The first thing Thomas Wayne noticed was the stark moderness of the room.
The ceiling was absent of any dirt or disrepair, and rose dozens of feet in the air above so he could only guess at the material- probably some kind of specialized steel. The dark blue hue of the ceiling continued onto the parts of the walls Thomas could only barely see by turning his head, and the old man could feel the tough softness of what felt like a high-grade training mat under him.
Still didn’t explain how the hell he ended up wherever he was.
Thomas had been chasing Yo-Yo for the millionth time when the villain had simply yelped and disappeared over a building and fell to the ground. He had glanced over the edge to see her running away on the dirty street, but before he could a bright light had exploded in his HUD and he woke up in the strange… training room?
Thomas groaned, the idea of hallucinogen being his first guess while the more practical side of his thoughts turned to the afterlife. He was old enough, after all. Maybe the light had been a muzzle flash and the Batman finally fell to a goddamn bullet.
Rolling his head, and blinking his bleary eyes, the lone Wayne managed to pull himself up, pushing aside thoughts of how for those of where .
The voice was young, that much was obvious- only just out of puberty, and still vulnerable to those irritating cracks. But the youth didn’t mean the voice wasn’t deep, probably deeper than the average teenage boy (for Thomas knew it was a boy, but hadn’t had the joy of being around his own teenager as puberty came and went). There was an accent there, too, possibly Middle Eastern or Tibetan, but the tone was stoic, unflinching, and hardened- not at all like what Thomas presumed teenagers to sound like.
Out of curiosity, as well as caution, Thomas froze and managed to slow his breath as his eyes landed on the blade hovering just millimeters from his exposed mouth. It shone with reflected light on little scratches or worn areas, revealing how well-cared for the blade was. If he narrowed his eyes, Thomas could make out the barely visible, delicate inscriptions of Arabic lining the silver weapon, leading up to the hilt, which seemed ancient in contrast with the newness of the blade itself; the hilt being an inky black tamahagane decorated with, presumably, etchings of wars of old.
“Who are you?”
Thomas finally turned his gaze up, meeting the face of a teenager who couldn’t be older than fifteen, if that, but the boy’s eyes were covered by a dark green domino with white lenses, so Thomas was unable to discern an eye color. The teen’s black hair clearly had little care thrown into it, although sweat ran from it and down his tan face. Covered in some sort of muted red and green suit, the teen’s body was completely hidden from Thomas’ sight, the suit he wore being built like it was body armor and a black, hooded cape with yellow lining laid draped on the teen’s shoulders.
The teen leaned closer, but the katana’s blade did not waver.
“Who are you?” he asked again, a slight growl to his voice. “How did you get here?”
The teen barely wavered, only subtly tilting his head in answer to the calm feminine voice. A hand covered by a dark fingerless glove rested on the teen’s shoulder, and simply through the touch did the boy visibly relax, leaning back and allowing the katana’s blade to fall to his side but the hostile expression didn’t leave his face.
Thomas waited with bated breath for barely a second before launching into action the moment the teen dropped his guard- or, at least, Thomas thought he had. The Batman reached for the boy, taking sick joy in how the mask’s lenses widened briefly before the katana started to raise again to meet the older man’s blow, which was aimed to strike the boy unconscious. But to Thomas’ astonishment, his blow never landed.
Instead, he found himself unable to move, frozen in place by some unseen force. He watched as the teen’s lips tugged into a smirk and he sheathed his katana to a utility belt not unlike Thomas’ own, watching the old man with a closed expression.
“Thank you, Beloved,” the teen said, turning to speak to a figure on his right, “but I had that.”
“I know you did,” responded the girl, who Thomas took in slowly, not entirely able to believe his eyes.
She was about the same height as the boy beside her, with dark violet hair that stopped just short of her shoulders. Her skin was odd; the doctor in Thomas wanted to say she was pallor but the lilac tint to her made him discard that train of thought. Her outfit, on the other hand, was just as odd as the boy’s, if not more so with fingerless gloves on both hands, colored the same dark indigo violet as her leotard and leggings. Her cloak was longer than the boy’s, but flared out by some unfelt breeze which had allowed her hood to fall back as well, showing a face that was surprisingly young for the amount of power Thomas felt her exuding- it was palpable in the air.
With a start, Thomas realized that her eyes were glowing with a purple light, as was her extended right hand which was pointed straight at him.
She was holding him in place.
“Where the hell am I?” Thomas growled out, his first words since he had woken up.
The girl tilted her head, gaze piercing in a way that nearly made Thomas squirm- but the Batman didn’t squirm.
“You’re lost,” she stated, ignoring his question. Her eyes glowed ever brighter, and her voice gained an ethereal echo. “From… another…. ” Her voice faltered, and the glow grew as the boy beside her watched with tension in his shoulders, his hand never leaving the sheathed katana.
“You’re Thomas Wayne, aren’t you?”
Thomas’ eyes grew wide, mouth dropping open before narrowing his gaze as he realized her voice was in his head- her figure hadn’t moved.
“How do you know that?”
“Dr. Wayne, please.” Her voice sounded strained. “I am a telepath and empath. There is nothing you can hide, Dr. Wayne, not when you wear your heart on your sleeve.”
Thomas grunted, rolling his eyes as the realization of what exactly he was dealing with hit him.
“Let’s say I believe that; that still doesn’t explain how the hell I got here or where I am.”
The girl’s face morphed into an expression of amusement and pity. Thomas wondered at how she could pull off two such opposing emotions at once.
“Your son died that night in the alley, did he not?” Thomas felt his patience reach its breaking point as her face fell, her unextended hand flying to her mouth in shock. “And your wife… By Azarath…”
“What the hell do they have to do with this?” Thomas yelled, ignoring how the boy took a step closer and once more pointed his blade at his throat.
The girl’s eyes lost their glow, and Thomas found himself staring at amethyst eyes filled with sadness. Empath.
“Because, Dr. Wayne, in this world you and your wife perished that night, not Bruce. In this world, he survived. Your son is alive.”
Thomas felt as if his blood had turned to ice. Bruce… alive? Another world? Did I really travel to an alternate universe? Impossible.
“Liar,” Thomas breathed, not acknowledging how the girl had released her grasp on him as he sunk to his knees and glared up at her. “My son died in Martha’s arms. I heard him take his last breaths. I watched his casket get buried. I’ve mourned him for decades, alone. Bruce Wayne is dead.”
Thomas ignored the boy’s startled gasp and focused his anger on the girl, who was still staring at him with searching, wide eyes. She took a step forward, leaning down enough so that amethyst met sapphire.
“Your son has your eyes.” A sad smile appeared on the teen girl’s lips. “I can sense your hope, Dr. Wayne. Believe it, sir. I’m not sure how, but based on your appearance and status among the living, I presume you arrived from an alternate world. Bruce Wayne lives in the place of you and your wife.”
The teens shared a look before glancing at Thomas, but the old man paid them no attention. Based on their expressions, they were communicating telepathically, but Thomas remained in disbelief at the girl’s words of his son’s fate. He could believe an alternate world easily enough, given how many theories and subsequent evidence had been spawned over the years, but a world where Bruce, his precious son, was alive….
“Where is he?”
Thomas rose to his feet, towering over the teenagers. There was a parental instinct rising in his chest, something he hadn’t felt in decades, that he needed to find his son. He stared down at the cloaked girl, a little surprised at how she wasn’t reacting to his “Batman aura”.
“Where is Bruce?” he repeated, glaring down at the unfazed girl and frozen boy at her side.
“We know where he is,” the girl responded, “but there are some things you need to understand first, Dr. Wayne. It’s not a good idea to bring you to a world that believes you dead.”
The girl smiled, that sly and sad expression, before meeting his gaze. “I’m Raven.” Her eyes turned to the frozen boy, and Thomas followed her gaze. “This is Robin. He…” She paused, and Thomas imagined she was asking him a question mentally. The boy gave a slight nod, walking closer.
“He works with your son,” she finished.
“And you two are… what, exactly?”
“Heroes.” Thomas stared at the boy, but the teen wouldn’t look at his still masked face. “The Justice League protects the world from intergalactic threats. The Teen Titans protect it from lesser threats.”
“Bruce…” Thomas felt another chill go through him, a dark thought hitting him like a punch to his gut.
“Founding member of the Justice League,” Raven finished, her soulful eyes pitiful.
“Batman?” Thomas’ voice was hoarse, quiet, not at all like his normal voice. “He’s Batman, isn’t he? Oh, god…”
Thomas’ breath hitched and a pressure settled in his head and chest, suffocating him. On impulse, he reached up and wrenched off the cowl, vainly trying to relieve the feeling. Faintly, he realized the stunned silence emanating from Robin and Raven but stayed lost in his panic of the life his son had had in this world.
He couldn’t comprehend that Bruce wore the cowl, that his son had chosen to dedicate his life to Gotham and its protection. In a way, it was everything he had wanted his son to become, but not like that; not to where his son was beating criminals to a pulp night after night because no one else gave a damn about Gotham to protect her people. Thomas almost wanted to cry, dredging up memories of the countless villains and near-deaths he had had to endure over the years and imagining how Bruce had lost his life to an endless-
Been doing that a lot these past few minutes, he mused sort of hysterically, turning his blue eyes onto the katana wielding teen called Robin. The boy stood before him, and Thomas finally took in how lean and healthy he was, how the teen came up to nearly his shoulder, how similar his tousled hair was to Bruce’s when his son would wake up late, and how goddamn young Robin really was.
“‘Grandfather’?” Thomas didn’t dare breath, the word hardly a whisper.
Robin hesitated before reaching into his belt, grabbing a small gadget with a view screen and a tube, raising it to Thomas. The man didn’t even question, simply extending his arm and allowing the teen to remove a gauntlet and take a small sample of blood. Robin nodded, staring at the screen as it ran the test, before showing it to Thomas as confirmation for them both.
Thomas Wayne- 24% DNA match
Damian Wayne- 24% DNA match
Thomas stared at the small screen a moment longer, slow in his movement of finally looking up to look at Robin, who had, in the meantime, removed his domino mask. The teen’s eyes were emerald, not at all like his own or Bruce’s. Must be his mother’s eyes.
Robin nodded, face stoic but his eyes shining with vulnerability.
Thomas fought back his emotions, simply crouching and putting a hand on Damian’s armored shoulder. His grandson didn’t fight it, plainly watching him as Thomas looked at him with new eyes.
“Means ‘to tame,’” Thomas noted, a smile tugging at his lips as Damian rolled his eyes. “I assume it’s ironic.” Thomas paused, moving his hand from his grandson’s shoulder to grace the obsidian locks atop his head. “You look like your father…”
“So I’ve been told” was the curt response.
“Does…” Thomas swallowed, started again. “Is he a good dad?”
“Father is…” Damian frowned, eyes flicking away from his for just a second before sighing. “He is a good parent, yes. Mother kept me from him for the first ten years of my life, but he’s done his best since Mother forced me on him. Opinions differ among my siblings.”
Thomas blinked. “She left you?”
“It’s a long story,” Raven interjected, startling both Waynes as she appeared by Damian’s side. “Perhaps we should move to somewhere else and explain it all? Besides, you need a shower, Dami. You smell.”
Thomas chuckled as Damian flushed. “Do not!” he objected, scowling at the smiling girl.
Exaggeratedly, Damian sighed and moved out of Thomas’ grip to go to the showers on the other side of the training room.
Raven caught him before he could go too far, murmuring something Thomas couldn’t make out- possibly in Arabic? -before pecking Damian’s cheek and shooing him on his way. She turned to Thomas, a kind smile once more on her face as she faced the much older version of Batman.
“So, let’s try and find you something more comfortable Dr. Wayne. Follow me, I’ll give you the tour while Dami’s out.”