watch before.” Talia looked...intense. She wasn’t as displeased with Damian as she had been the last time they were in this situation; this was closer to what she looked like when Ra’s decided he wanted to take Damian’s body (and there was never a context in which that wouldn’t sound creepy). “I promise.”
Damian took back the watch and pocketed it in Dick’s borrowed jeans. He eyed his mother from beneath his fringe of bangs. “Just out of curiosity, when did you decide it was time for my father to provide his DNA?”
Dick felt like plugging his ears and saying LA LA LA, but that would be unprofessional, so he glanced around the opulence in Talia’s audience chamber instead (honestly, with the level of sheer tackiness, it required the term ‘chamber’ instead of ‘room’).
Talia furrowed her brow, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear. “I know my father had informed me it was time. I wasn’t unwilling, but I had been hoping to go to Gotham to Bruce instead of luring him...After that night, we set up the birthing matrix.”
“So it was my grandfather, not you?” Damian needled, and Dick eyed his partner. Damian was getting at something.
“Yes,” Talia said, raising her brows at Damian’s insistence. “But I would not recommend going to him. He is still displeased at Drake’s destruction of his computer network, and is not likely to show any sort of geniality to anyone related to him.”
“-tt-“ Damian snorted. “I’m hardly related to him.”
Was that pride sweeping over Talia’s features? Yes. Yes it was.
“Come, Grayson,” Damian demanded. “We need to be back in time to patrol tonight.” He swept out of the room, and Dick made to follow, before Talia stalled him.
“Grayson. I’m aware we haven’t...gotten along well in the past,” she started.
Dick snorted. “You think?”
She very clearly restrained from rolling her eyes. “But you should be aware...my father wishes for an al Ghul heir from Drake. My aunt....has been...commissioned to do so.”
Dick raked his hands through his hair. “What is the fuck is wrong with you people? Why can’t you reproduce the normal way, you know, consensually?”
Talia raised a brow. “I merely sought to bring the situation to your attention.” She started to walk back to her throne, before she turned and the look in her eyes was almost...saucy. “Besides, cat-and-mouse is much more interesting.”
Dick glared, but he turned and followed Damian. Tim needed to be warned as soon as possible. If Damian was difficult to deal with, a Mini-Tim with the same training was frightening.
“What did my mother want?” Damian finally asked as Grayson smoothly piloted the plane over the Atlantic, the Batplane back at its normal speed.
“One of your aunts has essentially been ordered by your grandfather to become impregnated by Tim,” Grayson bit out.
Damian grimaced. “I suppose my mother had her reasons for telling you, however.”
Grayson glanced at him, and then back to the window shield. Damian was pretty sure Grayson knew why his mother had informed him, but Grayson was adamant about getting him ‘to talk.’ Which was ridiculous—he had no problem talking.
“Since my mother was able to leave my grandfather, her political situation within the League of Shadows has been precarious. If my aunt has Drake’s child, then my mother’s situation becomes all the more precarious. She has everything to lose and nothing to gain if it occurs. If you warn Drake, and Drake prevents it, my mother has a stronger chance of keeping a strong foothold within the League, another step to overturning my grandfather in the future,” Damian said tonelessly.
“No offense, kid, but how your family approaches reproduction is weird. Is dating and marriage too commonplace?”
Damian stiffened at the insult, but then relaxed again. “My grandfather is not the only one who has access to Lazarus Pits for his health, you know.”
“True enough,” Grayson murmured. “Patrol, tonight, I think you have the night off.”
Damian looked sharply at him. “What?”
“Damian, I don’t care however you put it, you were shot. You almost died—technically did, if I understood the explanation about regeneration correctly. That’s deserving of a night off.”
“But the thug who shot me—he should know he failed!” Damian exclaimed, clenching his fists in his pockets.
“He will. But not tonight,” Grayson’s voice brooked no argument. “Besides, we have to order you a new suit anyway. That’ll take some time.”
Damian sank down in his seat, arms crossed in front of his chest. Grayson removed one hand from the control column and ruffled his hair. He grasped Grayson’s wrist.
“Don’t. Touch. My. Hair.”
Grayson laughed, easily freeing himself and placing his hand back on the control column. “Methinks the lady doth protest too much.”
“Your humor is lacking, and you have to butcher Shakespeare as well? –tt-,” Damian pressed his lips together.
That only made Grayson laugh harder, damn his eyes. What was so funny?
Finally, Grayson shook his head. “You’re adorable, kid.”
“So, why exactly are you prepping the Batplane?” Colin wanted to know, shoving his hands inside of his pockets.
Damian barely spared his friend a glance. “I need to go somewhere.”
Damian glared at the redhead. “Are you coming or not?”
“I don’t know, Dami,” the redhead scuffed a foot on the dirty ground. “It feels wrong to go in the Batplane without Batman.”
“You faced down Zsasz with me, and now you’re stalling from the Batplane?”
“Where are we going?” Colin asked sharply.
Damian swayed slightly, before grasping the hull. Colin rushed to his side, but Damian waved him off. “I know where we’re going. Feel up to the Himalayas?”
“Why there?” Colin inquired, his eyes intent as he looked Damian over. Unlike Grayson, Pennyworth, and his mother, he had been fairly unsurprised by Damian’s change in appearance. He knew Damian was still Damian, but for whatever reason, this new body was just a little weaker.
“There’s something there I need to get,” Damian told him. “And I’m fine—I’m just...acclimating. I don’t know what it is yet, but there’s something in the Himalayas I need to get. Grayson still thinks I’m weak from what happened last night, and he’d want to go with me. I don’t think...” he fell silent. “It needs to be just me, this time. And you. I need someone to be in the Batplane. You don’t even have to exit.”
“Why do you want the company?” Colin asked, gently resting his hand on Damian’s shoulder. He flinched—what was with people wanting to touch him?—but Colin held on. “Last time I checked, you hated to have to work with people except Batman.”
Damian scrubbed at his face. “I feel the need to be around people, and I don’t like it.”
“So you want human companionship? That’s not a huge thing,” Colin said quietly.
“It is for me,” Damian replied. He looked at Colin, who finally took his hand away. “Are you coming or not?”
“Yeah, I guess I am,” Colin sighed. “If I die, I’m haunting you until the end of time, though.”
“You’re not going to die,” Damian muttered, but they both climbed into the plane. Before he turned on the engine, he flicked off the automatic GPS. Pennyworth likely already knew that he’d taken the Batplane, but by the time Grayson came looking for him, they’d be gone.
That was the plan, anyway.
He plugged in the necessary coordinates—there was a storehouse in the Himalayas that his grandfather had for various war prizes. Something niggled at him, buzzed under his skin. That was where he needed to be.
Even on full throttle, it would take some time for the Batplane to get there. Colin leaned back in his seat. “Isn’t Batman going to be really mad?”
More than likely, but Damian steered his mind away from that. “Whatever,” he dismissed. His impulsivity hadn’t changed much. “He can’t cage me.”
Colin flinched momentarily, before looking out the window.
“I don’t think that was what he had in mind. He’s just worried about you,” Colin said softly.
Damian cut his gaze away from the window shield to Colin. “Why are you arguing for him?”
“I could see how much he cared about you,” the redhead insisted, “when he entered the ring after we’d stopped Zsasz. It’s one thing to choose a different fight within Gotham. It’s another to fly to a different country halfway around the world.”
He felt the guilt rise up in his chest, hot and choking, but he swallowed. “I need to do this,” he finally said, turning his gaze back to the sky in front of him.
Colin huffed. “Of course you do.” He got up from the fellow pilot seat and wandered back into the passenger section, closing the door behind him, leaving Damian alone with his thoughts and his guilt.
What was so important about this buzzing? It was more...telepathic than anything else, and it wasn’t invasive, but more like...a cherished friend or sibling calling out for attention.
Damian snorted. He didn’t have a cherished sibling, and the closest he had to a cherished friend was Grayson, and Grayson was more likely to be pissed than calling out for attention at this moment.
There’ll be another screaming match, and possible grounding from patrol for at least two weeks. But whatever this was would be worth it—he could tell.
At least, he hoped so.
The next few hours were spent in quiet contemplation. He suspected Colin had fallen asleep, which was all right. The sky never really changed—the Batplane always coordinated for the flight with the least weather problems if it had that luxury.
Finally, as the plane touched down in an abandoned landing strip, Damian quietly typed in instructions as Colin woke up slowly. “So, I’m just going to wait here for you?”
“That’s the plan,” Damian smirked, bundling up and grabbing his pack. “Thanks for coming.”
“No prob,” Colin yawned. “Give me a beep if you need help.”
“-tt-. Like I would.”
Colin laughed, and tilted back in the seat, closing his eyes. “See you.”
“See you,” Damian murmured, climbing out of the plane and watching the door close up. He backed up a few paces, and suddenly the plane began to turn, to get ready to take off.
His handheld computer confirmed: AUTOPILOT ENGAGED.
Colin appeared at the window, banging on it, clearly angry. Damian shook his head in apology. Colin might never forgive him for this, but he had brought Colin for this exact purpose, even if he might have stretched the truth a little.
Whatever was calling to him had the power to get him home.
Sighing, he started walking. The warehouse wasn’t too far from here, but he had no doubt he’d be met with a welcoming committee. He had to keep his mind clear.
As he walked, he saw no one in the hills, but that didn’t mean anything. The League used ninjas, after all. He kept his scanner going for life signs. Little things were picked up—likely small wildlife—no large signs as complicated as a human being. He still felt the prickling sense at the back of his head that he was being watched, and he likely was, and this location was structurally unsound from protecting him—he was at the foot of a valley. He could still defend himself adequately, if it came to that, but he would prefer to be on higher ground.
The valley began to arc up, and his GPS was buzzing more urgently; he was close. The cold air was starting to seep through his heavy coat to his sweater underneath, but if a fight came, he was ditching the coat. It would weigh him down.
His katana was strapped to his back underneath the coat, but he could still access the hilt if he needed it. He resettled the strap—it was cutting into his shoulder—feeling nervous energy flood him. He was good, especially with Grayson’s training, but if his grandfather had many guards...
He couldn’t think of that now.
He stopped in front of a rock face. It wasn’t sheer, but craggy and marked by wind erosion. His GPS told him this was the location. “So where’s the door?” he mused, running a hand over the rock in front of him. His fingers touched something smooth, made mechanically so, and the rock disappeared, a long hallway draped in shadow appearing instead. With a quick glance at his surroundings, he ducked inside.
The air was warmer—much warmer. There didn’t appear to be climate control, but this part of the world wasn’t known for geothermal vents, either. He decided not to think about it as he pulled off his pack, shucking his coat and tucking it inside his pack, before hoisting it on again, making sure to leave his katana free.
The buzzing was stronger inside; it led him down a path through numerous crates that had no label. He had no doubt that the inside of these crates alone would set up a man and his many generations following, but he had more important quarry. The buzzing led him to another turn, and then, after two more blocks, something stood there that didn’t belong.
It was a crate standing up, with a latched door and something on the top in the same kind of circular script that was on his watch. He felt for it, comparing the two symbols—not the same symbols, but definitely the same script. He started to run towards it, the buzzing overwhelming him. It should be making him dizzy, but instead, he felt clarity. He put his hand on the door, trying to understand, but then the buzzing disappeared, and he stumbled for a moment, before something abruptly heated within his pocket. He yelped, emptying it.
A tiny golden key fell to the floor and chimed as it hit the ground. He knelt, picking it up cautiously. It wasn’t hot anymore; rather, it felt good in his hand. Like it belonged. Carefully, he inserted it into the lock on the latch. It turned.
Taking a deep breath, he pulled the crate door open and looked inside.
“Where is Damian?” Dick growled in the Bat-voice, pacing back and forth. Goddamnit, that kid was going to be the death of him.
Tim watched him pace, frowning. “Just because he turned off the internal GPS doesn’t mean he turned off the external GPS.”
Dick looked at Tim. “You think I haven’t thought about that?” He pulled a hand through his hair, scowling. “I’m getting crossed wires on it. I’ve got O on it, she’s trying to call up the internal feed, but there’s some kind of interference. And in the meantime, I have no idea where he is.”
“He’s probably out making a mess we’ll have to clean up,” Tim muttered. “And Vicki Vale’s still investigating us. Fantastic.”
“Tim,” Dick snapped. “Have you not heard anything about recent events? Damian almost died, and you’re worried about PR? Priorities, man.”
“The fact is he didn’t die, and he’s currently who-knows-where, perhaps wreaking vengeance on the person who did it for sheer sadistic pleasure, which we’ll have to take the fall for,” Tim argued. “How did he get shot anyway? I thought he took pride in being a ninja.”
“I had left my back open, and the villain of the week decided to take advantage. Damian ducked in front of me,” Dick said tiredly. “I think he forgot about the Kevlar in the heat of the moment.”
Tim opened his mouth, but then the icon for Oracle showed up and Barbara’s distorted voice came through the intercom. “I’ve got the Batplane online.” She pulled up the monitor, and Dick and Tim gathered at the viewscreen. To their surprise, it was not Damian who showed up, but Colin.
“Colin?” Dick asked with some surprise. “What are you doing in the Batplane?”
The boy blushed, rubbing the back of his head. “Damian asked me to come with him to the Himalayas because he had to find something. He didn’t know what it was, but he needed to find it.”
“And he didn’t ask me because...?”
“He said he needed to do this himself.”
“Great. We not only have a psychopath, we have a psychopath who feels like he’s on a mission,” Tim muttered.
“Tim, not helping.”
“But you’re not currently in the Himalayas,” Dick pointed out to Colin.
Colin flushed with anger. “That’s because the jerk engaged the autopilot after he got out! I was willing to wait for him, y’know, in case he needed help, but he got out, and sent me back to Gotham! What if he needs help or something? I’ll be too far away.”
Dick paled. “He’s in the Himalayas alone?”
“Whatever he needed was in one of the League of Shadows warehouses,” Colin continued, unaware of Dick’s fading color.
“He’s in the Himalayas alone at one of the League’s warehouses without backup?”
“Yeah,” Colin grumped. “Um, Batman, I’m really sorry that he didn’t let me stay--.”
“Tim, get the rocket ready to go, I need to be in the Himalayas two hours ago,” Dick ordered, pulling up the cowl. “Colin, Tim will make sure you get home safely.”
“Is Damian in trouble?”
“You have no idea,” Dick growled.
“Master Richard, if I might intrude,” Alfred’s voice floated from the elevator, and Dick paused to look at the butler.
“Master Damian is right here,” from behind Alfred, Damian appeared, looking vaguely sheepish. On the viewscreen behind Tim, Colin’s mouth dropped open, as did Tim’s (but for a different reason).
Dick stalked over to Damian, crossing his arms and looming over his protégé. “What. Did. You. Think. You. Were. Doing.”
Damian met his gaze, looking almost apologetic. “There was something I needed to do. I didn’t engage with anyone from the League. It was unguarded—no gas, no anything.”
“What did you need to do?” Dick hissed out. Colin blushed, and Tim looked up, pursing his lips in a silent whistle. Very rarely did Dick show his anger at Damian in front of witnesses, as a favor to Damian and to himself—he must be furious.
“Can I show you?” Damian offered. “I parked her at the top of Wayne Tower.”
Dick stared, momentarily thrown. “What?”
“Let me show you,” Damian insisted, offering his hand. “You’ll understand once you see her.”
Still angry, but recognizing Damian had his reasons, Dick took the proffered limb, and let Damian lead him into the elevator. Once the doors closed, Tim sighed. “I didn’t expect that.”
“What, Master Tim?” Alfred inquired, picking up the dishes that had been supper.
“How he looked. I mean, Dick warned me, but...it’s a change.”
“Um, still here?” Colin said softly.
Tim turned back to the viewscreen. “The Batplane will land in the bunker. I’ll take you back to the orphanage once you get here, okay?”
“Okay,” Colin agreed. The viewscreen turned off.
Tim pulled at his hair. “This could’ve been a disaster.”
“Might I recommend, Master Tim, that if you cannot trust Master Damian, at least trust Master Richard?” Alfred said carefully. “He knows Master Damian better than anyone else.”
“He’s a monster, Alfred,” Tim said with a sigh, sitting down at the chair facing the computer.
“Perhaps,” Alfred allowed. “But he’s getting better.”
“This thing you needed to do—was it a Time Lord thing?” Dick asked angrily as the elevator climbed to the top of the tower.
Damian met his eyes, calm and even a little excited. “Yes. You’ll understand when you see her, I promise.” As the elevator doors opened, Damian towed Dick up the remaining set of stairs to the roof access door, showing Dick proudly what stood there.
Dick raised a brow behind the cowl at the innocuous crate with a latchkey. “This is her?”
Damian was already opening the door. “Come inside, Grayson.” Dick followed, still angry, but after he walked into the crate, his mouth dropped.
“It’s bigger on the inside.”
Damian glanced at Grayson nervously as his mentor slowly pulled the cowl back, rotating around to take in the sight of her. A thrill of pride vibrated in his chest—his ship, his TARDIS.
A gift left from his biological mother.
“Damian, she’s beautiful,” Grayson breathed out, finally meeting his eyes again. Damian flushed with pleasure—she was. The console was orderly and colorful, with a glass floor. The lighting wasn’t hard on the eyes—it was a soft white rather than harsh fluorescents—and it shone on the rounded curves of the ship itself. A staircase wound up and led to other halls, halls Damian could hardly wait to explore.
His TARDIS. A creature of refined beauty.
“She’s telepathic. As soon as I integrated my Time Lord consciousness, she awoke and pinged me. I had to get her—I couldn’t leave her in my grandfather’s hands,” Damian confessed, running a hand over the console. Beneath his hand, the ship hummed. “From what records are here, my biological mother promised her to my grandfather in exchange for taking me in and protecting me, but she never promised him a key.”
Damian held up the small golden key that had appeared when he showed up at her door, smirking. “There’s something called a perception filter—it changes how you view something—and my biological mother made sure it was extra-concentrated around me. It’s why my father’s paternity test came out positive. I believed I was his son, and so my DNA matched.”
Grayson’s eyes widened. “That explains the watch, then.”
Damian nodded, looking back to the console, tracing buttons carefully. “She’s a TARDIS—Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. She can travel through time and space—it’s how I got here before Colin. She’s wonderful.”
Grayson’s hand on his shoulder and squeezing lightly wasn’t new, but the lack of breath that came with it was. “I can tell.”
“Am I still grounded for releasing a sentient ship from my grandfather’s predatory grasp?”
Grayson pursed his lips. “One week, instead of two. Besides, you can’t patrol until your new suit comes in anyway.” He winked. “That’s what we’ll tell Tim, anyway.”
Damian fought a smile.
“But you don’t disappear like that without telling me again,” Grayson added seriously, folding his arms across his chest. “I don’t care if the Green Lanterns are telling you they need you on your home planet or whatever. You tell me, got it, kid?”
Damian nodded, shoving his hands inside his pockets.
“I can understand why you did it, though,” Grayson almost sounds...wistful. “I wouldn’t want her with Ra’s al Ghul, either.”
Damian ducked his head. “Thank you, Grayson.”
His father had returned, they had stopped Hurt (who shot Grayson, and even if the Joker said Hurt was taken care of, Damian intended to find the bastard and stop him for forever), and Damian being-a-Time-Lord had been explained, and his father hadn’t kicked him out of Gotham for not being his son.
He was still working with Grayson, and working on his TARDIS in the off hours—he was beginning to suspect she manufactured problems just so they had more time together—because she wasn’t up to space flight yet, and though his father insisted he get a tutor, everything was going well.
Which, naturally, meant that things were going to take a turn for the worse soon. It was coming; Damian just didn’t know how soon.
He’d been reading bits and pieces of the history his biological mother had stored on his TARDIS (she’d taught him the language telepathically). He hailed from a planet called Gallifrey.
Strangely, his biological mother left out details of her personal history, not even her name. He didn’t like it, but then, if you were hiding your child from something, would it not protect the child if they were unaware of their origins?
He still had not introduced his father, Drake, or Pennyworth to his TARDIS. Pennyworth would like it, he had no doubt, but she’d fuss. His father and Drake...were incapable of understanding. She would allow them to lose track of the control room and they’d never be found again, simply because they once caused him pain.
No, it was best not to introduce them to her.
She liked Grayson well enough, if the happy thrill he received every time Grayson entered the TARDIS was any indicator, and she itched to take them both away, but each time he’d talked her down; he and Grayson had responsibilities to Gotham.
One day, she would stop listening and take them away; but that day was long into the future. He thinks. He can’t be entirely sure; she was on her own for a long time.
For right now, he was in costume, waiting agitatedly for Grayson to join him on the roof. His TARDIS warbled at him, wanting his attention, but he blocks it out, because it sounds like the Joker got out of New Arkham, and Damian still hasn’t repaid him for the drugging and the clown nose.
He shifts from foot to foot. Something is starting to eat at him, making him restless. He just wants Grayson to get here, so they can patrol.
There’s a repeated whooshing sound, and Damian whirls around, watching rather incredulously a blue police box come into existence. The blue is faded, but she gives off the same vibe his TARDIS gives off, only hers’ is more...maternal. Warmer.
The door opens slowly, and a man with floppy brown hair, a brown suit with white pinstripes, and white Chucks peeks his head out. “’Ello!” he said cheerily. “I’m the Doctor.”
Damian arched a brow. “Oh?”
“Donna, you can come out—Donna’s my current companion, very ginger, but that’s all right, I’m rude and not ginger, so we balance each other out or something.”
“Oi, Spaceman,” the redheaded woman scolds, following him out. She’s wearing a draped plum top and jeans, and her arms are folded over her chest. “Don’t overwhelm the child.”
Damian stands up straighter. “I’m not a child.”
“’Course not,” the Doctor grins. He runs a hand through his hair, looking over Gotham. “Strange though, I didn’t expect her to bring us here—what can I do for Gotham?”
His TARDIS trills, only slightly discordant. She’s happy to see this Doctor, but there’s wariness mixed with the happiness. It puts Damian on edge.
The Doctor’s eyes fall past Damian to his TARDIS, and when he meets Damian’s eyes again, he looks very, very excited. “What? What? I mean, sorry, what? It’s not possible—how? How did you survive?”
Damian gets the sense he won’t like where this conversation goes.
“Survive what?” he asks cautiously, pinching the bridge of his nose.
The Doctor takes out a thin silver rod, pushing a button and lighting up the end, scanning it over Damian. It whines softly, and the Doctor reads whatever the rod tells him, his face growing more and more shocked. “How? I didn’t even know—how?”
“Doctor,” Donna says harshly, tapping her foot against the roof of Wayne Enterprises. “You’ve gone all Spaceman.”
The Doctor ignores her, rushing over to Damian and pulling him into a hug. Damian, shocked at first, tried to pull himself out of the hold, but the Doctor apparently mistakes it for something else, because his hold grows tighter and there is definitely sniffling. “I’m so sorry for not finding you earlier,” the Doctor tells him, finally letting his go but retaining his hold on Damian’s shoulders. He looks him over. “I didn’t even know—why didn’t Susan tell me she had had a child?”
“Who?” Damian shrugs off the Doctor’s hands, eyeing the obvious madman. “Who is Susan?”
“Your mother, my granddaughter,” the Doctor says dismissively. “If I had known she had a child--.”
“Doctor,” Donna says quietly, and there’s no sharpness in her tone this time. She looks very sad. “With what you’ve told me, are you surprised that she hid him?”
“What happened?” Damian asks, needing to know why there’s all this silence in his head. The Doctor helps, somewhat, but he’s a whisper in a mind that’s accustomed to shouts.
“What is going on here?” Grayson’s voice is a welcome distraction to the emotions choking him in his throat, and Grayson’s voice is deep in the Bat-Voice. He must have the cowl up.
He must not be pleased at these two unknowns on the top of Wayne Enterprises, either. Fuck.
The Doctor clears his throat. “Batman! Oh, that’s brilliant. And my great-grandson must be...” he looks Damian up and down. “Oh, you’re Robin. That’s absolutely brilliant. Fitting heritage, too, considering the amount of times Susan and me saved this world.”
Grayson lands lightly by Damian, looking at him through narrowed lenses. “Robin?”
“He’s my mother’s grandfather,” Damian supplies.
Grayson looks at the Doctor and Donna, lenses still narrowed. Donna’s back to folding her arms over her chest while the Doctor rocks back and forth on his heels, excited like a child at meeting Batman. “You choose to show up now?”
“In my defense, I didn’t know he existed,” the Doctor holds up his hands defensively. “Susan hid him from all of us, something that may have saved his life.”
Grayson shifts, and Damian can tell Grayson’s close to either clasping a hand on his shoulder or shaking the Doctor. He touches Grayson’s gauntlet lightly. Grayson glances at him, and Damian inclines his head slightly. Grayson shifts again, relaxing.
“Explain,” Batman raps out.
“There was a war between the Time Lords and the Daleks, and we were losing,” the Doctor admits, shoving his hands in his pockets. He looks old suddenly, his brown eyes having lost all merriment and replaced by ancient hurt. “The Daleks...the absolute personification of evil in the universe. We were losing, and we couldn’t let the Daleks win. If they defeated us, they’d kill us all and take over the universe. So I did something, and now the Time Lords are no more. Neither are the Daleks, but it means Gallifrey is gone.”
“Is that why there’s all this silence in my head?” Damian asks carefully, forgetting about Grayson for a moment. “I keep expecting to hear something, but it’s never there.”
The ancient pain in the Doctor’s eyes deepens. “Yes.”
Grayson shifts again, reminding Damian he’s there. He looks at him; Grayson’s lips are pressed together. If they were out of costume, Grayson would no doubt pull him into one of his insufferable (perhaps not) hugs, but while they’re in costume, Grayson is Batman.
Batman does not hug.
“Mind if I take a look at your TARDIS, make sure she’s running smoothly?” the Doctor asks, breaking the moment. The pain’s been shuffled away, but Damian’s got his great-grandfather’s measure now. The pain is always there; it never goes away. He’ll always hate himself for killing his people.
“We needed to go on patrol,” Damian begins, looking at Grayson, but Grayson holds up a hand.
“If it doesn’t take too long, we can take a moment.”
“Brilliant,” the Doctor beams. “Come on, Donna, don’t you want to see the inside of a TARDIS that isn’t mine?”
“I’m good,” Donna snorts.
“Well come on, then, Robin, and I do need your real name, I can’t just call my great-grandson by his title,” the Doctor is already propelling Damian into his TARDIS, but Grayson is staying outside, no doubt to keep an eye on the Doctor’s companion.
The Doctor whistles at the inside of his TARDIS, and Damian feels that little thrill of pride that is both his and hers’. “Brilliant,” the Doctor enthuses, getting on his knees to look at the circuitry. “You don’t know much about TARDISes, but you’re able to connect her for space travel. Brilliant. You must get it from your mother.”
“I’ve always been good with machines,” Damian feels compelled to say. He shifts slightly. “I repaired my father’s Batmobile to make it fly.”
The Doctor eyes him through the mess of wires that he’s scanning. “Is that Batman your father?”
“Grayson? No,” Damian says hurriedly. The thought...”No, I was raised believing that my father was the original Batman.” Identities...blast. “My mother believed it as well, thanks to the perception filter surrounding me.”
“So what’s your name, then?” the Doctor goes on, continuing to scan the wires. The whine from the rod in his hand is somewhat soothing. “Have you chosen your name?” He grins at Damian. “Once I graduated the academy, I chose my name, and it’s been my name for several centuries now.”
Damian shifts again. “My name is Damian Wayne. I don’t see the need to change it.”
The Doctor gestures to him while examining the interior. “There’s some crossed wires here, I can fix them if you like,” the TARDIS sparks. She doesn’t want to Doctor to fix it. “Okay, okay...you don’t have to change your name. Susan never did.”
“Can you tell me about her?” Damian asks softly, leaning against the railing as the Doctor pulls himself up.
The Doctor looks pensive. “She was brilliant, like you, and she had tremendous compassion. She loved humans, more than I did at the time. She was good with the sciences and maths, not so much other subjects. She’d only had exposure to Gallifreyan literature and such, and though our literature inspired human mythology, it was still a difficult transition, and she never quite managed it. However, she could pass as human better than I ever could.”
“Why did she separate from you?”
“Well, all children have to separate from their families at some point,” the Doctor told him, clasping his shoulder and smiling widely. “Leave the nest, as it were,” he nods at Damian’s ‘R’ insignia. “She found something that caught her up in her very soul, and so she followed it. I found other Companions, but I still miss her. I thought her dead from the Time War, but perhaps she’s not. Maybe I can find her again.”
“If you do...” Damian clears his throat and looks away. “Well.”
The Doctor squeezes his shoulder. “I’ll send her your way.”
Grayson sticks his head inside the TARDIS. “Robin, we need to go. The Joker’s causing havoc, and Br-Batman’s on the other side of the world.”
Damian separates himself from his great-grandfather with ease. Before he exits the TARDIS, he stops the Doctor. “Will I see you again?”
The Doctor runs a hand through his already-messy hair. “Quite possibly. Our TARDISes have beads on each other now—we can find each other again.”
Damian quirked his lips in a small smile, and the Doctor hugged him again. Really, why were so many of the people around him addicted to physical contact?
“Good luck, Damian Wayne,” the Doctor tells him. He walks out, calling, “Donna! Where would you like to go next?”
“A spa,” Donna says flatly, opening the TARDIS door. “You did promise.”
Damian and Grayson watch the Doctor’s TARDIS take off, and Grayson briefly clasps him on the shoulder. “You okay?”
“I’m fine. We have work to do.”
Grayson treads carefully around him for the next few days, no doubt watching for imminent signs of any kind of mental problem. And, true, now that he’s met his great-grandfather, he knows what other Time Lords feel like, and he misses the Doctor—not necessarily for the man himself, but for his presence—but it is also like the Doctor arriving out of the blue kick-started his latent telepathic powers. It’s not that he can read minds, but he can feel them, even the unpowered human ones.
Pennyworth’s mind is still, but there are depths there, depths he respects the man too much to probe. Grayson’s mind is bright and warm, while his father’s mind is darker and more knotted. Drake’s mind is as dark as his father’s, but there are more sharp edges.
If being around Drake was intolerable before, now it’s absolutely awful.
Oracle’s mind is sharp and reflective, like her computer screens. She doesn’t hurt, per se, but he’s very much aware of how he’s measured within the mirrors of her mind.
Brown’s mind is similar to Grayson’s, but she has more labyrinths than he does—or perhaps the labyrinths Grayson’s mind falls into do not appear as labyrinths. Cain’s mind is shadowed, but it is purer than all of their minds—she, more than everyone else, knows what she wants and what she values.
It’s almost—he cringes—comforting, the press of minds around his. The closest description he can use is reaching for walls in the dark. The knowledge of where the walls are is a physical comfort when you cannot see what is in front of you.
His great-grandfather does not come to visit after that brief moment of meeting on the top of Wayne Enterprises—unlike Grayson, who is indignant on his behalf, Damian suspects that the Doctor has duties of his own, and he must attend to them before he can relax and visit family. Used to physical and emotional distance, he sees no purpose in complaining about the lack of contact from his only biological family remaining.
“That way of thinking, while all well and good, Master Damian, can easily lead to dissolving blame when it is required,” Pennyworth reminds him when Damian airs this after Grayson has left the room, muttering about emotionally-stunted family (his father had not reacted well to some of the reports that Grayson had logged, and had brought up that Grayson had not given him full detail about this mysterious Doctor, leading to a (now frequent) argument between them).
“Perhaps,” Damian shrugs, eating some grapes while perched on the counter. “But he can travel through time and space—it makes sense if I only see him sporadically.”
“In all honesty, Master Damian, I would have anticipated that for a man who has lost everything of his home planet that he would have stuck to his one remaining family member like glue.”
Damian inclines his head—that was what Grayson had anticipated as well—but in all honesty, he didn’t know to expect his great-grandfather, and though he misses the other Time Lord, it’s more because he’s a Time Lord, not because he’s the Doctor.
He just doesn’t know how to put that strange twist into words that can bear the explanation.
He’s about to pop another grape in his mouth when his throat suddenly closes, like someone’s choking him. But there’s no accompanying pressure on his neck that would mean someone invisible was doing so—he just can’t breathe.
Pennyworth looks at him when he hears the choke, and his eyes widen. He pulls Damian off the counter, clearly about to utilize the Heimlich maneuver, but Damian waves his hand frantically; he’s not choking on a grape. He just...can’t breathe.
“TARDIS,” he chokes out. In his TARDIS, he’ll breathe. Something’s wrong. Something’s terribly wrong.
“Master Richard,” Pennyworth calls out, a rare note of panic in his voice. Grayson ducks his head inside the kitchen; his eyes widen when he sees Damian on the floor. “Get him to the TARDIS.”
If it had been any other time, Grayson scooping him up like any other child would have angered him, but his vision is beginning to blacken, and the feel and sound of Grayson’s heartbeat stifles his panic a little.
When he’s able to breathe, he’ll also enjoy the fact that Grayson stooped a little to pick him up.
He’s almost fully to unconsciousness when Grayson gets them to the roof, pulling open the TARDIS doors rudely and getting inside. The pressure lightens enough that Damian can breathe again, but there’s still that catch on the back of his throat that makes him cough and cough. Grayson lets him go, placing a hand on his shoulder as Damian nearly bends in two, coughing dryly as he struggles with breath.
“What’s the problem?” Grayson asks anxiously, hovering beside him.
“It’s the Doctor,” Damian can finally manage, the knowledge coming to him at once. He walks slowly to the TARDIS console, plugging in coordinates. “I hope you’re ready for time flight, girl,” he mumbles to her. “We need to go way back.”
“What’s going on with the Doctor?” Grayson demands to know. He’s angry, but the full force of his anger is directed at the absent Time Lord. “What’s he done?”
Damian stares into space a moment as the pressure increases at the back of his throat. His pulse jumps in response. “Something very, very stupid.”
When the TARDIS lands, Damian collapses to the floor, curling up in the fetal position as his breath rasps out of his throat. Dick’s already next to him, but Damian waves him on. “Doctor,” he croaks. “Now. Before...” he coughs. “Before he disappears again.”
Dick nods, though his intestines are tying themselves into knots, and he hurls himself out the door. It’s cold, and the shock of cold air immediately seeps through his thin sweater and jeans. There’s a Roman, holding a dead girl, and a man in a fez. It has to be the Doctor, even though he has a different face. Before the Doctor can press a button on his wristband, Dick’s already tackling him, pressing a forearm to his throat. “What did you do?” he growls out in the Bat-voice.
The Doctor widens his eyes, and then he beams. “You must be the Batman I met that time! Brilliant!”
Dick really, really doesn’t have time for this. “What did you do? Damian’s dying, Doctor!”
“Strange; I didn’t think about that,” the man beneath him murmurs. In response, Dick presses his forearm tighter to his throat.
“Oi!” the Roman says fretfully, but Dick ignores him.
“Long story short,” the Doctor wheezes. “There’s this ultimate prison. I was put into it, and it made the universe end, because it’s like I never existed. But I get out so we can save the universe in 2010.”
“If you never existed, then Damian never existed,” Dick realizes with horror, getting up and helping the Doctor up.
“That’s right. Currently, he’s protected by his TARDIS, which is meant to protect Time Lords from great big complicated space-time events while traveling the Time Vortex, but soon it won’t be enough. Soon it will be like he never existed at all.”
“How do I prevent that?” Dick asks quietly, moisture burning his eyes at the thought of Damian never existing.
The Doctor grasps his shoulders and locks gazes with him. “If this happens like I think it will,” he says quietly, so quietly even the Roman can’t hear them, “I will need to be remembered into existence. I’ve got Amy for that; she can do it. But Damian needs you. I can tell that you’re willing to fight for him; fight to remember him. Once you do, he will exist again, just like I will exist again. Remember him, Batman.”
Dick nods, a lump in his throat.
“You don’t have much time,” the Doctor went on, looking up at the sky. “You should get him home. Once this mess is cleared up, I’ll come to visit. Extended, of course. I’ll bring by Amy and Rory and maybe River, and I’ll explain how certain things work for a Time Lord, especially a pubescent one.” He pats Dick on the cheek. “I like you. You’re good for him.”
The TARDIS wails in the background, and Dick jumps. “Go,” the Doctor urges. “Remember him, Batman.”
Dick wastes no time getting back into the TARDIS, and when he does, he sees Damian gone grey on the floor. His breathing—what remains—is shallow and pained. “Grayson?”
“Don’t speak,” Dick soothes, gathering the boy into his arms. He looks at the TARDIS console. “Take us home?”
The TARDIS murmurs at him, and levers slide into the place. The takeoff and landing is smooth, and very quick. “Damian--.”
“Take me inside,” Damian whispers, and it breaks Dick’s heart to hear him so broken. “Take me to a bed.”
He nods, lifting up his partner with ease. The TARDIS landed in the Batcave, and it’s no trouble to get from the Cave to Damian’s bedroom. While Dick tucks him in gently, Damian reaches out for his arm. “Don’t leave me.”
“Wasn’t planning on it,” Dick promises, climbing into bed beside him. Damian’s curled into his side, his breathing shallower and shallower, but he’s finally asleep, and though he hates himself for it, soon Dick falls asleep as well, his arm around Damian, feeling his two hearts beat slower and slower through his back.
When Dick wakes up, he reaches over to ruffle—
He stops. What?
He sits straight up. He’s in the one of the guest rooms—he must have been really tired last night after patrol, to drop dead asleep in one of the guest rooms closest to the library. What happened last night, again?
He and Tim had been patrolling the Narrows last night. After they’d finished their reports, Tim had waved a cheerful good night and disappeared upstairs, while Dick finished up with taking off the suit and making sure it was hung properly. He’d looked to remind—
He growls to himself, running feverish hands through his hair. He swings his legs out of the bed, looking on the other side of the bed as a pure reflex as he gets out of bed. For whatever reason, he expected someone to be there next to him. But that makes no sense; Dick hasn’t dated, let alone gone home with anyone since Bruce disappeared into time and then returned. Why the hell would someone be in bed with him?
He senses something’s missing. But he doesn’t know what.
As he exits the room, Tim’s passing by, clearly going to the kitchen for breakfast. He glances at the guest room and then at Dick. “Too tired to drop in your own room?” he teases.
Dick grins slightly, rubbing his head sheepishly. “I guess?”
“Alfred says breakfast’s ready, so if you’re going to shower, make it quick,” Tim calls over his shoulder as he continues down the hall. “And Bruce is joining us, so you definitely don’t want to waste time.”
Dick chuckles as he heads towards his own room. He’ll shower after breakfast, but he’ll change out of the jeans and sweater he had been wearing yesterday before he went out on patrol.
He pauses in his room as he starts to shuck off his sweater—what is that katana doing in here? He pads to it as he throws the sweater onto his bed, lifting it. It’s heavier than what he would go for, and it’s definitely not his. It’s not Tim’s, or Bruce’s, for that matter. So to whom does it belong to?
He places it back down on his desk. He’ll think about it after breakfast.
He changes quickly, pulling socks over his feet. Though the summer heat presses against the windows, he feels cold.
He pads downstairs, ruffling his hair into something that doesn’t scream Just got out of bed and greets the assembled people in the kitchen. Alfred’s making eggs, Bruce has his paper, and Tim’s pouring orange juice. Dick pulls a plate and spare cutlery out of the cabinets, setting another place next to him.
“Who’s that for, Dick?” Tim inquires, honestly curious. If it had been Jason, there would have been a leer involved. Bruce looks over the top of his paper, his eyes narrowed, and even Alfred turns to look.
Dick looks down at the plate and cutlery in his hands, and then at the table. He doesn’t need to set a spare out—there’s already one for him, but he’d grabbed it for—
“Sorry, I spaced out,” he says with a laugh, putting the spare setting back in its’ place. “Must be more tired than I thought.”
“Just maybe,” Tim teases, pushing a glass of orange juice his way as he sits. “I didn’t think patrol last night was that bad, in comparison, but if it affected you that badly...”
Bruce’s eyes haven’t relaxed from their squint. It never ceases to make Dick feel like he’s being evaluated and found wanting. “Perhaps you should take tonight off,” Bruce says finally as Alfred gives Dick a plate of eggs.
“Thanks, Alfred,” Dick flashes a quick grin at the butler, before focusing on Bruce. “I don’t think that’s necessary. I’ll sleep some more after breakfast, and besides, if I take the night off, Robin will have to take the night off too--.”
“No I won’t,” Tim says, tilting his head as he surveys Dick. “I can work alone, you know that.”
Dick blinks and thinks through what he said. “I--.”
“Did you run into Scarecrow or Ivy last night?” Bruce asks of Tim. “Something that he would’ve been exposed to?”
“No—it was really quiet, especially for the Narrows.” Tim hesitates. “Besides, if it was something Dick had been exposed to, I would have been exposed to it as well, and I’m not acting oddly.”
“Sitting right here,” Dick says, annoyed, starting to eat his eggs. “Besides, you all seem to be forgetting something.”
“What’s that?” Bruce asks, putting down his newspaper.
Dick frowns at him. “You don’t feel it, that sense that you’ve forgotten something?”
Bruce’s eyes narrow even further and he leans forward. “What would I have forgotten?”
“That’s just it, I don’t know, but something’s missing—no, someone’s missing.” Dick stabs his fork into the innocent eggs murderously. “I just...don’t know who.”
Bruce looks at Tim, and then at Alfred. “Full bloodwork,” Bruce clips out, “and an MRI.”
Dick pushes himself away from the table. “I swear to you, I’m fine. There’s just someone missing who should be here. Bruce--,” and then it clicks, and he stares at Bruce. “Bruce, where’s your son?”
Tim’s eyebrows reach his hairline, and Bruce’s face falls into the perfectly blank expression that means he’s shocked. “What do you mean?”
“You know, your son with Talia al Ghul,” Dick says insistently.
“Dick, I hardly think--.”
“Damian!” Dick calls loudly. “You can come out now!”
Tim looks at Dick. “Dick--.”
“-tt.- Grayson, there was hardly a need to shout the house down,” Damian disapproves, leaning against the doorframe. “I was just about to join you all for breakfast.”
“We have breakfast at specific times for a reason, Damian,” Bruce lectures, picking his newspaper back up, as if that confrontation about Damian’s existence never happened.
“Yes father,” Damian parrots, joining Dick at the breakfast table, but his eyes are far happier than Dick has ever seen, and he nods to him when Tim’s attention is diverted, and they don’t need words to understand that Damian is saying thank you.
I had to bring the Doctor in at some point.
He's a much more important character in the sequel (yet to be named) that will hopefully fix the train wreck that was Series 6. Who knows.
As always, DVD commentary is available at my LJ.
Chapter 4: Part 3
“—and that’s how Time Lord puberty works,” the Doctor smiles down at Damian, who is transfixed in horror. “Now, since you’ve been human for longer than you’ve been Time Lord, your body thinks it needs to go into puberty far earlier than if you’d been Time Lord all your life. I’m not entirely sure how it works—it’s definitely timey-wimey, but according to my screwdriver, you are now fourteen, not ten.”
“Um,” Damian says intelligently, still stuck on what Time Lord puberty means.
“Mentally,” the Doctor knocks on Damian’s forehead with a knuckle lightly, “you’re far older than ten, yes? Well, when you regenerated, your body caught up to where your mind was. I mean, I’m over 900 years old, but I hardly look it, do I? Don’t answer that. The plus-side of your body’s hormones still thinking you’re partially human means your puberty will be far less than normal for Time Lord—it’s normally between seventy to one hundred years, but since it’s been kicked in earlier, it would not surprise me if your puberty was more like fifteen to twenty years, since humans are such children compared to Time Lords.”
Damian blinks, trying to understand, move his mind past the horror of the reality of puberty, before falling into another ditch. “Tw-twenty years?” he croaks.
The Doctor beams, adjusting his bowtie. “Such a short time, yes?”
Damian stares at him. “You mean I have to go through twenty years of-of—“ he cuts himself off, not even trusting hand gestures.
“Oi,” the Doctor says sternly. “Better than seventy, like it was for me. That’s when I met and married your great-grandmother, you know.”
“You got busy?” Damian snarks, before cringing back from the mental images.
“Time Lords Loom their children, not bear them like humans do,” the Doctor sniffs. “But in essence...yes.”
“Is it typical for Time Lords to find...” Damian fumbles for the right words, “their mates, during this time period?”
The Doctor scratches his head, before shrugging. “Typical, yeah. Granted, Time Lords tend to have more than one ‘mate’ throughout their lifetime, since we live so long, but very few bonds compare to that first one. Why? Got someone in mind?” he nudges Damian playfully.
Damian flushes. “N-no.”
“I can see you do,” the Doctor says gleefully.
He glares at his great-grandfather. He refuses to think about how his blood is up, how much harder it is not to give in and simply kill all those who stand opposing Batman, because he feels so frustrated and restless all the time.
Grayson would be disappointed if he gave into his baser instincts.
“You should get a fez,” the Doctor says suddenly, squinting at Damian. “Fezzes are cool—you’d look good in one.”
“I like fedoras,” spills out of Damian’s mouth before he can stop it. He flushes, but the Doctor’s only laughing and clapping his hands together once.
“Fedoras are cool,” the Doctor agrees. “So are Stetsons. I think I’m going to get one.”
Damian eyes him and chooses to say nothing. The female companion, Amelia, would likely keep the Doctor in line.
He liked her.
The male companion, Rory, was quiet, but he liked to—what was the term? Ah yes—‘fanboy’ over the fact that the Doctor’s great-grandson was Robin to Batman. Grayson had been perfectly patient to him, smiling and laughing and indulging Rory’s need to know all he was allowed, but still.
Damian did not like him.
The Doctor leans back on his hands, admiring the view of Gotham from the top of Wayne Enterprises. “Tell me about your childhood.”
Damian’s thrown a little, because the Doctor’s never indicated interest in how he was raised before.
The Doctor shrugs in response to Damian’s silence. “I heard that Tim Drake fellow mention something about being raised by assassins?”
If it was Drake saying it, it was likely uncomplimentary and unnecessarily judgmental, but Damian keeps that thought to himself. “I was raised by the League of Shadows and Talia al Ghul, daughter to Ra’s al Ghul, the head of the League of Assassins. Due to the perception filter surrounding my watch—“
“Chameleon circuit,” the Doctor interrupts.
“—she labored under the belief I was her son by blood. As far as I can tell, she still considers me her son, despite the fact that we are not related by blood, let alone species. She believed my father to be Batman, Bruce Wayne, and ensured I knew that belief while I was raised.”
“Don’t tell me circumstances,” the Doctor waves a hand. “Tell me about your childhood.”
“...I quickly learned my favorite weapon is the sword, though I am of course proficient with all manner of weaponry. My trainer who learned this was the unfortunate one who thought that taking my watch from me was a way of teaching me about the necessity of lack of attachments. I quickly proved him wrong.”
“Did you have contact with your mother?”
Strange; the Doctor calls Talia his mother despite that Susan is his biological mother. “Not until I was eight,” Damian admits, looking out into the city. “She is not...warm, like society believes mothers should be. Yet she will protect me when it is necessary, such as when my grandfather sought to use my body as the host for his soul.”
The Doctor turned to look at him, obviously demanding more details nonverbally.
“My grandfather was believed to have died, but there was a way for his spirit to live on through the use of Lazarus Pits—a spring that can revitalize one who is aging and bring the dead back to life.”
“Humans and their fixture with mortality,” the Doctor muses.
Something angers Damian about that offhand remark. “Perhaps because Time Lords live so long, they feel free to mock shorter-lived beings for being so concerned with their own mortality,” he snaps. “My grandfather’s spirit lived on, but he required a host, and unless it was someone of his own blood—so he said—the body would not last. He sought to use me, apparently telling my mother that had been the purpose of my existence,” Damian was too engrossed in the memories to notice the Doctor stiffening. “She fought him, sent me on to my father. But Batman was elsewhere, and when I arrived at the manor, I found that only Pennyworth and Drake were present. My grandfather’s forces attacked, and Grayson was forced to let the ninjas take Drake and I. We finally got free, but my grandfather almost took me over. My father stopped him, and then my mother took me away. We stayed away from Gotham until Dr. Hurt decided to attack my father. We rescued him.” Damian fell silent; those days following the end of the Black Glove (but not Hurt, obviously) were still confusing for him, since his father had been drawn into battle against Darkseid almost immediately following (or so it seemed).
“Sounds like a lot to take in,” the Doctor says lightly, eyes still fixed on Gotham. “Raised by assassins, eh? Interesting.”
“Grayson says he threatened you during the events of...” Damian trails off, not entirely certain what to call it.
“The Pandorica? Ah yes. You’ve got quite a champion in him.” The Doctor looks at him. “He has apologized, if that soothes you.”
“He’s overprotective,” Damian mutters.
The Doctor snorts. “And you aren’t of him?”
“That’s different,” Damian disagrees. “I’m a Time Lord.”
“Technically, since he’s flown with you on your TARDIS, he is your Companion,” the Doctor says comfortably. “Time Lords are always overprotective of their Companions. Or I am, at least, since I take them into danger so often. I doubt that’s a tradition you will break.”
“At least Grayson’s prepared,” Damian said, examining his hands.
The Doctor laughs. “I’d like to see someone put him in a corner. I doubt they’d win.”
“No, they never do.”
The Doctor stands up, offering his hand to Damian. Damian takes it, eyeing his great-grandfather cautiously. “I should probably rescue Rory before your father decides to do something awful.”
“Grayson will intervene,” Damian points out, but he follows the Doctor anyway, off the roof and into the elevator.
“Perhaps, but let’s stop Rory while he’s ahead, hm?”
The Doctor had departed with a cheery wave, his Companions with him, and since he had left, Damian felt more and more...angry. Frustrated.
The closest time to these particular feelings had been when he had first been left with his father, and he had better training now, more to live up to. And yet he found it harder and harder to rein himself in, to keep himself in control. More and more criminals found themselves with debilitating injuries at his hands, and more and more gym equipment was destroyed in his attempts to calm himself down.
Grayson was worried, he could tell. The only times he felt even remotely calm were around him or in his TARDIS, and he could not do either all the time. Drake’s presence became physically irritating, and his father...his father grated on him in a way he could not explain.
At one point, Grayson tried to talk about it.
“Damian, you okay?”
“Why would I be anything other than, Grayson?” he had snapped.
Grayson had been unperturbed, as he usually was around Damian, no matter what Damian said or did. “I don’t know, but the fact that you growled at Alfred for the first time in months is kind of a big indicator.”
Damian had closed his eyes, asking for patience. “I am fine, Grayson.”
Grayson had placed a hand on his shoulder, forcing Damian to look him in the eye (a hardly difficult task since his regeneration. Indeed, in the four-five months since his regeneration, he had grown, and could look Grayson in the eye now. He’s taller than Drake, something that filled him with satisfaction). “You’d tell me if there was anything wrong, right?” Grayson had asked quietly, his blue eyes concerned.
Damian had felt his face heat and his heart rate jump. He cursed his body and jerked his shoulder out of Grayson’s grasp. “I would if there was an actual problem, Grayson, which there is not.”
Grayson had quirked a brow while the concern in his eyes had deepened, turning his blue eyes darker. “Damian—“
“Drop it Grayson,” he had hissed. “I’m fine.”
Grayson had recognized the stubbornness in him, and had shrugged. “Fine, Damian.”
Even his father had attempted to talk to him, but Damian had left before the man could. The thing was, he was sure what the problem was, and he didn’t know how to talk about it.
It being puberty.
The Doctor (blast him) had been correct in that his body got its’ signals crossed when it came time to push him into puberty. Normally, the Doctor had explained, puberty only kicked in once the Time Lord turned ninety or so. But since Damian’s body had been human longer than it had been Time Lord...
Either way, he suffered exactly like a human male did during puberty, only it was somehow worse. His fluctuating emotions made it difficult to deal with his latent telepathy—though Time Lords naturally shielded themselves, thank the gods, they could be considered touch-telepaths, and every time Damian had honest skin-to-skin contact with someone (usually Grayson), he was bombarded with flashes of what they were thinking.
It didn’t help that his unconscious had latched quite firmly onto Grayson, either.
Oh, prior to the ‘Big Reveal’ (as Grayson had termed it), Damian had been aware that when puberty hit, it would likely latch onto Grayson, since Grayson had been the first person to be kind and understand him, and honestly reach out to him, and they were not related by blood. To the extent that he had thought about it, he had prepared for it, expecting it to fade once he found someone else.
But with the information the Doctor had imparted onto him, he wasn’t sure that it would fade.
Or if he wanted it to.
He had no doubt Grayson still looked on him as a child—and that was bothersome, in some respects—but it was also safer, because he knew he wasn’t ready for the kind of commitment Grayson seemed to crave. He was hardly ready for any sort of sexual contact, no matter how many mornings he woke up frustrated and aroused.
Although that aspect of puberty was awful and he despised it. He despised not being in control of his body, and puberty seemed to be nothing but lack of control. If there were any benefits, he had yet to see them.
Either way, the frustration added to his overall anger, and yet there was nothing he could do to alleviate it, and so, over time, he found himself in his TARDIS more and more, only exiting for food, patrol, and sparring. He even fell asleep at the console (the time he needed to sleep was much less than an average human, but more than a fully-adult Time Lord—the Doctor had mentioned the near-constant expense of energy during Time Lord puberty) more often than in his own bed.
Whenever Grayson came to check up on him (and the TARDIS had given him a key), he would take him to bed.
Damian would awake for a few moments while Grayson maneuvered him out of the TARDIS, usually long enough to ask, “Where are you taking me?”
“An actual bed,” Grayson would tease back, and then Damian would fall asleep again.
During this time, fighting crime in Gotham didn’t become any easier, and he was finding it to be even more difficult than it was in the beginning to not be lethal. Any hissed threat to Gray—Batman, he took personally, reminded of Hurt each and every time.
And being reminded of Hurt also meant being reminded of Hurt’s lack of accountability where Damian was concerned. He still didn’t know where Hurt was, and that agitated him—adding to his already-existing agitation.
And then Hurt came back, like they all do. He came back when Father was gone on a mission with the Justice League and Drake was away in Hong Kong, and Hurt targeted Grayson specifically.
Damian came to tasting the too-familiar aftertaste of chloroform. He was trussed up more than the usual mooks did; he knew that it was an old enemy. He wasn’t blindfolded, and he was in a warehouse, and he was in the dark.
Where was Grayson?
The press of the other man’s mind was a whisper, and Damian strained against his bonds. They were more expertly knotted than usual, and he picked at them, doing his best to pick up Grayson, anything, where was he, where was Grayson, what was going on?
And then there was a chuckle from the darkness, and Damian knew. He snarled with rage, shredding the ropes cord by cord. “Missing your circus boy?” Hurt cooed, patting Damian’s cheek with a gloved hand.
Damian bit at him and missed.
“Don’t worry, he’s alive for the moment, but unconscious,” Hurt continued, turning on a light and smiling at Damian, a truly mad glint in his eyes. “You can save him, but there are a few things you need to promise before you do.”
“Not this ‘soul’ bullshit again,” Damian growled. The ropes were coming apart, but not nearly fast enough to suit him.
Hurt continued as though Damian hasn’t spoken. “Shame Bruce didn’t stay dead, but once he returns, I’ll have my revenge on him, which will be you, wild and untamable, fighting his own father to the death and winning.” Hurt giggled, rocking back and forth on his heels. “I have the entire scene set up—just a throwback to Faust and Mephistopheles, and once you agree, and sign in blood, your circus boy will be let go, a little worse for the wear, perhaps unable to walk, perhaps unable to shit without help, but he’ll be alive. What do you say?”
The ropes came apart, and Damian hurled himself out of his chair, striking Hurt square in the face. “No.”
Hurt toppled to the ground, and Damian snarled at him again. “You and your petty delusions of divinity. Allow me to explain something very simple: Time Lord.” He kicked Hurt in the face viciously, reaching into his utility belt for the zip-strips. Technically, he should be arresting Hurt, but he had to find Grayson, and then he had the urge to be...inventive with Hurt, and then he would arrest Hurt.
The whisper in Damian’s mind grows until it’s comfortable again, and he finds Grayson unconscious. His pulse is slow and breathing is labored—he’s been drugged with something. There’s blood slowly flowing out of a nasty cut down one leg; it’s deep and long. Damian presses down on it with a compress from Grayson’s utility belt, calling Oracle and Batgirl. They’ll make sure Grayson gets the medical care he needs.
Damian has an appointment with Doctor Hurt.
Dick sits down in the cave with a sigh. Alfred had patched him right up, but the gash on his leg required stitches. Showering for the next week was going to be a pain.
Steph was practicing across the cave, pretending to ignore Dick. He let her; he needed to type up that report of how exactly Hurt had gotten the drop on them. He didn’t remember much, honestly. He and Damian had been in the Batbunker, suiting up for a night’s patrol. They hadn’t gotten far...and then the next thing he knew, he was waking up in the cave, aware of a throbbing pain in his leg, Babs, Steph, and Alfred hovering close by. “Where’s Damian?” he had croaked.
Babs had pursed her lips. “He’s dealing with Hurt, though he promised me he would take him to the police.”
“He didn’t say when,” Steph had added. She had pulled the Batgirl cowl off, and her forehead was furrowed. “He looked pretty pissed though.”
“Par for the course with Damian,” Dick had groaned, pulling himself upright. God, he hurt. “Is he answering comms.?”
Dick had stared at Babs. “The comms. cover everywhere in Gotham. How can he be out of range?”
“He must have found a blind spot,” Babs had seethed.
Dick had felt his head swim, and promptly gone back to sleep.
Now, he was waiting for Damian to return to the cave, after leaving a very pointed message for him. Damian might be hiding (which he doubts, the kid goes for direct confrontation rather than the passive-aggressive bullshit that is Bruce’s usual smokescreen), or whatever he’s doing to Hurt is taking a while.
The latter is a strong possibility, and he’s the only one with a chance of finding Damian, but he’s out of commission while the stitches are in, Alfred had been very clear about that—the gash covers too much skin that bends and flexes with movement.
When he starts to think about taking out the flying Batmobile and looking for his erstwhile partner anyway, Damian strolls out of the elevator, looking far too pleased with himself.
Steph quietly leaves. Dick is grateful. She’s come quite far under Babs’ tutelage; Bruce had wanted to send her away, but Babs, Dick, Tim, and even Damian had chipped in her defense, and Bruce had let her stay.
“Where is Hurt?” Dick inquires, leaning back in his chair.
“Arkham,” Damian says easily.
“It takes over 24 hours to deliver a madman to Arkham?”
“No. It takes 24 hours to lock him in my TARDIS, retrieve him, and then take him to Arkham.”
“Damian, what did you do?”
“Exactly what I said. I locked him in TARDIS, retrieved him, and then took him to Arkham. Grayson, weren’t you listening?” Damian’s bordering on smug, and Dick really wishes his leg wouldn’t reopen so he can challenge Damian to a spar and knock him down a peg or twelve.
“What did you do in your TARDIS to him?” Dick asks patiently.
“Nothing,” Damian shrugs. “What my TARDIS did to him, I cannot say, but I did nothing.”
Dick eyes him. “What do you mean?”
Damian spreads his hands in a placating gesture. “She knew he made me angry because he hurt you. She offered to punish him in my place. I allowed her to do so.”
Sometimes, Damian says these things that Dick wishes he knew how to respond to.
“What did she do?”
Damian tilts his head. “She didn’t say.”
Dick hits the side of the console with his hand. “Goddamnit, Damian! Quit evading.”
“It’s true—I do not know what she did,” Damian tells him earnestly. Damian, earnest. It’s a little disturbing. “I left him in there, hale, hearty, cursing at me and vowing revenge of course. When I retrieved him, he had aged, and he was muttering to himself and rocking in place. I think it’s fair to say he will never be a threat again.”
Yep, Damian is definitely smug.
“So essentially,” Dick closes his eyes and begs for patience, “you allowed your TARDIS to mind-rape Hurt?”
“In essence,” Damian shrugs again. “He has been...declawed. He is no longer a threat.”
“Damian, you can’t just let your TARDIS mind-rape people...”
“Why not?” Damian demands, all fire suddenly. “He hurt you.”
“I’ve been hurt before. I’ll survive,” Dick reminds him.
Damian actually snarls. “You were hurt before you became my Companion, Grayson. Now?”
“And wow, that is not something I wanted to walk in on,” Tim announces from the elevator. “Hong Kong was fine, thanks for asking, Cass sends her love.”
Dick closes his eyes and counts to ten. Today is not his day. “Damian, we’re not done here.”
“For now we are,” Damian retorts, brushing past Tim. “I’ll be working in my TARDIS when you come find me later, Grayson.” He eyes Tim as he enters the elevator. “Drake.”
“Coming from Damian, that was almost cordial,” Tim observes as he walks to Dick. “What happened?”
“He let his TARDIS mind-rape Hurt because Hurt...hurt me.” Dick rubs at his eyes. His leg is twinging again. “He’s become more possessive lately. I’m not entirely sure how to deal with it.”
“Bruce is possessive,” Tim points out, leaning against the console.
“Yeah, but that’s as Batman. It’s expected. Damian isn’t possessive of much—his TARDIS, his tools, and me. It’s a little disconcerting, to tell you the truth.”
“Kid’s got a crush,” Tim concludes. When Dick’s eyes fly open, Tim shrugs. “I’m not saying I’m okay with it,” he adds quickly. “But you’ve treated the little snot like he’s human. It’s natural that he has a crush on you. It’ll pass.”
“Like yours’ did?” Dick asks quietly.
Tim’s mouth quirks into a sad smile. “Maybe Damian needs a Kon. That Colin kid could be a good choice.”
“Yeah, maybe,” Dick muses. “Just maybe.”
His TARDIS is getting impatient. She’s defended him, she seems to warble at him as he fiddles with the last bit of circuitry that controls space travel. They’re almost ready to go. What are they waiting for?
“Grayson won’t go with me. Not right now. We have too many responsibilities,” Damian says softly.
His TARDIS trills...angrily.
“I am not fully in control with what’s going on,” Damian informs her, frustrated. “Puberty sucks.”
His TARDIS doesn’t respond, and he wonders if it’s because she’s disgusted with him or that she’s pondering that last statement. Either way, she’s letting him finish the circuitry. She won’t let him fob her off for long after this.
She might just kidnap him.
He’ll have to be careful.
Dick opens the TARDIS door carefully. He’s using a crutch, something he despised after the War Games saga, but it’s the only way to keep the stitches from tearing.
“Damian?” he calls as he pushes the door closed behind him. The TARDIS hums to him in welcome, something he’s still getting accustomed to but it’s comforting, in a way. It’s just weird to think of a ship with an active consciousness.
Damian’s head pops out from under the console. “Grayson?”
“Hey kid,” Dick tries for a smile. His leg throbs in reply, and he really wants to sit down.
Damian’s about to go back under the console, but there’s a spark, and then the TARDIS trills happily.
“What was that?”
“That was me fixing her so she can travel through space,” Damian grunted. “There’s still some fine-tuning to be done—“ the TARDIS lurches, and Dick grabs for the wall. Damian’s eyes widen. “No. NO.”
“Damian, what is it?” Dick grounds out, clutching onto the wall. He sees levers flip themselves on the console, buttons pressing themselves. Damian’s holding onto the bar underneath the console, face rapidly paling.
“She’s kidnapping us.”
Damian opens his mouth to reply, but the TARDIS lurches again, and he hits his head on the edge of the console. “Ow.”
“You okay?” Dick demands, clutching onto the railing and his crutch, painfully pulling himself to the console where there’s a pilot’s chair.
“Fine,” Damian grumbles. “She’s kidnapping us,” he says again, freeing himself from the wiring of the console to join Dick at the pilot’s seat. “She...dealt with Hurt, and she wanted us to go with her as soon as the repairs were finished. I thought I could stall her a little bit longer, but she got tired of waiting.”
“How long have you been stalling her?” Dick wants to know, raising a brow at his partner.
Damian looks away. “Since Father returned.”
“That’s...what, six months?”
“Something like that,” Damian mumbles.
Dick shoves him lightly with his shoulder. “You should have told me, we could have worked something out.”
“She’s my TARDIS,” Damian has only ever sounded so vulnerable once before, when he found Tim’s ‘hit-list.’ “She’s mine to work with.”
Dick leans back in the seat. “You and Bruce, I swear. You don’t ask for help, even if it entails being kidnapped by space-time machines.” Damian opens his mouth, to protest, to plead, but he looks at Dick and realizes Dick is joking. The fight goes out of him.
“So, do you know where she’s sending us?” Dick asks, resigned.
“No,” Damian sighs. “But once she’s stopped enjoying the freeness of space, I’m sure she’ll let us know.”
As always, DVD commentary is at my LJ.
Chapter 5: Part 4
By Damian’s reckoning, they had been floating in space for about a week. Or at least, Grayson thought it was space. Damian knew better—she had taken them into the Time Vortex, recharging her time energy via the Vortex itself.
They had nearly died of boredom in the first two days before she decided to help them out and show them her library and game room. They had played many, many games of chess to pass the time—Damian was forced to concede to Grayson in blitz chess, but he’d beaten Grayson handily when they played regular chess.
She had created food for them too—though Damian suspected she had teleported it from somewhere rather than manufacture it—and had even created a bedroom for Grayson, something Grayson had been quite grateful for but Damian hadn’t liked what it implied—that she was planning on keeping them for quite some time.
The only positive thing that came about from this weeklong sojourn in the Time Vortex was that it aided Grayson’s healing process. Damian was hardly an expert in dealing with wounds (something lacking in his assassin’s education, now that he thought on it), but he could take out stitches well enough, and he hated to see the thick pink line that was a new scar on Grayson’s leg.
Grayson hadn’t complained or offered any recrimination, except for what he turned on himself, but Damian knew better. He should have been more aware, should have ‘kept the ball.’ It was his fault Hurt got the drop on the both of them, and his alone.
His TARDIS had created something for him during the hours Grayson had slept—a silver cylinder, thicker than the Doctor’s, with the sonic portion at one end and a laser at another. Defense and offense in both. It clipped onto his belt, and Grayson awoke to see Damian fiddling with it. “What’s that?” Grayson yawned, walking carefully down the stairs. He didn’t say anything—rarely did—about what pain he might still be experiencing, but the stiffness of his movements and his subtle wince when he placed pressure and weight on his injured leg told multitudes.
“Sonic/laser screwdriver,” he replied with satisfaction.
Grayson maneuvered himself onto the pilot bench, folding his good leg underneath him and stretching, his back arching in an... interesting manner. “What does it do?”
“The sonic part is very good at opening doors,” Damian eyed it, feeling the weight of it in his hand. “Disrupting signals or creating them, that sort of thing. The laser is self-explanatory.”
“It will make an interesting,” Grayson yawned again, “addendum to your cache of weaponry. Has she decided whether she’s going anywhere today?”
Damian eyed the console from his seat on the stairs leading up to it. No, the levers hadn’t changed. She hadn’t let him try to set a course at the beginning; he had no doubt she would stop him now. “Most likely not.”
Grayson shifted restlessly, and when he spoke, it was intended for the TARDIS, not for him. “Bruce will be worried. We do have things to do.”
The lever slid down and hit the bottom with a sound that was clearly intended to be sarcastic. Grayson snorted despite himself.
Then, another lever slid down; a button was pushed, and with that, the TARDIS parked. Damian had to roll his eyes. If there was anyone who could charm a TARDIS into doing what they wanted, it would be Grayson.
The TARDIS doors opened to...the Batcave, where Drake was immersed in something. Grayson exits first, not quite limping but no longer requiring the crutches. Damian follows behind closely, making sure to lock the door behind him. He does not wish to give Drake the opportunity to go inside. Grayson has forgiven him for Hurt; he will not forgive him for Drake.
Drake senses them and turns around in his chair to look at them. He spots the TARDIS and his eyes go wide, but he masters that emotional reaction and his face clears again. “Hey, I thought you went to talk to Damian on the roof. He decided to park his ship in the Batcave?”
Grayson stops and looks at Drake. “It hasn’t been a week?”
Drake shakes his head slowly. “No, it’s been a couple of hours.”
Grayson looks at Damian. In response, Damian looks at the TARDIS. Time and Relative Dimensions in Space. For them, a week has passed, but the TARDIS has returned them to where they need to be.
The possibilities begin to race through his head despite himself, and he tunes out Drake asking Grayson about his injury as he attempts to not think about the possibilities...which is nearly impossible, like that adage about elephants and rooms.
Later. When he’s alone.
A few weeks after this, he and Grayson are beginning the nightly suit-up when his father stops them. Drake is not far behind him, arms crossed and his teeth biting into his lip.
Damian can see that Grayson too is perturbed by this turn of events, and he ceases in removing his shoes. Damian copies him, automatically entering Grayson’s space as he crosses his arms defensively.
“I have been told,” his father begins, deliberately not looking in the direction of the TARDIS lurking in the shadows. “That after you traveled within your TARDIS, your temper eased for a bit.”
Damian cuts his eyes to Grayson, who looks...confused. So either Grayson didn’t notice (doubtful) or Grayson noticed, but didn’t tell his father, which is far more likely.
Damian looks to Drake, who flushes when Damian looks at him but stares back determinedly. Drake, then.
“If you need to go,” his father continues.
Grayson’s back straightens. “Bruce, what are you doing?”
His father doesn’t look at Grayson but continues to stare at Damian. “Giving him an opportunity. If you need to travel, if only because it soothes your restlessness, you can go.”
“Are you trying to take Robin away from me?” Damian demands. “Are you going to demand the Batman cowl from Grayson, too?”
“You can be—still are—Robin, and Dick is still Batman. But if you need to travel, I’m saying you can go. Tim and I can cover Gotham while you’re gone.”
“Bruce,” Grayson starts, and yes, Grayson is angry, judging by the deeper register of his voice.
Finally his father looks at Grayson. “It’s for both of you.”
Grayson looks utterly floored.
“He still requires guidance, and you are the only one he listens to,” his father tells Grayson, and Damian hates that his father does this, speak of him as though he’s not present.
Drake keeps looking between Grayson and Damian. Damian doesn’t know what he’s looking for, and it irks him, that Drake is so obvious in his observation.
“This isn’t—I am not rejecting either of you. I am simply saying that if you need to go, you can,” his father reiterates.
It makes him angry, that his father just...doesn’t understand. Damian feels the call of the cosmos in a way that makes his skin itch. His TARDIS practically begs to take him away every time he passes over her threshold. But this still seems like a rejection.
He can see that Grayson is taking it the same way.
“In fact, if you need to, you can go tonight,” his father interrupts. It’s not quite a ‘please go, I’m sick of you,’ but it feels close enough.
Grayson’s mouth tautens with anger. “Bruce—“
“Grayson, we obviously aren’t wanted,” Damian snaps. “Allow us to relieve them of our presence.” He grabs Grayson’s wrist and begins to tow him towards the TARDIS. Grayson lets him, but his father is speaking about how yes, they are wanted, but—
Damian is, frankly, tired of listening to his father. He pulls Grayson into the TARDIS, shuts the door with a snap, and bounds up to the console, inputting a course for anywhere as long as it’s away from here.
Once it’s done, he looks at Grayson. “What—why does my father—“ his voice breaks, and the emotion he had been choking back hadn’t been just anger, it was hurt, and it catches him by surprise. He’d thought he had inured himself from his father having the ability to hurt him any longer.
Grayson rakes his hands through his messy black hair. “Bruce is—screwed up, Damian. You should know that above all.”
“Still, why does he not want me?” To his shame, the words come out small. “I have proven myself over and over.”
“Oh Damian,” Grayson sighs, pulling him into a hug. Damian does not fight it. Damian also does not bury his head in Grayson’s chest, feeling the soft cotton of his shirt against his cheek, or smelling the mixture of soap and sweat that is uniquely Grayson.
He definitely does not do that.
“I think,” Grayson starts, allowing Damian to pull away, “that in the screwed up way Bruce thinks, he thinks he’s doing you a favor, that you’re forcing yourself to be Robin because that is what he expects, not because you want to be.”
Damian blinks and looks up at Grayson. “That’s ridiculous. I...I chose this.”
Grayson ruffles his hair. “I know. But like I said, Bruce is screwed up. He doesn’t think like normal people.”
“-tt.-“ But it’s enough, and the TARDIS sings as she takes them into the universe.
After a few (mis)adventures (one involving an immortal named Harkness who couldn’t stop hitting on Grayson, so Damian had to kill him a few times), they’re on a perfectly normal planet that’s mostly lush greenery. Grayson makes a passing reference to a Genesis planet, vowing to show Damian the Star Trek films if it kills him (and it just might), but they pick their way through it carefully.
They’re dressed in the clothing the TARDIS has provided, Grayson in jeans and a deep blue long-sleeved shirt with short boots, and Damian in jeans with calf-high boots and a tank top underneath a track jacket. They’re grateful for the coverage; though the greenery is lush, it is far more similar to northern forests than southern jungle.
Also, there are insects.
Grayson’s leading the way, eyes devouring everything in sight. He’s...happy, like this, exploring new worlds and seeing the wonder (though that doesn’t stop him from bringing weaponry, just as it does not stop Damian). He’s forced to remember that Grayson dated the alien princess, and has other alien friends—it stands to reason that Grayson in unafraid of worlds that are not his own, is excited even.
Damian? Is enjoying more Grayson’s enjoyment than anything else. He prefers the city planets they have been to, the diversity contained therein. He does not like the forest. He knows cities, knows people. He doesn’t know the forest.
He cannot protect Grayson adequately here.
It occurs to him exactly 1.46 seconds before the first bolt flies as to why he feels so uneasy, and its name is Sontaran.
“Get down,” he shouts at Grayson. Grayson trusts him enough to do so without question, falling to the ground, pulling out a few batarangs. Damian copies him, searching for where the bolts are coming from.
They have ceased for the moment, but he can sense that whoever is firing is merely coming closer for a better shot, not that they have left.
“Who dares to enter Sontaran territory?” the attacker calls. Damian sees Grayson repeat ‘Sontaran’ to himself, clearly racking his brains if any of the aliens he knows have mentioned them.
They have not, because the TARDIS has had no problem hacking the Justice League computers, and there is no mention of Sontarans anywhere within them. It has only been found within the Torchwood database, and Damian had chosen to keep that information to himself until it was truly necessary to reveal it.
“I do,” Damian stands up, facing down their attacker. The Sontaran is barely taller than Damian himself, and his helmet is off. He is grateful for that. Given the opportunity, Damian can take him out.
“And you are?” the Sontaran asks pompously, aiming his gun at Damian.
“Damian Wayne, great-grandson of the Doctor,” he’s taking a gamble, mentioning the Doctor, but by the way the Sontaran’s eyes narrow, he knows it was a good choice. “I also lack his disavowal to kill.”
“Damian,” Grayson hisses, but he ignores him. Not the right time.
“You will make a worthy enemy,” the Sontaran decides, and pulls the trigger.
Damian flips out of the way, a flip that Grayson taught him, throwing the ‘rang he’d stored. The Sontaran ducks and the ‘rang embeds itself in a tree. Grayson pops up, tosses a couple of batarangs to Damian while throwing another at the Sontaran.
In response, the warrior alien calls for backup.
And in that instant, Damian knows they’re going to die.
Sontarans are among the most elite fighting force within the galaxy, and they only have one weak point—a weak point that Grayson is not aware of (not yet). They’re not in armor, and they have limited weaponry.
His only priority is to keep Grayson safe.
Grayson does not understand the threat that Sontarans pose. He merely sees them as just another foe, similar to the aliens he has fought over the years. Damian curses his reticence, and wishes that there had been some sort of flag warning that the Sontarans had taken over this place.
Sontarans do not stop until they are killed.
“There is a weak point at the base of their neck,” Damian hisses to Grayson as they back away through the forest, towards the TARDIS. She had taken her sister’s form, that of a police box, but perhaps in amusement, had colored herself with his father’s colors.
So they have a Batman police box.
It’s easy enough to pick out through the foliage. Grayson stumbles, and Damian hauls him up. “You don’t exactly seem like the type to run away,” Grayson remarks as they flat-out run through the forest.
“Sontarans,” Damian bites out. “They pride themselves on being some of the best fighters in the known universe, and don’t stop unless they’re killed.”
Damian curses to himself as they arrive at the door. He’d locked the doors as a precautionary measure, and now he has to fumble to unlock it, deadly laser bolts flying around them.
“Hate to try to rush you, little D,” Grayson murmurs, “but—DOWN,” he pushes Damian closer to the ground, covering him. A bolt slams into the TARDIS door, hardly marking the wood but Damian can feel her anger at being woken up so unjustly.
“Grayson,” he hisses, because the heat of Grayson at his back and the adrenaline of being shot at is just...too much. Grayson lets go of him, and Damian finally manages to turn the damn key, getting the door open. He turns to usher Grayson inside, surprised at Grayson landing on him and pushing them both past the threshold. His TARDIS immediately closes the door and activates the levers, getting them moving.
Grayson won’t move.
Damian curses at him, trying to push him off before realizing that there’s a char mark on Grayson’s shirt. He scrambles out from underneath him, checking his pulse. “Grayson, wake up.”
Grayson doesn’t respond.
His pulse has to be there, Grayson’s been in more dangerous situations than Sontarans goddamnit, come on Grayson. “Richard,” Damian chokes out, hardly noticing the caught sob in his voice. “Richard. Dick.”
Grayson doesn’t respond.
Grayson’s head is on his lap and he’s worrying his hands over Grayson’s chest, searching for a heartbeat. “Dick—please.” The TARDIS hums a worried tone. Grayson still doesn’t respond, and Damian realizes he can’t feel Grayson’s heartbeat. He looks up at the console, the metal and plastic that encases the heart of his TARDIS, and begs. “Please—save him. I...I need him.”
His TARDIS blooms her energy around him, turning the air a light, sparkling gold. He can feel it entering him, just as he can see it twine around Grayson and enter him through his nostrils and his slightly-open mouth. There’s a beat, a something, before Grayson’s eyes fly open and he wheezes. He tries to sit up, but he grimaces and places a hand on his chest, where the bolt had entered. Damian steadies him, relieved to feel that oh-so-frail human heartbeat underneath his hands again.
“Damian? What happened?” Grayson wheezes, coughing slightly.
“You got shot,” Damian says through numb lips. He knows, now, how Grayson felt that night so long ago, when it looked like he was dying from a lucky gunshot.
“I feel like Superman kicked me in the ribs,” Grayson—jokes. He sits up more carefully this time, and Damian has to let him go, but he wants to keep a hand on Grayson, on his shoulder or his arm, but he forces himself not to give into that instinct, rocking back on his heels. “Did you kickstart my heart or something?”
“Something,” Damian murmurs. The instinct rises up in him once again, demanding that he look Grayson over for any remaining injuries, or just...touch him again. “I’m not entirely sure what happened.”
“Was I dreaming, or did you call me Dick?” Grayson gives him that smile, the smile Batman gives Robin when they’re done kicking the asses of a particular group of thugs that were just incredibly stupid.
“Dreaming,” Damian says automatically, fighting his body.
Grayson edges closer, his eyes twinkling. “Are you sure? I think I dreamed a sob there, too.”
And the instinct takes over, and Damian pulls Grayson into a kiss.
As kisses go, it’s not spectacular. Grayson wasn’t expecting the sudden pull, and since he had been smiling, his upper teeth bite into Damian’s lip by accident, and their noses bump. There’s no tongue, Grayson too frozen with shock to really relax into it, but there’s still the taste and feel of Grayson, and Damian knows, without a shadow of a doubt, that this isn’t some passing attraction or a fleeting crush, like Grayson probably thinks it is.
This...this is real, and this is important.
But there’s another piece of knowledge there, one that surprises and shocks Damian, and he lets go of Grayson abruptly. Grayson looks absolutely poleaxed, and Damian can feel some blood on his lip from where Grayson inadvertently bit into it. Unthinking, he licks at it, noticing Grayson’s still-shocked eyes follow the movement.
He can feel himself blushing, but it’s not from embarrassment.
“Dami--,” Grayson finally starts, but Damian cuts him off.
“You should probably sleep,” Damian mutters. He picks himself up off the ground, offering his hand to Grayson. “You were just revived.”
Grayson hesitates—this is an important moment, and they both know it. Finally, he allows himself to take Damian’s hand, and Damian helps him up. Grayson will no doubt insist they talk about this, but Damian knows him well enough that Grayson will want to think about this before they do.
And he needs to talk to his TARDIS, anyway.
Dick stared up at the ceiling of his room within the TARDIS. Damian had insinuated she was telepathic, which was the only explanation for how the room was decorated in various blues with white accents. Not quite the colors he would have chosen, but it was...okay.
He hadn’t anticipated Damian being so relieved by his apparent survival to kiss him. Near-death situations had pushed people together before (he shifted in the bed, thinking of Roy), but it seemed so...unlike Damian.
Then again, a lot of things had been happening lately that were ‘unlike Damian.’ Damian almost smiled a lot more now, like some weight had been taken off of him. At first, Dick had thought it was traveling and the TARDIS, and that he and Damian still acted as vigilantes throughout the universe (although they were very careful to wait until the locals’ reaction proved whatever was going on was a crime—their first, disastrous attempt at doing so ended...badly. Who knew that stealing someone’s property and running with it on Centauri 7 was a courting ritual?), but as time passed, and Damian’s apparent good mood didn’t change, Dick was forced to conclude that either Damian’s good mood was here to stay (which he wasn’t sure he bought), or there was something else.
Damian had always seemed happiest—as happy as the kid got—with him. Now that Damian pretty much had Dick 24/7, Damian was happy as he could be.
It scared him, a little. At the end of the day, he still thought of Damian as that sulky ten-year-old who nearly got them all killed that one time. Damian had progressed, majorly, since then, but he was still ten in Dick’s head.
Even if the kid looked to have gotten hit with the good side of the puberty stick.
Dick muttered incoherently to himself and rolled over, pressing his face into the pillow. Sleep! He was exhausted, after all.
Damian plodded up to the console, plugging in the programming to allow for his TARDIS to speak through a hologram. He had left it up to her to pick a form (it only seemed fair), and she had chosen a dark-haired human female with Middle Eastern features, perhaps sensing his comfort with women of that ethnicity, more than American, European, or East Asian features. She smiled at him.
He gazed at her, and he whispered brokenly, “What have you done?”
“Exactly what you asked,” her voice was light, melodious. “You asked me to save him. I did. I couldn’t have him like Harkness, you know I couldn’t stand him, but I saved him nonetheless.” She’s proud, he realizes.
“You tied his life force to mine!” he shouts, before freezing and looking up at the hallway, but Grayson did not appear. “He cannot survive without me!” he says it more quietly, but with the same amount of force. “He will...he will hate that,” he mumbles. “You have robbed him of his independence.”
She sighs, placing her hands in front of her. “You do not want to walk this universe without him—I can read your heart and have found it to be true. It’s true I could have revived him without tying him to us,” she smiles, nastily, “but this way he can never leave us.”
“Why?” Damian hisses. “Why would you do such a thing?”
“If he had left us, you would have left me. As long as you have him, I have you. It’s really very simple.”
He can only stare at her. She...she is sociopathic, he realizes slowly. TARDISes are social creatures; ten years on her own must have warped her—those ‘crossed wires’ the Doctor had mentioned, seemingly eons ago. He could have fixed her, but she did not want to be fixed, and Damian had misunderstood, and now...and now the damage is done.
Grayson can never leave him again.
“Dami, you should be careful what you wish for,” she chides mockingly. “You got what you wished, after all, just not quite in the package you wanted.”
She...she reminds him of his mother. She may have chosen her form to make him more comfortable, but now he looks at her, and he only sees Talia. “Take us home,” he orders her. “Take us home, now.”
She frowns, but the hologram vanishes and the necessary buttons and levers move in the right direction, and the TARDIS lands, a little harder than necessary. Damian clutches for the railing as she settles. Grayson appears at the hallway. “Damian? What’s going on?”
“We’re home,” Damian says, suddenly exhausted. “We...we need a break.”
“Tired of the traveling?” Grayson jokes, walking down the stairs. As he nears Damian, his smile slides off and he looks concerned. “Damian, are you okay? You look like death warmed over, kid.”
Damian pushes himself off the console and opens the TARDIS doors, holding it open for Grayson. “We need to talk.”
“And the TARDIS wasn’t good enough?” Grayson frowns as they exit into the Batcave.
“No,” Damian bites out. He very carefully does not touch Grayson as he leads them to the elevator under the manor; his hormones are wreaking havoc, and he could happily curse his TARDIS several lifetimes over, because all of his Time Lord senses are singing out how Grayson is his, and that merits special treatment, and he can’t.
Not right now, and probably not for years, if Grayson is as dismayed by this news as Damian is.
The elevator ride is silent; Damian stares at the wall just beyond Grayson, and Grayson studies him. Once they exit, Grayson takes ahold of his arm. “Damian, you’re upset. What’s the matter?”
Damian breathes out a sigh. “When the Sontaran shot you, you died. It wasn’t a get-a-crash-cart death, it was a legitimate, you’ve gone on to another dimension sort of death. I asked the TARDIS to save you—TARDISes can do that, especially when they’re within the Time Vortex, like she was at the time. She...” he falters, and he would very much like Grayson to take his shoulder right now, but Grayson is stock-still, eyes narrowed. “She tied your life-force to mine.”
“...what?” Grayson whispers.
“She didn’t want me to leave her, so she knew a way to keep me with her always was to keep you with me always,” Damian stutters out. “As long as I live, you’ll never die. But you can’t...” he forces himself to continue. “But you can’t stray far for very long. It’ll—it’ll kill you. I’m so sorry. If I had known that was her intent...” he falls silent, because he can’t finish the sentence. The loss of independence to Grayson is horrifying, but he can’t think of any alternate plans. He needs Grayson.
That need is selfish—he can concede it—but it exists. If Grayson had died, he would have become Drake, moving through the halls in a depressed daze.
Grayson looks past him. “I—I need some air,” his voice is tight, and Damian senses he’s angry, and it’s probably the best for the both of them that they not talk for a while.
Even if it hurts.
So I dabble in the DW fandom, and space!married is a common theme (...as it is in the Star Trek fandom...), and I get it. Really. I do. It adds a certain sense of humor (when it's done properly--see screamlet and waldorph for this type of thing in the ST fandom).
But I've seen the concept of space!married melding with soul!bonding, and it's treated as this amazing thing. Which I don't really agree with, if both partners are not or unable to consent properly. I go on about this in the DVD commentary, but I don't actually know if it gets read or not since it's at my LJ and it doesn't exactly tell me how many hits I get. So let me take however long it takes for you to read this: CONSENT IS IMPORTANT WITH SOUL!BONDING.
That is all.
Chapter 6: Part 5
So, this has been rather a long time in updating, but here we are, at the end of all things.
Well, not really, but it certainly feels that way on this end.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
For one night, Dick’s back in his Nightwing costume. Bruce is Batman, Tim as his (Red) Robin, and Dick...Dick needs the freedom of the Nightwing costume. Nightwing doesn’t have mostly-bratty Time Lord assassin babies trailing after him on a line; Nightwing’s free, a lone agent, capable of helping others but known for himself.
He hasn’t seen Damian in two days. It’s mostly on him—he’s only been in the Batcave when he knows Damian hasn’t been there, and he’s deliberately making himself busy.
He really wants to believe Damian isn’t at fault for this, but that small, petty part of his brain that he mostly pretends doesn’t exist that listens to Tim whenever he’s on a tear, points out rather nastily that he’s been aware for quite some time that Damian’s attached to him in a way that isn’t healthy in the slightest. Why wouldn’t Damian do his best to ensure he’s around?
He shakes his head furiously. Yes, Damian is attached to him, and yes, Damian loves him as much as Damian can love anyone. Damian will kill for him; Damian will allow his TARDIS to mind-rape people to protect him. That level of devotion frightens him in a way he can’t fully describe.
To the extent that Bruce can love, given his emotional damage, Bruce loves him. Tim loves him with everything he has and then some. Babs loves him. Alfred loves him.
And Dick loves all of them, just as much, with everything he has.
And he loves Damian.
He loves Damian like he loves Tim, but this knowledge...changes everything.
He lands...or tries to. His ankle gives in a way that has never occurred, and he falls as he lands on a roof. He twists to fall properly, but his ankle is on fire.
That feeling of fire is spreading up through his left leg, and he chokes as the same feeling begins in his right leg. He can’t stay upright; the fire is weakening his joints to jelly.
If the fire reaches his heart, he’ll die.
He hears nailed boot soles land on the roof, and he knows who it is. Since Jason disappeared with Scarlet, they haven’t heard any word of him at all, but now he’s back, and from the sounds of it, he’s alone.
“Dickie,” Jason starts to drawl, and then he cuts himself off. The pain is intense, and while Dick’s own pain threshold is high, this is quickly pinning itself over the line of too much. “What do you need?”
The concern in Jason’s voice turns Dick’s stomach to knots. It’s not usual, from Jason, but there’s a shadow of a bond between the two of them that’s come from saving each other’s lives when the chips have been down.
Jason banks on that bond now as he winds an arm around Dick’s shoulders, forcibly pulling him up. “If you make me deliver your corpse to Bruce, I swear I’ll find a Lazarus Pit, reanimate you only to kill you myself.”
“Thanks Jay,” Dick joked—or tried to. The pain rose up in a wave, cutting off his words as he hissed in response.
“Stay with me, Dick,” Jason orders, shooting a line to take them across the city. “Tell me one of your boring stories or whatever.”
It’s not coming, and it’s all he can focus on to breathe, right now. His head is mashed against Jason’s collarbone, and Jason is swearing colorfully under his breath as he tries to get them through the city faster. He’s speaking to someone—Tim? Bruce? Babs?—over a comm., and Jason’s voice is rising in consternation.
The pain’s past his hipbones now. His stomach is beginning to seize, and he might just vomit over Gotham (poor pedestrians), but that would hurt even more than what he’s currently feeling.
Jason lands gracelessly on another rooftop—this must be one of Bruce’s many safehouses, and Jason kicks down the rooftop access door, tugging him along. Dragging, actually; Dick can’t put his weight on his legs at all.
There’s a lumpy couch, which Jason deposits him on. There’s the slight whistle of a grapple through the kicked-down door, and moments later, Damian barrels through, his skin pale under the dusky tone. “Where is—Grayson.” He moves past Jason as if he’s not even there, as if Jason’s never put his life in danger, and kneels next to Dick on the floor, touching his forehead with the tips of his fingers, encased in green gauntlets.
Just seeing Damian was enough to take a bit of the edge off, but now that Damian’s touching him, the pain vanishes like it was never even there, leaving barely-there aftershocks before they too disappear completely.
Damian touches Dick’s bottom lip lightly; the tip of his index finger comes away spotted with blood. Oh. So that’s what that was.
Still ignoring Jason, Damian removes a handkerchief (a freaking handkerchief, this kid) and dabs Dick’s lip, cleaning up the blood.
There are times when Damian gets this distant look on his face, usually when he’s doing mechanical stuff in the TARDIS. It’s on his face now. There’s absolutely nothing sexual or even sensual about Damian wiping blood off his face; it’s strictly utilitarian, like some part of Damian is distressed at seeing Dick’s blood and feels a compulsion to clean it.
“Somebody want to tell me what happened?” Jason drawls.
Damian helps Dick sit up, sitting back once Dick’s got his back on the couch. Damian’s air is still clinical, looking over Dick carefully, touching him with the tips of his fingers at his shoulders, upper arms, elbows, wrists. Damian’s about to pull away, but Dick grabs at Damian’s left hand, squeezes it once.
Damian’s eyes, hidden through the white-out lenses, meet his. Dick holds his gaze, knowing that that brief point of contact is what Damian needed to know. They’ve communicated in words, but Damian is at heart more comfortable with subtle gestures over anything else, and that was a gesture that couldn’t lie.
Damian nods, once, before brushing his fingertips over the inside of Dick’s wrist—he shivers—before pulling his hand out of Dick’s grasp and helping him up.
Dick looks at Jason. “It was a...proximity issue. It’s dealt with now.”
Beside him, he can hear Damian’s unvoiced laughter, see how Damian’s throat flexes so as to not give the laughter voice.
Jason looks unimpressed. “How can that lead to you nearly dying on a rooftop?”
“He was dosed with something,” Damian says smoothly. “Once you contacted me on the comms., I knew what it was. The antidote was on my gloves; once it had contact with Grayson’s bare skin, it stopped.”
It’s not, strictly speaking, a lie.
“What exactly was he dosed with?” Jason prods. “Hate to get it myself, you see.”
“Father’s working on it.”
“And yet you have the antidote.”
“And yet I have the antidote,” Damian agrees. His eyes narrow through the mask. “If that is all, Todd, Grayson should probably head back to the manor, take a night off while the toxins pass through his system.”
“Yeah, that’s all, kid,” Jason retorts. He looks at Dick, and Dick shrugs. If Damian doesn’t want Jason to know the real issue, that’s Damian’s prerogative.
Jason watches them leave, and though there’s still bad blood between them, Dick’s pretty sure that was Jason’s attempt at forgiveness.
He just might be ready for it.
He knows that Grayson has accepted this, has accepted him, even if it means a hindrance to his personal freedom, but Grayson will want to talk once they get back to the manor and...
Damian dreads it.
He hasn’t stepped back into his TARDIS since they got back. He can’t stand to look at her, be inside her. Damian wants Grayson in a way that he’s still not accustomed to, wants to be as free with his touch with Grayson as Grayson is with him, and he wants Grayson to decide to be his.
The fact that the choice was taken away from them leaves a perpetually-sour feeling in his stomach.
Once they get back to the Batcave, Grayson immediately begins to step out of his Nightwing uniform. Damian’s seen it, but only in a few instances before Grayson officially took the cowl. It suits him in a way the cowl absolutely does not, but Damian doesn’t like it.
When Grayson is Nightwing, he has no need for Robin, and thus, no need for Damian. He wants to be needed, to be recognized as necessary in a way that doesn’t involve taking away someone’s choice.
He realizes Grayson has been looking at him, arms folded, wearing a battered Hudson U sweatshirt and loose jeans, his feet barefoot in the chill of the cave. Damian busies himself with stepping out of the Robin costume, pulling on comfortable pants and his own sweatshirt. He tucks his iPod into his pocket, unsure if he’ll get to use it tonight. Once he’s done, Grayson steps toward him, his eyes unreadable, and Damian flinches as Grayson leans over him, only to relax when Grayson only rests his arms on Damian’s shoulders and looks at him.
“Damian, what your TARDIS did was not okay.”
“I never said it was,” Damian says quickly, not looking up at Grayson.
“No,” Grayson agrees. There’s a wry tone to his voice. “But—I’m at fault too.”
Damian chances a look up as Grayson shifts his stance, his arms not moving from Damian’s shoulders. “I’ve been avoiding you,” Grayson clarifies. “This is...uncomfortable, for me.”
Damian quirks his lips in a subtle smile. It’s uncomfortable for them both.
“It’s forced a commitment from me in a way I never anticipated,” Grayson says, staring off into the distance, his eyes hooded. “I’ve been willing to get married before, but this isn’t exactly the same.”
“No it’s not.”
“But I’m not rejecting you. I really, really want you to know that. Discomfort—well, par for the course for the Batfamily. But I know you were panicking and you were trying to save my life. The TARDIS just took that distress and ran with it. I’m still willing to travel with you, be your...Companion,” Grayson’s face twists at the last word. “Is that official Time Lord lingo, or something your great-grandfather taught you?”
“I believe it’s official Time Lord lingo,” Damian says reluctantly. “But it is an awkward word. I think there might be a more precise choice in Gallifreyan, but that’s the closest English equivalent. Or Earth equivalent.”
“This, by the way, does not mean you get carte blanche to kill for me,” Grayson added, removing his arms from Damian’s shoulders and punching him lightly in the upper arm. “Killing is still bad. But this is something I’m willing to work with you on.”
“This is a compromise?”
“Of a sort,” Grayson admits, shoving his hands in his pockets. Damian feels the loss of weight on him keenly as Grayson shifts his feet again. “Seems like your TARDIS did all of the ‘compromising’ though.
“You don’t hate me?”
Grayson grins and pulls him into a hug. “Damian Wayne, you are someone I could never hate.”
I don't think I will be posting DVD commentary for this, so let me say a last few things to all of you who have been following most faithfully.
This fic took me about 3-5 months to complete (if you count the last minute edits). I love it dearly, it's one of the longest fics that I ever wrote (that didn't include OCs), and I've been contemplating a sequel that would do Fix-It fic for Series 6 of Doctor Who. I've got a couple of parts written (I write parts, not chapters), but sad to say, since the 7th series began to air, I've rather lost interest. I despise Steven Moffat (surprise surprise, I suppose), and the first 5 episodes were not...exciting. In any way. In fact, only one of them (The Power of Three) lacked any sort of noticeable problematic issues.
This has decreased my desire to write a sequel. I may return to it, but it will not be for some time. I've got some ideas for one-shots floating about for this universe, but since my general disillusionment, it's not likely to occur soon.
That being said, thank you very much for sticking this through to the end, and thank you very much for those who have left comments, kudos, and have bookmarked this fic.