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Muddy Waters

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“The doctors agree.”

 

“Yes, but—"

 

“The detective has a new partner now. A better one. One who is perhaps worthy of becoming my heir himself. This one,” Damian watches his grandfather grasp Jason’s jaw and tug him closer, forcing his face up, “is little more than a broken toy you found on the street, barely suitable as bed warmer, let alone anything else. You are to continue your investigation into his resurrection but do not waste any more on his rehabilitation.”

 

His mother scowls at the words.

 

“I think you’re making a m—"

 

“Daughter,” Ra’s voice is oil, ready to go up in flames at the smallest spark, “Choose your next word carefully. Do you really wish to declare my order a mistake? I dare say that would be a more egregious one.”

 

Talia sighs, resting her hand on Todd’s shoulder protectively as Ra’s keeps his grip on the boy’s face tight.

 

“I think dismissing Jason as an asset in your dealings with the detective is… ill-advised,” she responds carefully.

 

Damian admires and respects his grandfather immensely. So it bothers him that he agrees with his mother. If Todd really is the resurrected, assumed-dead, son of the Batman (and Damian doesn’t see any reason they would construct such an elaborate lie and keep the truth from him) then seeing the boy again, ‘corrupted’ and allied with his enemy, would only serve Ra’s cause. It would certainly distress and distract his enemy.

 

Ra’s glares down at Talia before his eyes lower further to rest on Todd’s upturned face. The considering gaze rakes down from the shaggy black curls, across lowered eyes Damian knows are a vibrant blue, pauses at thin lips, before Ra’s takes a small step back without loosening his grip, to take in the rest of the skinny boy.

 

Jason and Damian had been sparing and the other boy is clothed in only the loose trousers they wear for training. He has been here for a few months and he’s filled out a little from the emaciated, walking corpse Talia had brought home. His muscles are defined and noticeable. But he’s still a bit thin.

 

Ra’s looks at him appraisingly, as though Todd is an item he is thinking of purchasing. The look makes Damian cringe.

 

His grandfather lightly shoves the boy back into Talia’s arms. “Have him bathed and delivered to my chambers.”

 

“Father, I don’t—”

 

“Did I ask for your opinion, child?”

 

His mother purses her lips and narrows her eyes before inclining her head in deference. As his grandfather sweeps down the corridor in the opposite direction, toward his study, Talia guides Jason back toward where Damian has been eavesdropping.

 

Talia says nothing to him as he joins her purposeful stride toward the bath. At only eight years old, Damian’s much shorter legs take two steps for every one of hers, but he manages the pace with grace.

 

They walk in silence for a few moments, moments Damian spends glancing up at the older boy. Damian has definitely seen an improvement in the months since Jason’s arrival. He still doesn’t react to anything that goes on around him but he stands straighter, gives Damian the smallest of smiles when they’re catching their breath after a session. And, although Jason still won’t meet Ra’s or Talia’s eyes, he does sometimes meet Damian’s.

 

His grandfather must see it too. So why is he acting like he can’t?

 

“Mother?”

 

“Yes?”

 

He glances back at Jason briefly as they stop in front of the door to the bath, before focusing a stoic expression on his mother’s face.

 

“Todd has improved. Should he continue to do so, he would be an invaluable asset in undermining my father’s operations. In this matter, it is obvious that you are right. Why does Grandfather not see this?”

 

Talia sighs, “He does see it, my love.”

 

“Then why—“

 

“I suspect he has other plans that he has not seen fit to share,” she grumbles, a little resentment seeping into her tone as she frowns, “Regardless, it is not our place to question.”

 

She says the last in a slightly mocking way as she reaches for the door.

 

Damian wars with himself for a second, knowing he probably shouldn’t say what he’s thinking. Then Jason shifts and Damian feels the need to register his discontent.

 

“Mother, I…”

 

She sighs again before he can continue. “This is my fault,” she says firmly, turning to face him, “I’ve allowed, even encouraged, the burgeoning bond between the two of you in the hope that one day he might become a skilled and loyal servant of yours. It seems I have perhaps been too permissive.”

 

Damian scowls down at Todd’s bare feet. It’s not as though he thinks of the older boy as a friend or… brother, but the facility is filled with assassins and servants, his grandfather’s and mother’s people. He’s never even met another person his age. Jason was the closest to… his he’d ever come. He doesn’t want his grandfather… tainting that.

 

“Some day,” Talia starts softly, tilting his chin up to look her in the eyes, “the world will be yours, my love. And no one will be able to question you. Until then, we obey the Demon’s Head. You must not become so attached to something that you are unwilling to lose it.”

 

She pats his cheek like he’s some kind of child and once again reaches for the door. “Fetch one of the servants for me,” she commands before nudging Jason into the humid room.

 

Damian follows her order. Then he picks the best of the hiding places in his grandfather’s quarters and waits.

 

 


 

 

 

Almost immediately, Damian wishes he had been content with his ignorance. But no, all his training, all his lessons… knowledge, information, no matter how seemingly insignificant, gives one power.

 

Talia enters with Todd, again wearing only the loose fitting trousers, but they are otherwise alone. With both hands on his shoulders she maneuvers him to stand at the foot of a large bed, facing the door.

 

She moves one hand up to cup his face before saying, “Wait here, Jason. It won’t be long.”

 

He doesn’t look at her, never does, even when she cards her fingers through his hair whispers an almost inaudible, “I’m sorry.”

 

Todd does as he’s told. He stands, unmoving, in the spot he’s left. Damian finds himself foolishly hoping that when his grandfather arrives, Jason is able to say something, do something to convince him to change his mind.

 

But Damian knows Jason. Knows that he only fights back, only defends himself when he’s being attacked. And even then, even if Ra’s get’s too rough, Todd is unlikely to react at all. He’s never lashed out at Talia or Ra’s before, even when they’ve threatened him.

 

Only a few minutes have passed between Talia’s exit and Ra’s entrance. Damian sees him pause in the middle of the room, back to Damian’s hiding place.

 

Without taking his eyes off Jason, Ra’s removes his cloak and the shirt he wears beneath.

 

“You really are a lovely boy,” Ra’s drawls, making Damian cringe, “Perhaps not as pretty as your predecessor, or even your successor for that matter, but handsome nonetheless.”

 

Todd doesn’t move. Doesn’t react to the words at all. Nor does he budge from his spot as Ra’s circles around to stand behind him, dragging fingertips across his shoulder to his neck.

 

Ra’s puts his free hand on Jason’s opposite shoulder, sliding it over scarred skin to meet the other. Damian swallows hard, worried, as his grandfather squeezes Todd’s neck.

 

It is a light enough touch. Todd stays still.

 

Damian suspects his grandfather is testing. Looking for the limits he can exploit.

 

One hand slides to the front of Jason’s throat while the other brushes down his spine, creeping lower and lower, stopping just above the swell of the boy’s ass at the waistband sitting low on his hips.

 

When his grandfather tugs at the band, slips his long fingers beneath the fabric, that’s when Jason reacts. To both Damian’s and Ra’s’ surprise.

 

He moves like lightening, grabbing the arm Ra’s has wrapped around him to hold his throat, and flips the Demon over his back.

 

Ra’s lands on his feet, crouched and ready, and immediately dodges the knee Todd aims at his face.

 

Damian knows the fight could have ended sooner. Would have, if his grandfather wasn’t maneuvering Jason to where he wanted him, a cruel smile on his lips. Even so, it doesn’t last very long.

 

It doesn’t matter how well Jason was trained, how magnificent his muscle memory is, he’ll always fail against a skilled opponent with all his faculties.

 

A swipe at the legs brings Todd crashing to his knees facing the bed. Ra’s is on him before he hits the ground, fingers tangling in thick black hair hauling him back up. Jason’s hands claw at the one on his head as he’s shoved forward. Ra’s uses his own body to pin Jason to the foot of the bed, bent over the mattress.

 

With his free hand, Ra’s unravels the green sash at his waist. He binds one of Todd’s wrists to the iron of the footboard before threading it under the boy’s torso to restrain the other as well.

 

With Jason secured, despite his thrashing, Ra’s steps back and takes a breath.

 

“Interesting,” he hums, running his hands down Jason’s back again until his fingers hook under the waistband. He continues speaking as he slowly pulls the garment down, past the boy’s thighs, knees, ankles, until it’s completely removed, “You have never attacked me before. Even when I’ve hit you.”

 

Damian scowls from the safety of his hideout as his grandfather pulls Jason’s cheeks apart and thumbs at his hole. Todd’s useless thrashing intensifies as he tries to fight Ra’s off.

 

“Perhaps it is the nature of the encounter,” Ra’s coos, mean smirk twisting his mouth as he slicks the fingers of one hand with the oil from a side table, “They say trauma tends to linger. Perhaps the traumas of your death and resurrection are not the only ones loitering in your damaged mind.”

 

Damian can’t help it, he looks away when his grandfather shoves his fingers into his fr— his subordinate. But he can still hear. He hears the thrashing stop, the strangled whimper, the muttered “Good boy.” He hears the wet, squishing sound as long fingers pump in and out, hears Ra’s’ quickened breath.

 

When he finally drags his attention back to them, he can see Todd’s face turned his direction, eyes distant and unseeing, mouth parted slightly as little puffs of breath are punched from him by rough ministrations. His fists, clinched in their bindings, mirror Damian’s grasp on his tunic.

 

He feels helpless as Ra’s frees himself and strokes more oil onto his hard length. Ra’s is tall and lean but fit, strong. Everything about him makes Jason look so much smaller, so… fragile.

 

“We will begin slowly,” Ra’s mumbles into Todd’s ear, as he lines up, “Break you in some before we move on to my more… demanding proclivities.”

 

Ra’s dips his thumbs inside and tugs at Jason’s rim, pulling him open, and presses his hips forward.

 

Todd closes his eyes and lets out a quiet, slightly pained, groan as Ra’s sinks into him.

 

Damian grinds his own teeth, these wounded sounds are the first he’s heard from Todd since his arrival. He forces himself to watch, to sear into his memory exactly the type of man his grandfather is.

 

The only thing Ra’s does ‘slowly’ is the initial breach. After that, he grips Jason’s hair in one hand and his hip in the other and thrusts into the boy with urgency. Eventually, Ra’s leans forward, without so much as a hitch in his pace, and bites Todd’s shoulder blade.

 

Tears bead at the corners of faraway, azure eyes before dropping to the soft, cotton sheets as Ra’s bites bruises into flushed, pale skin. It’s all Damian can do to hold himself back, to not spring from his hiding place and attempt to stop his grandfather. But he knows that would be fruitless. Suicidal. He’s not ready for that fight yet. He knows it.

 

The Demon gives a final hard drive with a grunt and all but stills, draped over the trembling body. Ra’s shudders and, with a couple smaller thrusts, tries to bury himself deeper as his release floods into the boy.

 

When he withdraws, he holds Todd’s ass open, and gazes with the same appraising look as earlier. Then he swipes a finger over the twitching muscle, allowing the tip to slip in shallowly, briefly, then raises it to Jason’s mouth. There’s no resistance when he presses the finger, wet with sticky white fluid, past dry lips. No fight, or even acknowledgement of the invasion, as Ra’s cleans the digit on Jason’s tongue.

 

“A serviceable and promising start. Especially for a damaged toy,” Ra’s drawls as he backs away, moving to a trunk on the far side of the room. He rummages around for a moment before returning with an armful of items saying, “With a bit of training, you are likely to be an exceptional concubine.”

 

Damian feels heat flood through him. Is this the ‘other plans’ his mother spoke of? Such an agenda is not only a waste of a valuable and unique resource but also likely to provoke the wrath of Batman in a way they can’t anticipate should he ever become aware of the mistreatment. Damian knows his rage is much more personally, emotionally, motivated than that, and that he will have to address the failing later, but he feels justified when his grandfather is letting his own desires so blatantly influence his reasoning.

 

His anger is further inflamed as he watches Ra’s kneel behind Jason, set the items on the floor beside him, and attach the first shackles to Todd’s ankles before securing the other ends to the feet of the bed. Then he sits up on his knees and carefully replaces the sash with the second set of shackles, binding Jason to the bed with hard, unforgiving metal instead of fabric.

 

He bites Jason’s buttock hard enough to break the skin and smiles as he smears the little dribble of blood into a wide, red splotch. Then he picks up the final item, a wide, jade plug, spreads Todd open once more, and shoves the toy in place with one quick motion.

 

Jason doesn’t make a sound. Doesn’t move. Just stares off into nothingness.

 

Ra’s runs his fingers through Todd’s hair and regards him with as much affection as Damian has ever seen grace those sharp features.

 

“Do try to get some rest, little one,” the Demon hums, fingers winding gently through the black curls, “I’ve decided to take a leave from my duties tomorrow. You deserve my absolute attention and diligence.”

 

Damian tries to swallow his frustration and impotence as his grandfather extinguishes the lights and settles into the bed, Jason at his feet. He’s too small, too weak, too inexperienced. There’s nothing he can do.

 

Yet.

Chapter Text

The way Ra’s is angled when he wakes gives him a lovely view of his new toy, lying right where he was left, restrained on his belly, torso bent over the foot of the bed.

 

The boy breathes evenly. Slow, deep breaths, while his eyes flicker behind his closed lids as though he’s dreaming. His black hair is longer than when he had first arrived and shaggy where it lays feathered across the white sheets. He debates idly about whether he wants to have the boy’s hair trimmed or let it grow out to be plaited with gold and emeralds.

 

Ra’s gazes at the youthful face, peaceful and relaxed behind the scars. He frowns at the physical evidence of the Clown’s torture marring otherwise fine features that will still likely one day grow into something rugged and beautiful in a distinctly masculine way. If things go according to plan, as they mostly do especially when the Detective is not directly involved, Ra’s will delight in one day watching the boy return that violence on the beast who savaged him. Whether Jason will be aware that he is taking vengeance on his murderer… only time will tell.

 

Speaking of plans…

 

He sits up, careful not to disturb the mattress, and glances over to where his grandson had been hiding last night. The child is long since gone.

 

The fact that Damian had seemingly not tried to kill him in his sleep is both surprising and promising. While a certain amount of the child’s arrogance and entitlement is expected and encouraged, it was beginning to get out of hand, especially where the fallen bird was concerned. Damian has been getting too attached, started thinking of Jason as his own. More importantly, Ra’s had noticed that Jason responded to his grandson’s presence, influence, and words more than even Talia’s.

 

Ra’s has plans for the once-Robin. Whether his catatonic state continues or subsides makes little difference. He is prepared with a strategy for either outcome. But the one thing all his strategies have in common, is that Jason’s allegiance be to him and no other.

 

Not to mention that nothing belongs to Damian until, or if, Ra’s gives it to him.

 

He believes Damian received the message. That he didn’t attack while Ra’s took what he wanted from Jason tells him that his grandson is wise enough to know that is a fight he can’t win and has decided to bide his time. Ra’s will have to be a little extra vigilant while Damian calms down.

 

He slides out of the bed, graceful and silent, and walks quietly to the end. Standing behind the boy, part of him thinks the jade plug wedged into that perfect little ass is beautiful and enticing. The other part is disappointed at his lack of foresight because all he wants to do is wake Jason by thrusting his already hard cock into him.

 

The teen’s wrists are still cuffed to the horizontal bar near his hips, ankles still shackled to the feet of the bed, pulling his legs wide despite the way his knees had buckled in at some point during the night when Jason passed out and they could no longer support him.

 

Ra’s lets his gaze slide down the scarred, muscular back, taking in the last hint of protruding bones, the quickly fading evidence of the boy’s malnourished state before his arrival. He hums in consideration as he deliberates on how he wishes to begin.

 

Finally he steps forward and drags a pointed nail from the base of Jason’s skull, down his spine, smiling fondly when the young man jerks awake, when he thrashes as Ra’s wraps long fingers around the heavy stone plug, and wiggles it around inside his body.

 

He leans forward.

 

“If you say ‘stop,’ child, I will do so,” he grins against Jason’s ear, tilting his head so he can watch the boy open and close his mouth as though trying to work a word past the little puffs of air Ra’s is pushing out of him with the movements of the toy, “If you remain silent, I will assume you are acquiescing.”

 

Ra’s ends the statement by pulling the plug out just far enough that the widest part stretches the reluctant little hole, and leaning back so he can see the whole pretty picture. Jason clenching his teeth and hissing through them, squeezing his eyes closed, every muscle in his lithe body tensing, including the one spread wide around a semi-precious stone for Ra’s’ enjoyment.

 

He shoves it back in only to pull it back to the wide part again, delighting in the irritated whine he gets as the boy’s face shifts to relieved briefly before falling back to discomfort.

 

This time he lets go, keeping his hands on perfect round buttocks to hold them open as he watches his pet’s hole suck the toy back into his pliant body.

 

He hums in appreciation and kisses the top of the boy’s cleft. He knows what he wants to do now.

 

The trunk at the other end of the room is large and full of fun toys and tools Ra’s has accumulated and acquired throughout his life. The oldest ones are simple creations, like the jade plug, that have stood the test of time. The modern world has perfected what was once outrageous fringe novelty into useful and effective pleasure enhancers. Over the many long centuries since he was born into this world he has, time and again, held and discarded many biases and prejudices regarding sex and the enjoyment of it as society’s understanding and perspectives on the subject shift. He is often far ahead of the curve in such things. Or occasionally behind, he supposes, glancing back to the impaired teen tied to his bed, as he’s never lost the appetite for youthful beauty.

 

He retrieves a bundle of green and black silk and couple other items made of leather and gold.

 

When he returns, he dumps them onto one corner of the bed before crouching and releasing Jason’s bruised and raw ankles from the steel shackles. He’s unsurprised when the boy tries to kick at him. But Ra’s easily dodges the flailing limbs, gets small yelp when he grabs the ankles firmly and starts to raise them over Jason’s back.

 

Exactly as Ra’s expects, the child grips the bar his wrists are still bound to and, when the awkward arch becomes too much, heaves himself up, swinging his legs over so that he’s lying on his back on the bed, arms over his head.

 

Jason struggles silently with him as he once again takes hold of a sore ankle but it’s nothing Ra’s can’t handle easily as he unravels the black silk ropes from the strips of green and ties each of the boy’s ankles to the iron circles in the decorative (but sturdy) bar connecting the bedposts above the foot of the bed.

 

Legs taken care of, Ra’s retrieves another black rope, wraps it around Jason’s throat, just twice, so that it crosses once in the front, then once in the back. He leaves very little slack when he takes the rope up to each wrist, wrapping them much more securely, before tying the silken ends together, knotted tightly between the boys wrists.

 

Jason’s arms are no longer fixed to the bed and Ra’s watches with amusement and a pang of intense arousal as the boy immediately throws his hands up to attack him and promptly chokes himself as the bit of silk around his throat is pulled tight by movement.

 

His eyes go wide in realization and he flops back down, hands above his head, coughing and trying to catch his breath.

 

Jason is showing much more range of emotion just in the last 12 hours than he has in his entire stay here. Ra’s thinks the onslaught of sensation, regardless of whether the boy perceives it as a negative or a positive, is having net positive effect.

 

He takes advantage of Jason’s self-incapacitation and the fact that his mouth is hanging open as he pants, fitting the gold ring of the gag between his lips and fastening the leather strap around the back of his head.

 

The first strip of soft green silk gets placed over Jason’s eyes and knotted amongst shaggy black curls.

 

Ra’s pulls the bottle of lube, discarded from the night before, the final piece of silk and the last item closer. He opens the bottle and spreads a generous amount of the lubricant over the toy while he admires his handiwork. The boy’s legs are spread wide, tied much more kindly than last night, in the air over his head, while his arms struggle to stay put so that he doesn’t choke himself again. His mouth is pried open and saliva already runs out of the corners of his mouth. He turns his head side to side as though he’s trying to find a way to see out of the blindfold.

 

Ra’s closes the cap on the bottle with his clean hand and tosses it behind him. Then reaches up and pinches a pink nipple, twisting it just hard enough to edge near painful. Jason tries to grab at him again on instinct, though his retreat much quicker than his first attempt as he coughs once more, this time unable to close his mouth to get control of himself.

 

“I think later I’ll call for the jeweler to come and pierce these,” Ra’s purrs, rubbing a thumb over the abused nub.

 

He drags his hand down the boy’s body until he reaches the soft cock. He wraps his dry hand around it and with the other presses the dripping gold rod to the slit at the tip.

 

“I would stay as still as possible for this part, child,” Ra’s drawls lazily when Jason jolts at the cool, invasive touch.

 

Ra’s smiles as he settles, breathing ragged, chest heaving, but otherwise lying motionless. He throws his head back and whimpers as Ra’s slowly but relentlessly presses the rod into the boy’s dick until just the flared end, sculpted into he head of a demon, remains.

 

Then, before Jason can get hard, if he’s going to, Ra’s begins wrapping his filled, limp cock with the final strand of green silk, beginning just below the head and working his way up, making sure that it’s a snug fit but not too terribly tight, and ties the ends into a neat little bow nestled in a smattering of black pubic hair.

 

Ra’s sits back on his calves and stares at the beauty laid out like a gift before him. The silk of the blindfold is already damp with tears and sweat. Ra’s alternates his attention from watching as the little movements of Jason’s arms tighten the rope around his neck before quickly slackening again, the pink tongue poking out to moisten his lips as an increasing amount of drool slides back across his face to drip onto his hair below him, the length of his boyhood covered in Ra’s’ colors, and his rim fluttering around the stem of the plug still held firmly in place in his pet’s lightly used hole.

 

“Stunning,” he hums, sliding his hands up and down the legs held in the air, pleased with the way his display turned out.

 

Then he takes his hands away and gets off the bed.

 

Jason turns his head, trying to discern where his tormentor has gone.

 

Ra’s sees him flinch when he swings the door to the room open, allowing it to slam into the stone wall. Then hears a discontented whimper when the movement jostles all the bindings and objects inside him.

 

“I will be confined to my rooms all day,” Ra’s informs one of the guards at his door, notes that the man takes the given opportunity to look past him at his bound bedmate, “Have our meals sent here. If anything arises take it to my daughter. I am not to be disturbed except under the gravest of circumstances.”

 

The guard bows, nods to his companion, and heads off to relay his master’s orders.

 

Ra’s turns back to the boy to see the second flinch as the door slams shut again. He really is already much more responsive.

 

Ra’s moves to stand at the end of the bed, runs his fingers through sweat-damp black curls affectionately, caresses the tear stained cheeks, hooks his fingers under the boy’s chin and tilts his head back.

 

Then he threads his painfully hard cock through the ring at the boy’s mouth until he’s buried in that wet, velvety heat. He sighs happily as the throat constricts, working to breathe around the intrusion. Jason tries to push at Ra’s’ hips with his hands but all that does is cut off even more air as the silk is pulled tight around his neck.

 

Ra’s starts slowly, fucking the boy’s throat gently, letting him get used to the motion. He doesn’t want to suffocate him.

 

But it’s not long before his pace turns harsh as he seeks his release.

 

The body beneath him trembles and struggles even as it tries not to move. The conflict is intoxicating and spurs Ra’s onward. He buries a hand in Jason’s hair and rests the other lightly but firmly around his throat.

 

He can feel himself there, feels his own cock slide back and forth beneath his fingers, as Jason whimpers around him.

 

His come floods the boy’s throat and mouth and pours out past the golden ring as Jason tries to swallow, cough, and sputter.

 

Ra’s grins as he withdraws, stepping back, and sees the angry purple-red head of Jason’s erection.

 

He pats the boy’s cheek before reaching up and flicking the gold demon on the end of the sound, drawing out another choked noise.

 

“Yes,” he mumbles, mostly to himself, “You will be perfect.”

Chapter Text

Damian knows that his grandfather expects him to come to terms with the new dynamic, to calm down after his initial anger.

But every time he sees the broken bird, Damian thinks it’d be so easy to kill Ra’s al Ghul in his sleep.
Todd looks so miserable with the sheer, flowing, gauzy pants of a concubine slung low on his hips, gold chain jostling between pierced nipples on his exposed chest. With his reddened wrists and ankles dripping with jade and gold bangles, cuffs, and chains, a necklace of purple bruises carefully displayed above a black leather collar with large metal letters spelling ‘al Ghul’, the pointed tips of which poke out over the edges of the band and dig into the flesh beneath.

He knows that isn’t true, that his grandfather isn’t any easier to murder in his bed than he is in a fight. But he indulges the fantasies each night he sees the old man playing with his shiny new toy. Ra’s al Ghul is the god of his domain. He sees no reason to restrict his carnal desires to his chambers. This is his house and he will do as he pleases.

It’s almost as though his grandfather goes out of his way to make certain that Damian catches them.

The first night Ra’s pulled the boy into his lap after dinner, Talia had ushered Damian out quickly. But not before he saw Todd briefly half-heartedly try to push away while his grandfather tugged at the chain with one hand and slipped the other down the back of his see-through pants, before he sagged, defeated, into the delighted old man’s arms.

Damian had made his way, unhurriedly, back to his own rooms, straight to his en-suite, and rid himself of his dinner.

The next time he’d stumbled upon them in the garden. He wouldn’t be surprised if his grandfather knew it was favorite spot and chosen it accordingly. Ra’s had Todd on his back, balanced precariously on the narrow wall that separated the lush landscape from deadly drop over the side of the cliff. Both of Todd’s legs were slung over one of Ra’s’ shoulders so that he was lying awkwardly, most of his weight on one hip, hands scrambling desperately and in vain for something to hold onto. Every time he tried to grab hold of the arm Ra’s had wrapped around his thighs to hold him in place, the old man would use his free hand to slap Todd’s away, chuckling softly as the boy flailed.

Not long after that, he’d been summoned to his grandfather’s study. He stared resolutely forward, kept his face impassive, and did his best to ignore the muffled whimpers coming from behind him while Ra’s droned on about nothing important. Damian doesn’t know what he did to upset the man, but he seems to be taking no small amount of pleasure from torturing him too.

Despite every single cell screaming at him not to look, to avoid giving his grandfather what he wanted, he couldn’t resist glancing to where Todd was strung up, silk ropes criss-crossing over his body in elaborate designs. There were wider strips of silk covering his mouth and eyes, both wet. But the one that caught his gaze was pulled taught, tied to the floor on one end and Todd’s balls on the other. But when he shifted to relieve the pressure on such a sensitive area, it just moved the torture from the front to the back. The change in position put more weight on the wide metal hook filling Todd’s hole, pressing it painfully deeper.

He believes, with every fiber of his being, the cruel display was for his benefit. And he doesn’t believe for a moment that his grandfather missed the way his breath hitched or the momentary falter in his step as he walked deliberately from room and directly to his balcony in an ill-fated attempt to meditate his rage away.

Killing in the name of the mission was one thing. He understood that. He didn’t have a problem with that. It was their responsibility to save the world, to remake it in a sustainable way. That is pure. Noble.

But this? He can’t abide this. This is wrong in a way Damian has never been taught but feels down to his bones. Jason isn’t less of a person, isn’t an object to be owned and toyed with, just because he can’t speak or interact with the world around him.

Damian still considers Todd his, of course. But his to protect and care for, even while Jason serves his plans.

Because Damian had been making progress with the older boy. Every time they sparred, Todd became just a little more whole. It was slow but the small reactions were for Damian only. The smiles, the meeting of the eyes… Todd did that for no one but him.

Now he does it for no one.

It’s not a complete regression, to Damian’s deep resentment. He’s spied on Jason’s and Ra’s’ private training sessions. The older boy soaks up the instruction like a sponge. His fighting has improved dramatically since Ra’s took over teaching. Which is all the more impressive considering how skilled he’d been before. While Todd doesn’t smile at his grandfather, he does express other emotions much more easily and openly. Anger, frustration. Hate.

Just a day ago Damian even heard him say the word ‘stop.’

Todd had made a mistake, leaving an opening for Ra’s to knock him to the ground. The Demon’s Head dragged the boy across the floor by his hair, bent him over a short bench, clasped the manacles shut on each limb, jerked down his training trousers and whipped him.

At Jason’s outburst, Ra’s had frozen for a moment, clearly surprised, before chucking and freeing the older boy.

“Don’t think that will get you out of everything now.,” Damian’s grandfather had purred, running his hand gently over the angry raised lines of skin on Jason’s backside while dragging the braided leather straps of the whip lightly over the expanse of scarred back, “ But this shows spectacular progress, little one. Well, done.”

Then, to emphasis his point, Ra’s had taken him while he quietly sobbed ‘stop’ over and over again, tears streaming down his face and nails scratching at the stones of the floor beneath him while Ra’s took his pleasure, pounding into the boy’s otherwise pliant body with vicious abandon.

That, more than anything else, is the motivation for the plan Damian is developing. Ra’s is starting to become aged enough that he appears frail. Soon he will use the Pit’s rejuvenating powers. When he does, Damian will use those moments where his grandfather can’t be ever vigilant to put Jason in too in the hopes of healing his mind. Then he’ll take Jason and run. To Gotham, perhaps. Learn what his father has to teach him before returning and claiming his birthright.

Damian may not be able to kill Ra’s al Ghul yet, but he can take Todd away from him..

He may only be nine years old. Barely. But Damian is confident in his ability to match wits with anyone. All he lacks is the superior physical strength. That will come. Until then, he will make due with his superior mind.

Only a few days later, he’s sneaking Jason into the lower levels of the compound. Down twisted steps carved into the earth itself and into a dark cavern lit by too few flaming torches. Anywhere else the darkness would be Damian’s ally. But here, in the house of Ra’s al Ghul, the stronghold of the world’s most accomplished assassins, the dim lighting is neither friend nor foe.

Things go according to plan. At first.

They approach the Pit without incident and the moment his grandfather’s head dips below the acid green waters Damian shoves a surprised Jason in with a splash.

Barely a heartbeat later his mother spins him round to face her, grip bruising.

“Damian, what have you done?!” Talia shouts at him. Without waiting for an answer she looks around desperately, pulls him to her in an embrace that feels so final and says, “You have to run. Now.”

“But Todd—“

“You can’t wait for him! If my father emerges first, he will kill you, Damian.” She starts shoving him to the steps. “I’ll do what I can for him. But you must go. Now!”

He starts his ascent, just a few steps, before turning back to the now placid pool.

“Make your way to Gotham as quickly as you can but do not tell your father about Jason until after I contact you—“

They both turn at the simultaneous roar of rage and scream of pain as both Ra’s and Jason surface thrashing.

“Leave now!” Talia cries to him once more.

With a final look at his fallen bird, gasping for air, and an unspoken promise to return for him as soon as possible, Damian flees.

 


 

 

It feels like being thrown into a tub of ice then tossed into a blazing inferno.

Alternating waves of debilitating numbness and excruciating pain ripple through him, mending his broken body and tattered mind.

It’s like that occasional moment between sleep and waking when your mind searches for where you are and can’t remember making you jerk awake, blinking at the room around you for a splinter of a second before you realize you’re in your own bed.

It’s like that. But bigger. A thousand times bigger and more intense.

It takes a moments to remember… he is Jason Todd. Robin.

He cries out as memory floods his fragile mind, sharp and overwhelming. A woman. A desert. A warehouse.

He jolts, eyes flying open, expecting to find the Joker standing over him.

But all he sees is a cave. All he hears are people shouting words he can’t make out. He’s vaguely aware of flurries of frantic movement around him.

What he latches onto first is that he drenched and shivering, standing half naked in a pool of unnaturally green water. Something tugs at his memory. The water should concern him but he can’t remember why.

He tries to call for Batman but his throat is dry and the sounds he are able to rasp out scratch at his esophagus painfully.

Muscle memory kicks in when a fist flies at his face and he leaps away, splashing through the water and quickly pulls himself over the ledge. A thick, heavy fabric is thrown over his shoulders and a woman steps in front of him arm outstretched to a looming, enraged man, with wide, insane eyes, dripping just our of reach.

“Wait!” She cries, “Don’t do anything yet. Wait until the madness passes.”

The seething monster man hesitates, something intelligent passing across his expression before he closes his eyes and takes slow, deep breaths.

The man is familiar but Jason can’t immediately place him. The woman too..

She turns back to him and nods at someone behind him.

He feels a slight pinch at his neck, which draws his attention to a heavy, uncomfortable weight around his throat. He doesn’t get the chance to dwell on it though.

Darkness creeps in along the edges of his vision and he spends the moments before he loses consciousness in a terrified panic. He doesn’t remember being scared of the dark before. But now… something in him is extremely fearful that he’ll never wake up again