It begins on what he assumes is the third day of his stay, attached to the wall with hard rock encasing his limbs and chest. He's already escaped from his confines seven times- at the expense of many scratches and tears at his arms- and each time the level of rock just rose higher, covering more flesh and making breathing and blood flow just that much harder.
Ha hasn't eaten once since arriving, and the small amount of liquid tolerated is definitely not enough to be healthy. And he never wants to speak about the bathroom trips ever again.
And he feels tired. Tired and hungry and sore and-
And then, suddenly, he is released, his cuffs of stone retreating back into their natural state.
Immediately, he falls to the ground, limbs uncoordinated and lacking of all circulation. Slowly, with the help of the wall and several deep breaths, he's standing up, and then looking up, and then glaring up, for Slade is standing before him, perfect and unruffled and Gods does the guy make him angry.
His voice comes out more of a hiss than anything else.
But Slade just smirks, and then punches him solidly in the jaw.
Now, if Damian had had proper nutrition and regular intervals of movement the last few days, he probably would have managed to fend off the hit and retaliate, perhaps driving Slade back enough that he could have managed to get out of the cage of a room and out to the world beyond.
As it was, he's been hanging off a wall in a dimly lit room for several days without food, water, or even proper rest.
And so he goes sailing, slamming into a wall with a soft grunt and slipping to the ground below right afterwards. He makes himself stand, but then Slade's there again, and he s really beginning to not feel very well, but all he can do is swipe sweat off his brow and grit his teeth and get on with it.
He's reminded, jarringly, of training with his mother, but that concept gets ignored.
There's no time to think. Not now. Later, later-
He manages to push away the pain, to focus only on the adrenaline running through his veins, to focus and to breathe and to fight.
And that's what they did. They simply fight, and Damian knows something is going on, he knows it, and isn't sure how he fits into the situation but he sure as hell isn't going to simply lie there, surrendering, while he can still get up and throw a punch.
And when Slade finally does get a good kick in, a solid one to the head, and Damian is left on the ground, breathing hard and dizzy and with black encroaching his vision, he thinks he sees the wavering image of Slade bending down and scooping him up, swinging him around and holding him like a sack of potatoes. And Slade's voice, distorted and muffled with Damian's wavering hearing commands Terra- the poor, misguided fool- to get ready to put their plan into action, and gets the inkling sensation that things are going South very quickly
But he can't know for sure, because he's falling, falling, and then all he knows is darkness.
He wakes up once or twice, the first time in a cramped unfamiliar room with earthen walls and a musty smell that is roughly the size of a walk in closet. He looks up, vision blurry and thoughts distant, as a serine woman in a red dress and shawl smiles creepily down at him, a vial with yellow liquid and a sharp needle poised right above the crease of his elbow.
He tries to move, to get away, but he's too late, too late, and then his world is swallowed by black once more.
The second time he wakes up is when someone starts placing him into some sort of contraption, large metal cases snapping around his arms and pinching. He hardly managed to open his eyes before something is hitting him- the butt of a gun, his mind informs him- and he's out again.
The third time he wakes, he's no longer alone, something he's not too sure he is happy about, because this is his team, and now they're all captured and helpless.
They're talking to someone- a bald man with an overzealous costume, Slade standing by his side, and Damian is angry and there is adrenaline in his blood even though he's feeling so tired and ill and everything hurts.
"No god is going to save you, Deathstroke."
He might have said more, if not for the electricity suddenly filling his veins, making every cut and bruise and sprained bone burn with the fire of a hundred suns. And he's not sure what the hell is going on, but it sure as hell hurt.
And then suddenly the clasps are releasing them and he is falling to the ground, boneless. He tries to catch himself, and he mainly succeeds, but then his limbs go jittery and he's left trying to catch his breath, his hands on his knees just to the side of the machine. He sees, distantly, Dick giving a Kory a hug, and even more distantly he wanders where his hug is, because, you know, he has been the one missing the last few days, but then he realizes that Dick probably doesn't know, receiving the false texts that were actually very realistic, and that he cant't hold it against him. And then he's standing up, because there is fighting, and his team needs him even though all he really wants to do is sleep for a week
(His stomach has long since given up from cramping in hunger.)
The adrenaline in his veins makes fighting a whole lot easier, makes the pain go away for a while, but he knows he's being sloppy, that Nightwing is making up for him and then some- What is up with the man's arm? It looks like it's been dislocated and then popped back in or something…- because a fight with the two of them against Deathstroke should not have lasted this long, not with both of them fighting as one.
The next thing he knows, rubble is falling from the ceiling, pounding onto the floor below and covering everything in a constant stream of threat of death by squishing. They're running out of the massive cave- Cave, when had he gotten into a cave? Last he knew he was cemented to a wall… And since when did Terra suddenly hate Slade? What was going on?- and into the daylight beyond, evacuating, and Beast Boy is screaming for Terra, even as said girl is screaming just in general, fiery yellow glow covering the whole darkened area with light. But no, Beast Boy can't go to her, because Blue Beetle and Nightwing are grabbing him, pulling him back, and they are running, running, running even as his head keeps pounding, pounding, pounding….
His legs feels wobbly, and his chest aches- his everything aches- and his throat is uncomfortably dry, vision blurring at random moments only to refocus into highly distinguished images seconds later, hearing only catching every few words, as if all the noise is muted underwater.
And then they are outside under the softly setting sun, but it is still too bright, too bright after days of artificial lights, and his knees were starting to shake now that the adrenaline is fading from his systems, and shit, when had it gotten so hard to breathe?
"Are we done yet? Is it over?"
He's asking the words, he can feel his lips moving, but everything seems so far away.
And everyone is a little subdued but Jaime is saying, yes, yes we're done, we're done and Damian has never felt so relieved.
There must have been something in his voice, or maybe a slight waver in his posture, because everyone is looking at him now, even Beast Boy, whose eyes are wet and red rimmed.
And it doesn't matter, because Damian only has eyes for Dick, who is already steadfastly heading in his direction, abandoning Kory, hands reaching out for him.
And his legs are so tired and achy, and he is so tired and achy, even beyond that, he's in constant, throbbing pain, and his throat is still dry and his head's still pounding and his ears are still ringing but yes, he can finally let his guard down a bit, he can finally rest.
"...I think I'm going to pass out now."
And then his eyes are rolling up to the top of his head and black rapidly encroaches his vision, body crumpling to the ground, and then Dick is there, catching him and cradling him against his chest like a child, a steady stream of curses leaving his lips as he comes to the realization of just what has been going on the last few days, and Damian would protest and shove the elder man off if the other hadn't been so ridiculously comfortable and his own bones so ridiculously tired…
"Dami? Dami, I need ya to stay awake, bud…"
His eyes flitter open, landing on Nightwing's wide, wide worried eyes, but then they close again. He's so, so tired…
"C'mon, kid… stay with me here…"
And there are motions, motions of people running, or people driving, perhaps he's even in the air once, he can't really tell, but the next thing he really knows is that he's in a hospital bed in a pair of sweatpants and an Oxygen mask around his face, and he's not sure why but it's getting really hard to breathe and-
And his eyes are wide, wide, wide, and he's pretty sure he was in the middle of an operation and that meant he should stay very still but the drugs in his systems are addling his brain, and he doesn't like this, doesn't like how his hands are cuffed- how he's trapped, and he wants out, and he wants it now.
He struggles, yelling… something, he's not sure, and then Dick is there, releasing the cuffs and placing his hands on either side of his head, holding him steady and looking him directly in the eye, letting loose a constant, soothing stream of words that Damian can't quite catch but are calming nonetheless.
"...-alm down, Dami, I need you to calm down. It's me, Dick, you're back at the tower. You've got a couple broken ribs, kid, one of 'em has punctured a lung. We'd give you more drugs, but the amount in your systems isn't really safe in the first place, so I need you to calm down and stay very, very still for me, yah? Can you do that for me, Dami? Just until we get Raven, ok? Just until we get Raven, you've got this, Dami, you got this…"
And Damian's own hands are snapping up, grabbing Dick's forearms and he breathes hard, hard, hard, mask fogging up with every breath, every muscle tensing and straining against the pain, against the urge to yell and shout and struggle and hide.
Dick's eyes were very blue, he notices. And worried. He wanders why.
And then Raven is there, and Dick is moving away, and something inside of him is screaming in protest against the action, so he reaches out and grabs for the older man's hand, squeezing it hard as soon as he finally manages to nab it. Dick looks startled, but stop his retreat, taking a step closer and rubbing a hand through Damian's hair, even though it's probably gross and sweaty-
And then hands touch his temple- cold hands, Raven's hands; her fingers are cold, they're always cold- and suddenly he's so, so tired, his body relaxing against his will, the muscle tension fading as the pain travels off into some different realm, and his eyes slip shut, but Dick is still there, still holding his hand, giving it a tight squeeze as the world is lost to the darkness once more.
And the next few days the world is kind of blurry from the steady stream of bad drugs getting slowly flushed out of him and good drugs getting slowly pumped into him, but at some point or another it's in the middle of the night and his chest is bothering him and his arms are stinging from where Starfire removed the dozens of little pieces of rubble that had been impaled into them- Who knew that being contained by solid rock could leave so many tiny wounds?- and Dick is there, helping him sit up from his cot and half carrying him to the lounge, where they sit and and watch stupid cartoons together till the sun starts to rise somewhere in the distance, bathing the room with golden light.
And he would have protested if Dick's shoulder hadn't been so comfortable, or if he hadn't been so tired, or if the drugs in his systems didn't make him so loopy, but as it was, he lets himself rest heavy on the man's arm, curling up to the other's body heat even as his gaze blurs the colorful shapes on the screen.
And then he 's falling asleep, hardly hearing as Dick murmurs something about how the computer should tint the glass, and hardly realizing when the machine does just that, leaving the pair of them in darkness.
He wakes up a few hours later, and Dick is still besides him, mouth wide open in quiet little huffs and he sleeps. Someone has thrown a blanket over them both, and Damian would have been embarrassed, but no one is there and the room is still dark, and even though he thinks he can hear voices somewhere in the distance, he's pretty sure they won't be unbothered for another few hours.
So he closes his eyes and falls back asleep, and at last the world is okay again.
He can always blame the drugs for his behavior later anyways.
It was going to be okay.