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Young & Beautiful

Chapter Text

Ah, Apollo, sweet son,
his lights are consumed in shadows,
and from his corpse, Hades sits,
exquisite, and old.
1.1

It had been a long time since Edward was in the States, not since his two years attendance at Gotham University, and it had been just as long since he had last seen Bruce Wayne, a younger classmate—two years his junior—whose intelligence matched his beauty, a hopeless prospect for young fun turned into a great man for the city of Gotham as its greatest patron and white knight. Bruce was mainly why Edward accepted the invitation from Marie Rios, a mutual acquaintance and classmate from University, to attend the grand opening of her new gallery museum, another mark in her career as an artist and curator.

He was always up to see old friends again, but he never really had any reason to go back to Gotham. He was not one to just come and stop by, especially since he had been so busy over the last fifteen years with his own business as the head of his family's fortune and an up-and-coming drug lord of Western Europe. The invitation was a great break, he decided, and he had been hearing a lot of news about his old friend, adopting children and donating a good amount of money every year, almost outdoing himself the year before.

Marie invited him Monday, and Edward arrived at the old city on Friday, the day before the event. He made sure to bring his two most favorite pets—one of an Oriental breed and the other Scandinavian—with him, giving them both seat beside him on his private jet. He made certain his pets were taken to the large hotel suite he had reserved for the weekend, knowing that they were not legal in the States, much less in Gotham with its famous Dark Knight. He had to be careful, or there were consequences to be paid. He spent the time between settling in and the opening lounging in his suite with his two pets, playing with them with leisure. It gave him time to enjoy his luxury for a moment for the first time in a month, business being more busier than ever before, and to think about what he'd say to Bruce when they see each other again.

Edward smiled at the thought of Bruce, the only sixteen year old in the third year physics class, the first love of his life, if he did say so himself. Everyone knew who Bruce was, the Prince of Gotham who lost his parents when he was young. That was how everyone saw him, a sad and lost child trying to make it on his own after a tragedy. Everyone pitied him, trying to be his friend, but Bruce didn't like that much, preferring to keep quiet and alone.

But Edward didn't pity Bruce. No, the Englishman was much more interested in getting to know who Bruce really was because Bruce was attractive, intelligent, and young, the first sign of the Englishman’s preferences, but Edward wasn't entirely to blame. No, Bruce was at fault too, attractive an understatement, because the younger was beautiful, like a work of art with jet black hair almost like the night sky and blue eyes that glowed dimly in a fully lit room. Edward thought him untouchable, but he was his father's son. A challenge was an amazing adrenaline rush.

The result came out as a mix, both fulfilling and disappointing. Edward managed to wear young Bruce down and befriend him, but that was it. He got the boy to smile in his presence, but Bruce clearly refused all advances, even saying it outright once. It took three semesters, and they were friends. That was it.

One semester later, Edward was on his way back home to London to continue on his education, Gotham University a chance to experience the States. They didn't say goodbye as they simply nodded to each other when Bruce graduated, already finishing all four years. Edward only saw the Wayne family butler attending for his friend, and that was the end of that. No contact, no phone calls, no acknowledgement of the other. Despite that, Edward was excited to see Bruce again, wondering if the younger one was still as beautiful as he remembered, and he was sure Bruce would be happy to see him again after so long.

After all, Edward was his only friend.

When Saturday night quietly came along, Edward put on his best suit and was driven to Marie's new gallery, and as he entered, the hostess herself was the first to greet him. “Edward!” she called out, smiling very pretty in her green dress. She was very lovely, the face of great talent. “It has been so long.”

Edward smiled back, pleased to see her and enveloped her in a hug when she walked up to him. “It has,” he replied, “but you are still as wonderful as the last time I've seen you. Time moves around you, love.”

Marie laughed, wrapping her arm around his. “And you're still as flattering with your words. Please let me introduce you to a few of the other guests. I know you don't do business in the US, but I won't have an old friend of mine walk around alone tonight.”

Edward chuckled with good humor. “Well, I can't say I won't be alone, but I’m sure I know one or two faces here. A few of my clients are fans of yours so some might actually be here tonight. However, I'm very excited to see another old friend. I'm hoping you've invited him as well?”

“You mean Bruce?” she asked rhetorically as she led him through the crowd of guests. “Of course. He is the guest of honor. He donated half the funding for the opening as a gift. I cannot be more grateful for his support. He also brought some his children along.”

“Oh, yes. I've read about Bruce’s children. How much does he have now? It's like he gets a new one every year or so.”

“I can't say for sure, actually. He has four adopted children and one biological son, but there are some more who closely associated with him. Gotham loves them, declaring a new and bigger dynasty of the Wayne family. Bruce's the crowned prince of the city. It's adorable.”

Edward raised an eyebrow, becoming curious, but didn't reply as Marie continued to lead him deeper into the gallery. Guests greeted her, but she didn't stop for more than a moment, excited to bring old friends back together again. Edward was grateful. He couldn't stay for too long, sadly. He had business to attend to back at home. 

“Bruce!” Marie called out again, waving her free hand towards a tall man with an arm around a raven’s waist, her height much shorter than him. The man turned around, and for a moment, Edward’s breath was caught in his throat, remembering the first time he saw the Prince of Gotham.

Empty eyes as kind as dead fish. Blue eyes, lively like morning glories opening at the break of dawn. Not short but not tall, thin and lithe. He will grow out of it soon. Taller and broader, muscles filling out his thinness. He wore blankness like a mask, lips sealed in a line. He wore a light layer of porcelain over his face, but genuine joy bled from underneath. Beautiful. Young. Beautiful. Still beautiful.

“Marie,” Bruce answered, the raven in his arm turning around too. Edward noted her delicate features, the defining tone of her exposed arm, her mixed ethnicity and her quietness. This was no average arm candy; she was not arm candy at all.

Then Bruce noticed him, much to Edward’s pleasure that recognition came almost instantly. “Edward Kingston!” the billionaire Gothamite said happily, reaching out his free hand to him. “It's been too long!”

Edward took Bruce’s offered hand, but he didn't shake it. Instead, he kissed the younger man’s knuckles, not a bit shy about the action. Marie chuckled on the side at Bruce’s light surprise. “Your good looks still grace you,” Edward said, as to answer Bruce’s questioning look.

It made Bruce laugh, smiling. He gestured to the raven he had his arm around. “Edward, I want you to meet my daughter, Cassandra.”

The raven, Cassandra, gave Edward a polite smile, showing that she knew her manners. “Charmed,” Edward commented, lacking interest to knowing her better. You couldn't blame him; Cassandra was very attractive, but women didn't interest him, no matter how young. “How have you been, Bruce? I hear you've become a family man.”

There was a moment of disappointment on Bruce's face—probably due to the lack of interest in his daughter, not that Edward cared—but it quickly disappeared, another smile. “Yes. I have too many to count on one hand now. Alfred has become a very happy grandfather to them. I'm very proud of them.”

Cassandra leaned against her adoptive father with a bigger smile, to which Bruce held her tighter. It was like they were off in their own little world.

“You two are absolutely precious,” Marie said, a hand on her cheek as she watched with delight. “Sadly, I can't stay still for too long. I need to attend to my other guests. Please enjoy yourselves tonight. Thank you so much for coming, Bruce, Edward. It's wonderful to see old friends again.”

“No, thank you, Marie,” Bruce said, as Edward nodded in acknowledgement. “I wish you the best of luck. Not that you need it.”

Marie laughed, letting go of Edward to give Bruce a peck on the cheek in gratitude. “Bruce Wayne, if only I wasn't married to my husband and my art.”

Edward and Bruce watched her walk off as Cassandra waved a little. “I've been hearing about you too, Edward,” Bruce then said, continuing on their conversation. “Though just bits and pieces here and there. What have you been doing since you went home? It's a shame we never kept in contact.”

Edward nodded in agreement. “It is a shame, Bruce, and I even promised that we would still talk often after I took over the family business after my father died. I've never been so busy in my life ever since I started in some extra business on the side.”

Bruce chuckled. “I understand you. It seems the more time passes, the more work there needs to be done. It's very tiring, but it pays off once in awhile. Keep up the good work, and maybe you’ll change the world, Edward.”

“Not as much as you have. I know about your charities and donations, Bruce. Very impressive and very kind of you. I'm sure half of Gotham has a roof over their heads tonight because of you. I'm worried you might sell your manor to keep up the large sums of money you keep giving away.”

“You flatter me. There's no need to worry though. I have full faith in Tim and Lucius to keep Wayne Enterprise fully functioning and profitable for a very long time. They’re much more capable of it than I am. And honestly, I prefer going on skiing trips and sleeping in.”

Edward chuckled. “Tim is one of your sons, right? I would like to meet him. I'm always on the lookout for the next generation of businessmen, someone to replace you and I when we're dead and gone.”

“Of course. I’d love to show my kids to you. Now if only we can find him. The boys should be around here somewhere, if they are on their best behavior. As they promised.”

Cassandra laughed in her hand as she pointed towards someone coming towards them in the crowd. “There,” she said, alerting Bruce and Edward of a young man with black hair and blue eyes. He was around his early twenties, a toned body hidden under his navy blue suit, wearing a boyish smile as he looking back and forth in the crowd, looking for something.

“Have you seen Tim and Damian?” was the first thing the young man asked, forcing a laugh. “I might have lost them.”

Bruce sighed as Cassandra looked around, jumping to help. “I thought you said you were going to watch them,” the billionaire said, shaking his head in exasperation.

The young man pouted a little. “It's not my fault. I tried, but you know everyone in this family can sneak off easily, especially in a crowd. They were being civil too, so I trusted them to be nice.”

“Do you at least regret doing that?”

“Don’t push it, Bruce.”

Bruce rolled his eyes, turning his attention back to Edward. “Edward, this is my oldest son, Dick,” he introduced with a small smile. “Dick, this is-”

“Edward Kingston,” the young man, Dick, answered himself, bursting out from his bad mood to a much more confident happiness as he shook Edward’s hand with both of his. “I know about you. It's nice to meet you, Mister Kingston. I didn't know Bruce was friends with such a prominent figure.”

The corner of Edward's lips perked up in amusement. “Not many people know that I'm friends with Bruce either,” he replied. “It's goes both ways, I suppose.”

“I bet. Usually I know about all of his friends, but he's allowed secrets. To a certain extent. Please excuse me. I’ll be right back.”

Without waiting for a response, Dick walked away, Edward returning his focus back at his friend. “He's your oldest, right?” the Englishman asked. “How many do you have now?”

Bruce sighed tiredly, as if the thought of then was tiring. “Too much,” the billionaire replied with a small endearing smile. “Luckily, I have a house big enough to hold all of them.”

“And Alfred to feed us,” Cassandra added, laughing. Edward wondered where Bruce could've possibly gotten her, if she was another child picked up from the streets.

Someone came up to them, a young man shorter and just a bit taller than Cassandra, blue eyed and black hair. He had a frown on his face, glaring over his shoulder. This young man was attractive too—it was as if aesthetics in the form of people were naturally drawn to his friend—and he held himself professionally, even more than Bruce did.

“Tim,” Bruce said to this young man. “Where’s Damian?”

The young man, Tim, rolled his eyes. “He's fine, Bruce,” he answered, glaring over his shoulder again. “Dick’s got him. I'm just glad I'm not small anymore because I don't want to be seen carried like a little kid.”

“Damian is a kid,” Cassandra reminded, to which Tim snickered.

“Edward, this is Tim,” Bruce introduced, gesturing to Tim with a hand.

“Edward Kingston,” Tim automatically said, taking one look at Edward, and he held out a hand. “It's nice to meet you.”

Edward smiled, shaking Tim’s hand. It was a firm hold. A greatness was trusted upon the young man, Edward could tell. “It's nice to meet you too, Tim,” the Englishman replied. “I've read a lot about you online. How is it take on such a large business at the age of 17? I hope it's not too hard to handle.”

Tim charmingly smiled shaking his head a little in good humor. "No, if anything, it's the easiest part of my life, Mister Kingston. At least at WE, I can get things done without being interrupted almost every five second. So how do you know Bruce? I've never found any connections between you two despite your shared profession.”

“We were classmates at Gotham University. I moved back home to London when he graduated.”

Tim raised an eyebrow at Bruce, who shrugged in return. The young man looked back to Edward, putting on a polite smile. “That must be a very long time ago. I'm not calling Bruce old, but he's not young either.”

“Old man,” Cassandra said, giggling when Bruce faked a pained expression.

“I thought you loved me the most,” Bruce played along, laughing. “I might have to rearrange my favorite li- umph!”

A child came crashing from behind Bruce and Cassandra, grasping at the man’s suit jacket as Edward's view of him was blocked. “Father!” the boy exclaimed. “Tell Grayson to stop carrying me! I can walk just fine!”

“Dami,” Dick sang out as he returned back to his father and siblings. He had a playful smile on his face, bouncing his way instead of walking. “Come back to me. You're hurting my feelings.”

“Touch me without permission again and I'll hurt more than just your feelings, Grayson. I will hide all the cereal littering your apartment.”

Bruce rolled his eyes, exasperated as he let go of Cassandra and turned around. “Damian, no threats,” he said in a commanding voice to the child, who was being held securely by the shoulders. The billionaire looked up to his oldest son. “Dick, keep it at the Manor.”

Dick frowned halfheartedly. “You ruin all the fun, Bruce,” he said. “Oh, hey, Tim. I was looking for you too.”

“Dick, you use me as a replacement and I'll dropkick you,” Tim replied without hesitation.

“Fight, fight, fight,” Cassandra cheered.

“Cassandra,” Bruce warned, but his daughter didn't think much of it as she just grinned in return.

“Father, do you suppose we will leave soon?” the boy asked, still hidden from Edward.

“No, Damian. We're staying for the whole thing. You don't need to worry about Jay and Stephanie. They’ll be fine.”

“I'm not worried about them. I'm just saying it might've been wiser to leave me at the Manor.”

“Aw, you tired already, Dami?” Dick asked, laughing as he tried to grab the boy again.

“Grayson!”

Bruce pulled the boy away from Dick’s reach towards him. “No fooling around in public,” he said.

“Too late,” Tim said with a smirk, clearly an inside joke only, and Cassandra snickered at him, covering her mouth with her hands.

“Is that your youngest, Bruce?” Edward asked before they start to drift too far away from him.

They were far too interesting and attractive for him to let go so easily. It was like looking at a bouquet of black roses, not a thorn among them. If he tried hard enough and luck would allow it, Edward would have them wrapped around his fingers as a family friend, an uncle all the kids loved. Maybe even continue the pursuit to bed Bruce like he had originally planned.

Bruce turned his head around, as if he just remembered about Edward. He then smiled lightly. “Yes,” he replied, turned around fully as he gently pushed his youngest forward. “Edward, this is Damian.”

If Edward wasn't so skilled at pretending and hiding his desires so well, he would have fallen to his knees at the sight of the youngest Wayne, bearing much resemblance to Bruce with the nearly the same shade of blue in his eyes. If it were possible not to damage the boy, Edward would've plucked it out and use it for a doll’s eyes. The boy’s skin was kissed by a desert sun, his blood inherited from different regions of Eurasia, the most distinct features naturally cultivated over generations in the fertile lands. Oh, he was so beautiful, maybe even exceeding his father, and young. Edward wanted nothing but to hold the child and never let go, to show the child off to the world as his.

But Edward was skilled at pretending and hiding his desires so well, and he did not let them show, keeping his knees from falling in awe and ignoring the sudden pounding in his chest. Instead, he held a hand out to the boy, halfway to his father's height. “It's a pleasure to meet you, Damian,” Edward said, smiling delightfully.

Damian was reluctant to take it, probably seeing it as pointless and beneath him. He frowned, clicking his tongue against his teeth. “No,” the boy replied.

Tim sighed, rolling his eyes. “Be polite, Damian,” he said.

Damian was about to snap back when Dick said, “C’mon, Dami. He's one of Bruce's old friends.”

The youngest Wayne looked up to his father, and Bruce gave him a nod. Damian turned back to Edward, finally reaching out for a handshake. “It's nice to meet you, Mister Kingston,” he said, spoken like a prince. “Excuse me for my transgression.”

However, instead of a handshake, Edward took a hold of Damian's offered hand and, extending the same courtesy he did to Bruce, the Englishman brought the hand up to his lips and kissed his knuckles, bent down a bit to get at a comfortable level. That surprised Damian, and the rest of the Waynes. The boy pulled his hand away, wiping away the Englishman's warmth on his suit jacket.

“Apologies,” Edward smoothly said, giving Damian a genuine smile. “My business is fashion, and beauty is important. Your resemblance to your father shocked me, Damian, because you're just as handsome. I couldn't help it.”

Apparently, that was the right thing to say as Damian stood a little taller, liking the compliment. “Well, don't do it again.”

Cassandra leaned down to her youngest brother's height and placed a kiss on Damian’s cheek, which the boy did not protest as much to. “What are you doing, Cain?” he asked, raising an eyebrow to her sudden action rather than the kiss itself.

As she stood back to her height, Edward caught her eyes, and they were looking at him, as if they were suspecting him of a crime not yet committed, as if they knew. But she said nothing to him. “Kisses are sweet,” she replied, leaning back against her father, and Bruce placed an arm around her waist again. “Let’s see the exhibits.”

Tim perked up, nodding. “Sure, Cass,” he agreed immediately, pointing to a hallway. “I haven't seen all of Rios’ pieces for her 'Gods Among Us’ project yet.”

“Oh, the white wood statues she water painted?” Dick asked, interested as he started walking that direction. “Those are amazing, Tim. My personal favorite is ‘Red God of the Sky'.”

Damian followed them absentmindedly, nodding along. “I think 'The Gray Night’ is the best,” he argued. “The contrast of the white wood and black water paint melts together, creating a multitude of gray shades, and if you look carefully, you'd see the light specks of yellow, blue and red. Her story behind it is quite interesting.”

“You would think so, Demon Brat,” Tim said. “The ‘Green Watcher’ is great too. And Jason loves 'Godly Princess’. But Steph keeps telling me that 'A Classic Witch' is the best piece.”

Their conversation started to become inaudibly as they walked away to the exhibit, leaving Edward, their father and their sister behind. It was endearing to see that they were knowledgeable.

“Come, Bruce,” Cassandra said, tugging at her father's arm to follow them. “Let's see 'Child of Legends’.”

Bruce smiled at his daughter. “Of course,” he said. “I personally like 'Golden Queen’. Remind me of a certain someone. Edward, sorry to leave you so soon. We can catch up another time? Will you be here in Gotham next week?”

Edward blinked, suddenly finding himself empty handed. “Yes,” he lied, a smile to cover everything up. “At least for another month. I've been debating on taking a vacation, and Marie's invitation decided it for me.”

“That's great. What about coming over the Manor for lunch Wednesday? Alfred's always willing to feed guests.”

Edward smiled, finding that this chance hadn't been taken away from him completely yet. “I would love to, Bruce. Thank you so much for the invitation. I'll be there by 11?”

Bruce nodded as Cassandra pulled at him again, walking with her. “See you then, Edward.”

“See you, Bruce,” Edward replied, watching them disappear into the crowd of guests, but he could see feel the look in Cassandra's eyes, the assumption and the knowing. She was going to be trouble, he knew, but it wouldn't be the first time he had faced an obstacle in his eyes before. It'll only add to the fun when he has Damian Wayne in his possession.

.

.

.

“How was the opening?” Stephanie asked when they arrived back at the Manor, nearly 2 in the morning. She had just come back from patrol, Jason taking the other four hours on his own.

Alfred closed the door quietly when Bruce, Cassandra, Damian, Dick and Tim pooled in, looking fine in their formal clothes while Stephanie was in an old, worn out pair of pink pajamas. She took it from Tim’s closet, and it was the most comfortable thing in the world.

“It went as always,” Tim said, yawning as he started unbuttoning his suit. “The art was the best part of the night. Rios really did a lot within five years.”

“Tim and Damian almost broke an ice sculpture at the entree table,” Dick then said, negating any and all thoughts that the night went entirely well.

“Grayson kept trying to pick me up,” Damian added, shooting a look at his oldest brother.

Bruce sighed, bow-tie already loosened and his Brucie persona checked out at the door. He went back to his natural almost brooding stance, his feet bare with only socks on. “I should’ve brought Clark so I don't have to talk to a thousand people,” he stated as Alfred led them to the kitchen for a pre-bedtime snack.

“I don't know what stopped you this time, Master Bruce,” the old butler said. “Besides the relationship being kept under wraps.”

“He promised a night out with Lois. I should've invited the both of them.” The Wayne patriarch was pouting slightly now, regretting his choices. 

“I'm sure Miss Lane knows how troublesome you and your children are a group is. She may have forgiven last year's Thanksgiving, but I doubt she has forgotten.”

Stephanie smiled, remembering Thanksgiving. That was a lot of walls to clean with a toothbrush. It took longer because Alfred, justified in being upset and disappointed, kept pointing out tiny spots that they missed and they didn't stop until he was satisfied. “What 'bout you, best friend?” she asked Cassandra who had spoken yet.

The raven frowned. "Kingston. I don't like him."

“I could tell,” Bruce commented. “Was it about the kiss?”

“Kiss?” Stephanie repeated. “What kiss?”

“We're not speaking about it,” Damian said, scowling.

“Little Damian here got his hand kissed by a rich Englishman,” Dick teased, smiling. “It's sounds like something that came out of Jason’s books actually, but Damian’s way too young and too 'son of Batman’ to be a young woman looking to get married for love.”

“Kingston said Damian looked as handsome as Bruce,” Tim added, laughing a little. “Damian? Handsome? As if. More like Demon Brat.”

“Shut it, Drake,” Damian demanded, face a little flushed. “It won't happen again. I doubt I'll ever see him outside a formal setting.”

"I don't like him," Cassandra stated with a frown. "He looks as Damian and Bruce funny." 

“Oh? And how does he look at us?” Bruce asked for everyone, interested to hear what Cassandra had observed.

“Like a prize to be won. It's a game. I don't like him."

“Was he like this when you were younger, Bruce?” Tim asked as Alfred placed slices of Ma’s apple pie in front of everyone, and they dug in.

Bruce shrugged. “I knew of his attraction to me,” he replied, "but he always respected me when I told him no. Though he was constantly persistent. I guess his taste got stronger over the years.”

“Question!” Stephanie abruptly said. “Did you and Kingston do the nasty?”

The refrigerator door slammed close, in the most polite way of course, and everyone turned to Alfred. His sudden action interrupted any thought processes to be grossed out by talking about Bruce’s sex life. He was standing by the door, hand on the handle, and there was a look of offense on his face.

"Absolutely not," Alfred stated, looking crossed at Bruce in warning. It said to only tell the truth. “Is that right, sir?”

Bruce forced a cough, looking away as he couldn't handle Alfred’s parenting look too well. “Absolutely not, Alfred,” he confirmed.

None of the kids knew what that was about, so they moved on, Tim asking, “Should we investigate? I'm asking since he is your friend, Bruce.”

“There is nothing to investigate,” Damian interrupted, not looking pleased. “Kingston is merely curious. There is nothing beyond that. Father and I are both very attractive people, so it's not surprising to catch someone's attention, much less a homosexual man.”

“You noticed that too?” Tim asked, smirking a little. “I couldn't believe that he skimmed over Cass like that.”

“Me too,” Bruce said, the doting father he was.

Dick laughed, patting Damian on the head, much to the latter’s annoyance. “We're investigating,” he stated, as if there was no argument. “If Cass doesn't like Kingston, there is something up with him, and I'm not taking any chances, not when it comes to anyone in this family. Right, Bruce?”

Everyone looked to Bruce, even Alfred, and Bruce nodded, mostly because if he didn't, Dick would do everything himself and Cassandra's dislike for Edward was concerning. Not even the most pretentious and arrogant socialites even gained anything but polite curiosity from her. “Find trials on him, paper and digital,” he said, “but don't get near him as of it. We need to know what we're dealing with before we go on field work.”

“Father, I don't think this is necessary,” Damian protested, obviously not happy about this.

“Quiet, Baby Brat,” Stephanie told the youngest. She raised a hand almost excitedly. “I'm going to find out where he's staying and snoop around.”

“Steph—"

“I'm going with her,” Cassandra interrupted Bruce, which now made it two people who didn't listen to him well when they decided to go against him.

Bruce sighed, crossing his arms. “He'll be here around 1100 for lunch Monday,” he told them. “After he arrives, the limit is one hour, understood?”

The girls nodded, smiles on their faces. “I'll do the trailing,” Tim volunteered, “starting back to when he first took over his father's business, even further if nothing comes up.”

“Me and Jay will watch over Damian then!” Dick offered.

“I don't need protecting, Grayson!” Damian shouted.

“No honeypot,” Alfred warned.

“No honeypot,” Bruce agreed as well. “I'll leave Damian to you two, and I'll keep Edward busy. Report anything when you get it.”

Damian slammed his hands flat against the table. “You can't just decided on this, Father,” he said, looking more upset than he already was since the conversation started. “I should be more involved with this if Kingston is targeting me.”

“He's targeting you as Damian Wayne, not Robin,” Bruce reminded him. His expression softened from a look of irritation. “I'm not excluding you because I doubt your abilities, Damian, but if I cannot risk any of our identities. Edward is a smart man, and observant. Any slip up could mean trouble.”

Damian frowned, because he understood what his father was coming from. Instead of replying back, he walked out of the kitchen, not taking one look back.

Dick frowned. “He's going to make trouble,” he told everyone.

"Protect him," Cassandra said, determined.

“I want to get rid of Kingston already,” Stephanie added. “I'm actually hoping for it. I've never seen the kid walk away without a fight before.”

“I'll check up on him in a bit, Master Bruce,” Alfred assured. “And I shall be home the entire day Monday as well.”

“Thank you, Alfred,” Bruce said, grateful for such a loving grandfather to his children and a caring father to him.

“I'm going to attach bugs to him just in case,” Tim said, walking to his room. “Just to piss him off when he finds them.”