A/N - Prompt #16: Angular
Halfway there! :P
Damian stood in front of the picture window overlooking the front yard of Wayne Manor, a frown on his lips. It was raining. The sky gray, the world dark, sheets of water obscuring his vision and beating a steady rhythm against the roofs of the manor. The old-fashioned lamps behind him flickered.
Damian rested his fingertips against the cool glass pane, watching his reflection lean closer. A warm, heavy weight bumped his leg. Damian reached down to pet it, eyes never leaving the window.
"Good boy," he murmured. Titus panted happily and bumped his leg again.
"Ah, Master Damian." Damian lifted his eyes to spot Pennyworth's reflection wielding a duster with which he promptly attacked the display of Greek replica vases on a decorative table. "Have you found a subject yet?"
"No," he answered shortly.
Pennyworth turned, raising a thoughtful eyebrow. "Well, I wish you the best of luck, then." And the old butler was off.
About an hour and a half ago, Pennyworth had ushered Damian up off his bed, shoved his latest sketchbook and charcoal in his hands, and sent him off to find something to draw, all the while muttering about moody teenagers and healthy coping mechanisms.
Damian had bristled at the "moody teenager" bit. But truth was he had been feeling rather...unfulfilled, as of late. School plodded on as it always had. Father was rather apologetic about the whole thing—Damian was learning nothing new, he spent the eight hours bored and waiting for the home bell to ring—but sacrifices must be made for the sake of secret identities, and so Damian wouldn't be skipping grades. Besides that, although no one had ever expected, truly, that any of the Wayne children would meet a close friend at school, Father and Grayson had still held out some hope that Damian may make at least some casual acquaintances at the dreary institution.
(He thought of Dick talking about hanging out with his "police buddies", Cassandra coming home loaded with shopping bags and Drake running out to "catch a movie with some guys from school". He'd always scoffed at them but now, standing in the quiet, empty manor watching the rain fall, he could appreciate that perhaps a "casual acquaintance" would have brought some stimulation.)
Damian had thought he'd be used to people appearing and disappearing at will, yet the silence of the past few days grated on him immensely more than he'd like to admit. Grayson had decided to join the GCPD, and after getting his badge had once again left the manor, renting an apartment closer to the station. Drake had left with him, stating his own desire to be closer to the city proper ("There's Gotham U and WE and patrol and Bruce, do you know what the commute is like-") and the idea of splitting rent (Damian would never understand his siblings' need for financial independence, and their resistance to spending their father's money; they were, after all, literally heirs to the richest man in the country, at the very least).
Besides which, Drake had been puttering about even more frantically than usual.
"Midterms," he'd said, absently, last time Damian had visited the apartment.
"Your semester began two weeks ago."
"Mm-hm," Drake had agreed, leaning over a four-inch thick textbook.
Damian had left, soon after. Drake had informed him Grayson would not be returning for another six hours so there was no point in remaining.
(Had Drake not been so...absorbed in his books, there may have been some entertainment in riling him up. But the other boy had been responding to everything with an "mm-hm" or "you don't say", and both Drake's blatant ignoring of his brother and the condescension of the act had only gotten on Damian's nerves instead.)
Todd had taken off to space, apparently—
"Good riddance," Damian had sniffed.
Todd saluted them all. "Later, losers. I'll sure as hell be enjoying my vacation away from y'all."
—and Cassandra had returned to Hong Kong two weeks prior. Father had been attending a lot of meetings lately and even Thomas was rarely home, grumbling about chemistry and pre-calc as he left the manor for "study group". Pennyworth, of course, was always about, but the man had his own tasks about the manor to keep him occupied.
And so it was that Damian found himself waiting eight hours for school to end, only to come home and wait another six for patrol to begin.
Homework was a laugh. Calls from Cassandra were quietly coveted but rarely lasted even a half hour. Trips to Grayson and Drake's apartment were pointless. Damian's sketchbook was full of half-started projects he never quite felt like finishing after an hour, and one could only train alone for so long before it became overbearing. (He blamed his father. And Grayson. Maybe even Drake. And definitely Cassandra. Stupid "teamwork" talks and...Todd was the only one he would allow probably hadn't contributed to Damian's slow loss of true independence.)
Yet even when Batman and Robin—finally—patrolled, the streets were quiet. There were the usual mugging and such to deal with and he grudgingly put up with his father having the Signal shadow Robin from time to time. Occasionally they would meet with Nightwing and Red Robin, and more than one inane child's game of hide-and-seek, freeze tag, or cops and robbers had ensued. But every night as Damian went to bed, the night of patrol over and the memories of air and swinging and laughter already fading, he found himself once again longing for the next twenty hours to pass quickly.
(They did and they didn't, but they felt empty.)
Sighing, he once again wandered through the manor, halfheartedly glaring at the floor and glancing around every so often to humor Pennyworth in case the man snuck up on him. (The old butler could be insufferably persistent at times.)
So as he wandered into the main sitting room, it took him by surprise to find someone else inside.
Drake had shoved the center table against the couch and spread out textbooks, notebooks, and a flurry of paper across the floor. He sat with legs crossed and elbows resting on knees, the fake glasses he'd been wearing as long as Damian knew him perched on his head and a pencil tapping against the floor as he stared intently at the laptop set in front of him.
"What are you doing here?" Damian demanded.
Drake waved a hand, eyes never leaving the laptop. "More space here than in the apartment."
Damian snorted. "Perhaps you should have thought of that before choosing such a small apartment, Drake."
"Home is where the heart is, Damian." He reached out to scribble on one of the many notebooks to his right.
"Tt. I knew it was a terrible idea for anyone to be living alone with Grayson."
Drake actually laughed.
Damian lingered a moment in the doorway. Drake was obviously invested in his notes. Yet somehow it felt wrong to just leave. There was only one other person home right now and somehow it seemed to make sense that they both be in the same room rather than opposite ends of the manor.
Grayson, he grumbled internally. But still he left the doorway and crossed the room, hopping over Drake's river of schoolwork and scoffing slightly as Drake made a small noise of protest, scrambling to shove books and papers out of the way as Titus followed Damian with much less grace and regard for the older boy's papers.
He settled into an armchair across from his older brother, placing his sketchbook in his lap.
Pennyworth's footsteps echoed above them.
Ah, might as well.
He flipped open the sketchbook, pulling his knees up as he did so. He could see Drake, all knees and elbows, long fingers and hair, just over the top of the sketchbook.
He settled the charcoal against the page.
"Did you know Superman is probably a shapeshifter using a human form in order to not terrify people on earth?" Drake asked suddenly.
Damian looked up in mild disbelief. Only mild. This was Drake, after all. Drake who still hadn't looked up from the laptop. "What in God's name are you going on about?"
Drake's lips twitched. "Superhero theory in the 21st century," he stated, tapping a textbook with his pen.
"Why are you taking a class on superhero theory?"
Drake shrugged. "Elective. Worked best in the schedule." He finally raised his head, to send a smirk Damian's way. "It's a laugh, anyways. Did you know Batman could likely be from a different dimension and uses quantum phasing to walk through walls and make himself disappear?"
Damian couldn't suppress a snort at that one.
When Pennyworth entered the room and announced dinner, Damian was surprised—though not unpleasantly so—that he had not noticed the time pass by. As Drake closed his laptop and books, Damian reflected on the fact that precious brain space was now occupied with hours' worth of ridiculous theories on superheroes he knew quite personally. And his sketchbook was occupied by one finished drawing.
When Pennyworth asked later that night if Damian had finally finished a drawing, Damian reluctantly told him yes. (One did not lie to Pennyworth, after all.) And when he asked to see it, Damian complied with equal reluctance.
Drake sat on the floor, legs crossed. One elbow rested on a knee, sharp-jawed face tilted slightly where it rested on his fist. The other arm lay more limply over the other knee, pen tapping against one of many notebooks surrounding him. Glasses askew atop his head. Squinting at the laptop before him.
"It's wonderful, Master Damian."
Damian could not argue. It was indeed a wonderful rendition (even if the subject may have left something to be desired. Lord, he'd have to keep this sketchbook away from his siblings now.)