A/N: Special thanks to Caro for the suggestion.
Damian Wayne, Robin, and Dick Grayson, Batman, were going through their usual routine: patrolling the mean streets of Gotham city. It was an unusually quiet night, the most urgent call they got was a low-key robbery, nothing the police couldn't handle on their own.
Still, it didn't stop Damian from being his usual pessimistic self. "-Tt-," he sneered, "This was the most uneventful evening of all time."
"And you should be grateful for that," Dick replied, "a quiet night means less danger on the streets. Our job is to protect the people from criminals not pick a fight with them."
"I fail to see the difference," Damian retorted with his usual snide.
Dick was about to respond to that remark, when the police scanner went off.
"Attention all available units," said the officer on the scanner, "We have a situation in progress. A hostage has been taken to the warehouse district. Suspect should be treated as armed and dangerous, repeat suspect should be treated as armed and dangerous."
Damian cracked his knuckles excitedly. "Finally, something interesting happens."
Dick rolled his eyes at his young partner's over-eagerness; obviously he didn't inherit his father's sense of subtlety, then again Bruce Wayne was never exactly subtle when it came to dealing with the bad guys.
The two hopped down from the rooftops and into the Batmobile in true Batman and Robin style and drove off to seek their target.
Once they arrived at their destination, the police and SWAT teams had already surrounded the area, planning their attack.
Per the norm, the two caped heroes first went to Commissioner James Gordon to be debriefed
"Commissioner," greeted Batman.
"I'll be quick," the commissioner replied, "all of the entry points have been closed off and the suspect has the hostage at gunpoint."
"Which is which?" Robin asked.
"The suspect is one Morris Martin," said Gordon, "he did a small bank job for some major league organization a few years back."
"And the hostage," asked Batman.
"A young boy named Horace Teller. His family heads one of the most prominent banks in the country. They came to Gotham on business, but got caught in a little skirmish. The parents are fine, but the kid has been holed up in there for almost 5 hours. We've tried entering the building, but we don't want to risk hurting the kid."
Robin projected a holographic, 3D schematic of the building on his gauntlet computer. "Looks like there's a hidden basement entrance we can use, schematics say that it hasn't been used in ages. We could probably sneak in through there, assuming it hasn't been sealed off."
Considering what Robin had said, Batman turned to Gordon. "Are there any other hostiles?"
"As far as we can tell, it's just those two in there," the commissioner replied.
Batman nodded in acknowledgement, and then he turned to Robin. "Shall we?" Dick asked with his trademarked cockiness.
"-Tt-," Damian responded, "just try and keep up, will you?"
If it weren't for the dead serious look in Damian's eye, Dick could almost swear that he was cracking a joke.
The Dark Knight told the commissioner to keep the officers on standby, while the two snuck into the building through an old, underground tunnel.
They crawled out of the cellar door, cobwebs tickling their noses. There, they saw a young boy sitting across the room on a chair. Strangely enough, he didn't seem distressed at all; in fact, even stranger, he wasn't even tied up. Walking up to him, was the man who kidnapped him; he had no weapon, no threatening look in his eyes, just tattered rags for clothes and a soft expression on his face.
He approached the little boy and crouched down to his eye level. The young boy then asked, "When can I go home?"
"Soon," replied the man in a soft gentle voice, "I just have to talk to the nice police officers, and then we'll all get to go home."
"You can say that again," said a child's voice from the shadows. He turned for a moment and saw a glimpse of a bright red, yellow and green before everything went black and blue. "Trying to kidnap innocent children," with each word Damian angrily breathed out was only deafened by the sound of him trying to pound his teeth out, "you know what I do to men like you."
Little Horace Teller had already fled from the confusion, which meant that Damian was ready to draw his blade because he didn't have to worry about scarring the child, but Dick stopped him. "Take it easy Robin," Batman said, calmly.
"That man is a low-life criminal," Robin protested, "whatever punishment I give him is a mercy compared to what he's done."
Said criminal began to stand up, still sore from his beatings, but there was a glimmer of pride in his eyes that could not be extinguished. "I may be a low-life, but I'm not going down without a fight." He grabbed a steel rod and was about to strike his blow, but Batman easily disarmed him.
"We're not here for a fight," said Batman, "Besides; I'd imagine you wouldn't be setting the best example to your son."
Damian turned his head, surprised by what he had just heard.
"So, you figured it out," breathed Morris Martin.
Batman tried to reply to him as calmly as he could, "Adoption and birth records show that Horace's biological mother was your ex-wife. She divorced you after you got arrested, and by the time you got out you didn't even know she was pregnant let alone the fact she gave the baby up."
Martin took a breath so deep it almost sounded like a laugh. "When I found out, she told me that I was an unfit father, that I would ruin my child's life with my criminal activities..."
"Because kidnapping the child was the best way to prove her wrong," Damian retorted. As he said those words, he thought back to his childhood, how his mother gave him everything he wanted, but she was never really there. She always expected him to be her perfect little assassin, but the only thing she seemed to love about him was whatever reminded her of his father…
"I may not be much, but she didn't even give a chance to try to be father," Morris cried out, "I didn't even get a chance." He softly repeated his last words over and over, until he melted into a pool of his tears.
Batman placed a gentle hand on Morris's shoulder. "Well then," he said, "here's a chance to be the father your son deserves."
Morris scoffed in reply. "I'm going straight back to prison when this is over, and I doubt his adopted parents will ever let me see him."
"Maybe they will and maybe they won't," Batman said, "but Robin has a point, you're not doing the best job at proving your ex wrong."
"It doesn't matter," as he spoke his voice crack at each word, "with my record they'll never let me near him."
"Until you try, you'll never know if you can. Prove to them that they're wrong, that you can be more than a 'low-life criminal'. Prove to them you're the father everyone said you couldn't be."
"And what if they still don't change their minds about me?"
"The decision is yours and yours alone," Batman emphasized, "after all, there's more to being family than blood. You need to show them that boy is more to you than just a blood relation."
"How did you know that man was his father?" Damian asked as he and Dick were perched on top of a warehouse rooftop, watching Martin being taken into police custody.
"There were clues: the kid came from a rich family, but there wasn't even a ransom note. The rest was just reading the signs: they boy wasn't tied up and the man didn't have any weapons, there weren't even any threats thrown around."
"So, all the man wanted was to be with his child."
"Yeah," Dick responded with a sigh, "and if seeing him the first time was so hard, it's going to get even more complicated. The Teller's already agreed for a couple of monthly supervised visits while Martin is carrying out his sentence, if he manages to make probation, but that's all they agreed to so far."
"Well, at least the child will have a chance to know his true father."
Dick turned to Damian, concerned. "And here I was hoping you were listening to what I said. That man may be related to the kid, but that doesn't make them family. Right now, they're complete strangers to each other."
"He's still the boy's father," Damian retorted with a surprisingly morose tone.
Picking up on Damian's sudden melancholy, Dick asked, "This doesn't have anything to do with Bruce by any chance?"
Damian quickly shook his head. "-Tt.- Of course not, but if a child shares blood with you, then you should be the rightful parent."
Dick took a deep, cleansing breath, crouched down to Damian's level and looked him in the eye. "You know Damian, when I was growing up in the circus, everyone was family to me. Most of us weren't related, but they were as much family as my parents were and I wouldn't take back what we had for anything."
"But when your parents died, you had to leave that family behind."
"I'll always miss them Damian, but they're not around anymore and I have another family now. And like the last one no one here is related to me, but they're still family."
Damian looked at Dick with a seriousness and softness that was rare for him and asked, "What was he like, my father?"
"I think that's the first time you've ever asked me that."
"Well, if Drake is correct about him still being alive, I…want to make a better impression than last time. So…"
"Well, he was one of those guys where you had a hard time telling if he was a mad genius or just mad. You never know what to expect from him, sometimes he becomes someone you know you can rely, other times he can be an even bigger nightmare than the criminals he catches. But, in spite of all that, I did look up to him."
"But you don't anymore?"
"When I was Robin all I wanted was to be just like him, but that's what happens when you grow up, you start wanting different things. Honestly, I hoped that I would never have to take the cowl again," he took a large, casual sigh of relief, "and now that your dad might be coming back I won't have worry about that for much longer. I'll go back to being Nightwing and you'll get to be your dad's Robin, just like you always wanted."
Damian didn't add anything because he didn't want to admit that he had come to dread the thing he wanted most in the world…
Damian remembered that case fondly and the things he learned from it; the bond between a father and his son was much more complicated than he thought. He thought he would've been glad with the return of his father, to finally get the chance to learn from the one true Batman, but instead Damian was mad that his father chose such an inconvenient time to return from the grave. As much as he hated to admit it, he realized that Grayson taught him so much more than his father ever did or at least he was willing to teach him.
He never imagined that he would come to enjoy his time as Dick Grayson's Robin so much, but that's exactly what happened and how he missed it.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to review and offer suggestions.