In the end, he had to be carried to his new home.
(Home. He'd used that word so many times before in the past, but it'd never felt like this before. In the past, it'd meant cavernous walls, an unending schedule, extreme loneliness and busyness spun together.)
(Now? Now it felt like Marinette's soft looks, her gentle touch, warmth and care forming a fuzzy blanket that almost had him purring just thinking about it.)
He'd managed to walk out to the elevator and leave his father's office. As soon as he stepped foot in the main entryway, he just couldn't seem to find enough oxygen. He breathed faster and faster, his head swimming as fireworks exploded behind his eyes.
Focusing on Marinette's face, he tried desperately to keep himself conscious and upright. She helped support him, throwing his arm over her as she tried to keep him from crumpling to the ground.
Bright pink light flashed over her, a familiar mask forming on her face.
He was on the floor.
Why was he on the floor?
He looked up.
His Lady looked down at him, terrified.
He didn't like that look on her face.
"I'm- I'm fine," he mumbled, he tried to reassure her.
Her eyes crinkled, tears shining in her eyes. "You're NOT fine. No one would be. You don't need to pretend for me, Adrien."
She propped him up on her lap. "I- I won't pretend to know what this has been like. I can't even imagine what you're feeling right now. But no one expects you to be okay, Adrien. I don't expect you to be okay. And I don't want you to force yourself to appear fine to- to make me feel better!"
He swallowed. That- he had to admit that was a factor. He was so used to being ignored or chastised if he showed any negative emotions, he just… kept on trying to hide them. He knew Ladybug wouldn't leave him or lash out, or even just dismiss him if he expressed his distress, but-
A little corner of his brain kept on nagging at him, telling him to keep on smiling, to keep quiet, or he'd lose any scrap of comfort and affection he had.
"I- I-!" he choked, a solid lump in his throat impeding his words. She just held him tighter, her own tears falling on him as he sobbed.
After several minutes, he began running out of tears. Ladybug stayed with him the whole time, stroking his hair, never making any move to dislodge him or hurry him up.
He must've looked awful at this point, red-eyed and bleary-faced, snot trails running from his nose.
But while his father would say how unbecoming he looked and order him to clean himself up, Ladybug showed no sign of disgust.
He knew she wouldn't. He knew it! She'd even comforted him as he cried before, but- after fighting his father. He just. He had trouble making himself believe it.
Gently she asked, "Do you think you can stand?"
Swallowing thickly, he nodded. Ladybug helped him to his feet, partially supporting him.
He was grateful for it. His legs felt as wobbly as a newborn giraffe's. If she let go, he was afraid he might fall again.
She shot him a concerned look but said nothing, helping him out the front door of the mansion.
She stopped, biting her lip. After a moment of glancing back and forth between Adrien and somewhere off into the distance, she hesitantly asked, "Would you like a lift? Only if you're okay with that!" she added hastily. "I don't want to make you feel like you have to do anything or take any options from you, I just- I don't want you to overexert yourself and get hurt."
Her carry him home? Unbiddenly, his mind shot back to earlier that day - was it only a few hours ago? - when she carried him to a distant rooftop to talk.
Being held in her strong arms, knowing how powerful she was, but that she'd never hurt him, that she'd be gentle and kind and try to protect him - not like his father's "protection" that was just an excuse to control him, treating him like a possession? But actually paying attention to how he was feeling and any signs of distress and adjusting to make him more comfortable -
It- it had made him feel cared for, feel heard, in ways that he hadn't experienced since Mom disappeared.
He nodded, trying not to look too eager. "I'd- I'd like that very much."
She gave him a small smile, picking him up.
It was a short trip - Ladybug could travel fast when she wanted to, and the mansion wasn't really that far away from where she lived. Still, it was a nice respite before he had to deal with the world again. He could just concentrate on the wind in his hair and Ladybug's support and not have to think about what just happened, or what would happen next.
Too soon it was over. Ladybug alighted on her balcony, placing him in her lawn chair.
He relaxed into it for a moment, just letting himself go limp.
"Do you want me to get my parents?" Ladybug asked. "Or would you like to come downstairs and talk to them there? Or just wait a little bit? We'll need to talk to them soon, but - it doesn't have to be now."
He took in a deep breath and let it out. "I think I can make it down the ladder. Are you sure they'll be okay with me being here though?"
Ladybug let out a quick, sharp laugh. "Once they find out what happened, you'll have a hard time getting them to let you go. Adrien, I'm pretty sure they've been planning our wedding since you first came over to train for that Ultimate Mecha Strike III tournament. They'll be FINE with you staying over, I promise."
Well if Ladybug was saying this, then it must be true.
Gingerly he extracted himself from the chair. Ladybug hovered over him, ready to catch him if he fell.
At last he stood up, feeling steadier than he had a few minutes ago. "I think I'm ready."
Getting down the ladder and the stairs was an adventure. Ladybug went first, waiting for him at the bottom just in case. He made it down the ladder fine, though he sat on her bed a moment before braving the stairs.
Marinette detransformed and went on the first step, staying just a few steps in front of him in case he collapsed. He didn't totally like that approach - if he fell, he might take her down with him - but she wouldn't let him go downstairs without her having the possibility of catching him.
"Marinette? Where've you been? We've been so worried- ADRIEN?!"
He startled slightly, shrinking back.
Marinette gave a sheepish smile. "Sorry mom, with everything that happened, I forgot to look at my phone."
"Plus I was unconscious for a few hours," she muttered under her breath, quietly enough that only Adrien could hear it.
"Everything that happened…?" Sabine peered at Adrien and Marinette more closely. "Adrien, have you been crying? And both of you look dead on your feet! Are you two okay?!"
Okay? Adrien let out a quick laugh. It sounded almost like a sob. "Not exactly. My Father's Hawkmoth."
He and Marinette sat down and explained, improvising a story of how Ladybug and Chat Noir had teamed up with Robin after having discovered Hawkmoth's identity (thankfully the news had been speculating about Robin's appearance in Paris for the past few hours, so they didn't need to come up with that part of the story).
"Ladybug knows Adrien and I are friends," Marinette explained. "She asked me to come with her to help break the news to him. She didn't want him to first discover this through the news, and she figured that with his whole world breaking down around him, he'd need a friend."
"Ladybug and Chat Noir took us somewhere safe and out of the way while they helped deal with Hawkmoth," Adrien chimed in. "I'm sorry I occupied Marinette for so long, please don't be mad at her."
"I'm not mad. Marinette, I'm proud of you for helping your friend. What do you two need? Have you eaten lately?"
Adrien blinked. Come to think of it…
"Some food would be great, Mom," Marinette told her. "As for something we need… could Adrien stay here? At least for now. This hasn't hit the news media yet, and the idea of him staying in that mansion right now…"
Sabine nodded. "Of course. I'll need to tell Tom, but Adrien, you're welcome to stay as long as you need."
"Tell me what? Did you find out anything-? MARINETTE!"
Tom rushed over and swept her into a hug.
"Let her breathe, Tom."
He let go, stepping back a bit. "You better have a good explanation, young lady," he told her, attempting to put on a stern parent voice, somewhat undercut by the bear hug a moment before.
He glanced to the side, noticing Marinette's guest. He began to grin. "Adrien! This is a surprise. Do you have something to do with this?"
Sabine shook her head. "He does, but not the way you're thinking. I'll explain while we fix the kids food, they've had a long day."
He and Marinette spent most of the rest of the day in her room, playing video games, trying to put the Hawkmoth situation out of their minds, at least for awhile. Tom offered to set up the sofa in the living room for him for the night (after giving him a crushing hug; Adrien appreciated how much Tom cared, but he wished the care wouldn't hurt so much).
Staying in the living room sounded tempting, but… he'd ended up asking to stay with Marinette, at least for this first night. Tom had given him an understanding look and pulled out an air mattress for him.
He woke up during the night, and just… couldn't get back to sleep. After awhile he started to feel antsy. He didn't want to wake Marinette up, but he desperately needed fresh air. Very, very careful, he stepped on her bed, being careful to stick to the edge of the mattress so as not to step on her (she may have been sleeping heavily, but he was pretty sure that at least would wake her up) and opened the hatch door onto the balcony.
Breathing in the cool night air, he sighed. Normally he'd transform and run around rooftops when he needed to clear his head, but Plagg had been sleeping as well.
Plus, well… he wanted some fresh air, but he didn't really want to go that far away from Marinette. Not right now. Not after everything that'd happened.
"You're up late."
Adrien whipped around.
Robin stood behind him.
"How did you- How long were you- You weren't there a minute ago!"
"How did you do that?!"
"Gabriel Agreste's memory has been wiped of the last 12 hours," Robin announced, completely ignoring his questions. "I took the liberty of informing the police of his identity and his location."
"The second secret lair, the one he appears to have been sending butterflies from. I left Nathalie in the first one. Both knocked out, and with certain measures in place to ensure they don't escape even if they do wake up. With the photos and notes I left, it gives the police a certain… 'incentive' to check out those locations, and an excuse to do so."
His stomach flipped.
Nathalie and his father.
Everything rushed back to him.
He'd been trying to distract himself all evening.
But it lingered in the background, as impossible to get away from as Plagg's stinky cheese fumes.
He dropped onto the lawn chair, curling in on himself.
"Your mother had you killed, your father and brothers only tolerate you because they don't know the true depths of your evil.
But I understand. I can help you. With my help, you can erase everything wrong you did, undo all harm. You won't have to worry about the rest of your family abandoning you anymore, and finally you can be free of the guilt."
He startled, his father's offer resurfacing from the depths of his memories.
He wasn't the only one hurting.
"Robin… what my Father was talking about when he tried to akumatize you…"
Robin turned away, looking off into the distance. For a moment, Adrien feared he'd scared him off.
"You're not the only one with a terrible parent."
Obtaining a Hypnos implant hadn't taken long. He'd only had to gas Gabriel twice to keep him asleep. He would've just kept punching him unconscious, but that actually MIGHT give him brain damage, and while it would've been no great loss to the world, he had a feeling that Adrien at least would've cared.
No, Gabriel would have to look Adrien in the eye and try to explain to him how, WHY he was willing to hurt so many people so badly.
To hurt ADRIEN so badly.
It probably wouldn't be satisfying, but- at least he could ask.
And not fear winding up on the other end of a cane.
He'd wanted to update Adrien and Marinette on what he'd done, but he hadn't really expected either of them to be awake. Adrien's emergence from the hatch had been a pleasant surprise.
He hadn't expected to be asked about his past.
But… maybe it would help. If anyone could understand what Adrien had just gone through, it was him.
"You're not the only one with a terrible parent."
Adrien blinked and frowned. "I remember Father saying something about her having you killed? That… that must've been a mistake, right?" He gestured at Damian. "I mean, you're here now, you're not dead. Unless those rumors about the Batfamily being vampires was true."
"It wasn't a mistake."
Adrien looked confused.
Damian sighed. "My father didn't know I existed. My mother didn't tell him, not until a decade later. She wanted to raise me her way - as an assassin, and heir to the criminal organization "The League of Shadows".
"I was six years old when I killed another person for the first time."
Adrien gaped at him, eyes bugging out of his head.
Hm. Guess that wasn't a regular thing to hear for him? He knew he was fairly young to be a killer, but in the circles he ran in, it wasn't THAT unusual. At least to be trained to kill.
If something as minor as that shocked him, the rest of his background was going to be nearly inconceivable.
But he needed to try. Some of the things Gabriel had said and done to Adrien were very, very familiar. He needed to know he wasn't alone.
"When I was ten years old, my mother dropped me off with my father, Batman, temporarily. She took me back soon afterwards, but… well even then, I knew I'd rather stay with him, than with her."
"Yeah, no wonder," Adrien muttered.
"Tt. Not long after I ended up in Gotham again, this time to stay. But… most of my family didn't trust me. Father certainly hadn't. Nightwing and our butler, the man who raised my father, were the only ones to give me a chance.
Nightwing made me his Robin. Made me his partner.
Mother didn't approve. When my spine was broken-"
"Your spine was WHAT?!"
Frantically examining Damian from every angle, Adrien nearly vibrated with concerned energy. "How are you STANDING? Do you need to sit down? Are you okay?"
Yeesh. Adrien mother-henned worse than Grayson did. He waved his hands dismissively. "I've had worse. Not like I could feel it after the paralysis, it was just annoying. The bad part was, needing to go to Mother for a spine replacement."
He shuddered. His mother's words, her attitude… he'd seen them mirrored in Gabriel.
Two Years Ago
"I cared for you when there was no one else. I believed in you."
Of course Mother sat on a plush throne, specially raised up several steps. Made it easier to look down at him, especially right now, with being confined to this cursed wheelchair.
She always did have a flair for the dramatic, for letting him know who was really in charge.
"And I know what's best for you, Damian. To see you squander your future on a delusion, well… that's what breaks my heart."
Breaking her heart? Yeah right.
"I saw you rarely during my education and upbringing, Mother. I knew you by reputation alone. When we were formally introduced at my eighth birthday party, it was like meeting a movie star. This appeal to emotions comes a little late."
Her face hardened. "Don't you understand how it suits them to indulge this affectation of yours? They do it to keep you from realizing your greatness. They feed you lies and distortions."
She rose from her throne, descending the stairs down to his level.
"Do you honestly believe these… crimefighters trust you? Or accept you? Damian, their plan is to tame and brainwash you until nothing is left but a spineless puppet."
Crouching down, she reached out a hand, gently caressing his cheek.
"The world could be ours. Stay with the circus oaf and his butler and perhaps you'll be lucky enough to rise through the ranks of the Teen Titans. Or not. Your father is gone. His former Boy Wonder is barely fit to wear his mentor's mantle and you…"
His mother could try to manipulate him all she wanted, but insulting Grayson?
"You're wrong. Dick Grayson is…"
She put her fingers against his lips, silencing him.
"Shh. The time has come to do as your mother commands. And end this nonsense at one stroke…"
He turned around, wheeling away. "I won't be your weapon against them, Mother."
Adrien gaped at him, his eyes bugging out. Strangled sounds coming out of his mouth. Slowly, he staggered to the lawn chair, plopping down, unable to continue standing.
He breathed heavily, staring vacantly forwards.
"It's… it's not just my father who was like that. She… your mother too? It's… it's not just me."
Damian nodded. "Emotional manipulation. Pretending to be close to you, to only want what's best you… just to let you know how much you've disappointed them, how much better things would be if you obeyed them, tearing down everyone who's actually supported you, listened to you, CARED about you as a person. Framing any disagreement as foolish and childish, and anything that they do to you, or anything bad that happens to you as a result, as a natural consequence.
Even knowing what Mother was doing… it still hurt.
But she didn't just leave it at words.
The spine she gave me could be remotely controlled. She physically controlled my body, tried to make me kill my partner with my own hands. Afterwards, I HAD to confront her again."
Two Years Ago
"Take off that ridiculous costume. It's not normal."
Damian stared at her in disbelief. "You put machines in my spine! You turned me into a remote-controlled robot! What's normal about that?"
Talia stopped walking as they reached the end of the corridor, turning to face him.
"I tried to save you. I wanted to end this before it destroys you. And I wanted you to feel no guilt…"
From his perspective, SHE was the one he needed saving from. "Save me? Save me from what? Being Robin is the best thing I've ever done, Mother. And even if my Father DOES return, this is the life I've chosen to lead. I don't need you to save me."
"I see. I feared that's how you might react."
She sounded resigned. But… not like she'd given up entirely, exactly.
What was she plotting?
She pressed a button, opening a door. Damian followed after her. "Where are we going? What's the point of all this? There's nothing more to be said, Mother."
"I understand that now. I respect your decision. But there's something I'd like you to see."
A baby, floating in a red-lit orb of liquid.
His heart dropped.
An artificial womb, just like the one he'd been grown in.
Gently, Talia put her hand against the orb. "He's you. Another you, made from the same augmented DNA combinations. He'll be ten years younger than you when he's born."
He wasn't just… just some interchangeable object! Just because he wasn't what she wanted him to be. Just because he wouldn't follow the path she'd laid out for him.
She looked back at him, giving him a small smile, speaking in a gentle, loving tone. "Oh, Dami, not only was the Wayne fortune yours… but I would have given you the world as a birthday cake. What more can I do but offer you one last chance to accept your destiny, my darling?"
But it wasn't really his, was it?
It was hers.
Her desires. Her destiny. Dressed up to make it appear to be for his own sake. To make him seem like an ungrateful child for refusing.
"Can't you just love me for who I am? Not what you want me to be?"
She glared down at him, tall and imposing. Any motherly affection or care drained from her face.
"No. That's not my nature. I'm too much of a perfectionist.
I'll always love you in my own way. And I will permit you to leave with your circus boy in tow. But from now on, Damian, you are no longer welcome here. You may consider yourself an enemy of the House of Al Ghul."
He turned away for a moment. So that was it. He could ever earn her affection, so long as he had his own will, so long as he followed a path she had not deemed fit.
And if that was enough for her to deem him an enemy?
He looked back at her, resolve hardening his expression. "Very well. I hope I can be a worthy one, Mother."
Adrien stared at him. "You know it's not your fault, right? It's hers. A mother shouldn't- a PARENT shouldn't- they shouldn't hurt you and claim it's for your own sake, or- or replace you if you don't fit their 'standard' of following their every whim - especially when those whims hurt other people!"
Ha. He had no idea. "I did follow her though - for a long time. Until I turned ten. Before that, I followed the path she and my grandfather had laid out for me."
Adrien looked down for a moment. "Father mentioned how you felt like you were tainted. Had blood on your hands," he murmured to himself. "That you couldn't be forgiven."
Damian's throat tightened. Stiffly, he nodded. "I've done a lot of terrible things in the past. Goliath? That giant red Bat-dragon? I was sent to murder his entire family, as part of my efforts to prove myself to Mother and the rest of the League of Shadows. I slaughtered one after another, until he was the only one left."
Three Years Ago
"GUARD THE SCEPTER OF KINGS AT YOUR PERIL, BEAST! NEITHER MAN NOR BEHEMOTH SHALL IMPEDE THE AL GHULS AND THE YEAR OF BLOOD!"
He stabbed the blue beast with his sword as more, smaller beasts flew in, crying out, desperately trying to fight him off.
"A litter of vermin? You all dare to challenge me?
"I have traveled too far-"
"Delved too deep-"
"SLEPT too little-
"To suffer ANY MORE protests!"
Covered in the blood of the creatures he'd killed, he turned towards the latest arrival. "Ah, the littlest and the last. Let us end this as warriors our families wish us to be! What say you, coward?"
A small red bat-dragon, the size of a large house-cat, looked up at him with big, pitiful eyes. No malice. No fear. Just looking a little confused and like it wanted affection.
"FIGHT ME!" he bellowed, eyes wet, blood dripping from his sword.
It walked closer to him. He pointed his sword at it, barely able to see through the tears in his eyes. "No excuses, RUNT. Do not dishonor your family's cause! ALL of their hope now falls to YOU! FIGHT FOR THEM!"
He struck his fire trident against the ground, inches from where the small creature sat.
The creature slowly trotted over to where Damian crouched, leaned over-
And gently licked him on the nose.
Why would this creature forgive him?
He'd taken EVERYTHING from it- no, from him. Slaughtered the rest of the creature's family, like his own family had demanded.
And yet- and yet-
He turned away, tears falling from his eyes as he lowered his weapons and sunk to the ground. The little creature placed one of his paws on Damian's knee, as if trying to comfort him.
The creature stayed cuddled up against Damian as the light from the fire trident slowly dwindled and died, never showing the least bit of judgement or fear, just continuing to look at him with those wide eyes.
He still didn't understand why Goliath had forgiven him so easily. How he could have seen him raging and killing, and never struck back.
That… that was probably when he'd started liking animals.
They didn't know his past.
They didn't care what he'd done.
They didn't judge him.
They only knew what he showed of himself. He could have a truly blank slate with them.
And… and he hated seeing such creatures killed.
Even with people… well, that wasn't so far off either.
Grayson was the first person he'd really bonded with in his family. The first person to give him a chance, to see him as his own person, to not judge him as the weapon his mother's side of his family had tried to make him into. To look at him, and see him as being good enough.
To accept him.
He looked at Adrien, expecting to see disgust, fear, maybe even anger.
That's what he felt when looking back at that memory, after all.
At what he'd done.
But… that wasn't what he got.
He looked back at him with those accepting, compassionate, understanding eyes.
The same as Grayson's.
The same as Goliath's.
Slowly, Adrien stood up, leaned forwards.
And wrapped his arms around Damian.
"You were just a child," he murmured. "You ARE just a child. They should never- no parent should ever ask their child to DO something like that. And- and I'm proud of you. For standing up to her. I know what that's like. How hard it is. How much you want to prove yourself to them. And how afraid you are of doing something wrong.
You're a GOOD PERSON, Damian. You were just manipulated by someone who wasn't."
Slowly, Damian reached out and hugged him back.
And if some tears fell onto Adrien's shoulders… well, he doubted that Adrien would ever tell.
(He also must've said his actual name at some point during those flashbacks.)
(He'd deal with that later. He'd been thinking of inviting Adrien and Marinette for some training anyway. So at least he wouldn't have to justify blowing his secret identity to do so.)
Damian pulled away first.
That didn't surprise Adrien. He'd figured that Damian was the prickly sort; he sort of reminded him of Chloe that way. Somewhat conceited, rude, even outwardly mean, and really terrible at making friends… but with deeper reasons behind it all, if you looked.
And with what he'd been through… no wonder.
Looking down at the kid, he gave him his best comforting smile.
Damian might be a great fighter, a powerful ally, an experienced teammate… but he was still just a child. Seeing him like this, eyes rimmed red, trying to hold himself together, as if afraid to show that level of vulnerability for more than a few moments…
He had a pretty good idea how Damian felt when he punched Father. If Damian's mother had been in front of him right then, he'd punch her too.
At least his father had never tried to recruit him into his schemes. Had never tried to manipulate him into doing horrible things.
To force a young child to do such things? To live with those actions for the rest of his life?
To the extent that when he disobeyed, she tried to literally gain control over his body?
That akuma must've been hell for him. Someone else trying to force themselves into gaining control of him, all the while making it sound like the right thing to do?
No wonder Damian reacted the way he did. No wonder he was in so much pain and turmoil.
How was this kid even FUNCTIONING?
Drying his eyes surreptitiously, Damian took off his gloves. He gave them a long look, then handed them over to Adrien.
"Your fighting display when untransformed was pathetic, compared to what it COULD be. And without a weapon, you'd be dead meat. These may not be the kind of weapons you're used to, but you can wear them openly without suspicion."
Then, these were the pair that…
Carefully, Adrien slid the gloves on, willing the claws to extend.
They popped out, just like he'd imagined when he was 10 and had just watched the X-men movies.
"Be careful not to put your eyes out with those."
Adrien was too busy admiring the claws to give his warning much thought.
This… he'd always wanted claws. Something to defend himself with, as a warning. Something he could slash with, breaking any bond. To ensure he could protect himself, both from others, and from being trapped.
Chat Noir had given him those.
And now Adrien had access to them too.
Turning, he gave Damian the warmest, most glowing smile he could muster. "Thank you."
Damian seemed stunned for a moment, then gave him a tiny smile in return, so fleeting he almost fooled himself into thinking it hadn't been there at all. "Just make good use of them. I don't give them out often. Or ever."
Like he WOULDN'T make good use of Wolverine gloves. "I will."
Damian turned to leave, but as he was raising his grappling gun, he turned back towards Adrien. "Oh, and before I forget -"
He tossed two devices to Adrien.
"Those are communication devices, in case I need to get in contact with you or Marinette," Damian clarified, reading the confusion on his face. "I have a feeling I'll be in touch sooner rather than later."
"Hey… anytime you want to talk, Damian? Just call me. Even if it's not about superhero stuff. Just to talk."
Damian blinked, looking taken aback. Then nodded.
He shot his grappling gun, swinging away into the night.
Adrien stared after him, straining his eyes to follow his small form in the darkness.
Both of them had been molded and shaped by their parents.
But neither had submitted.
They had both made it through their parents' abuse, scarred and with emotional baggage a mile high.
But they were both still here.
And still themselves, despite their parents' best efforts.
It would take a long time, and wouldn't be without strife or difficulty.
But maybe, just maybe… so long as they both had people they cared for, who cared about them.
They'd be okay.
(A/N) So that's the end - for now at least. I do have some more ideas for this universe, from exploring the consequences of Hawkmoth's defeat, to some increased involvement between the DCU and ML. Dunno when, or for sure if, I'll explore that though. I really wanted to familiarize my ML readers ('cause I'm betting that's most of the people reading this) with some of Damian's backstory. He's had a CRAPTASTIC life, and has suffered through some similar emotional abuse to what Adrien's been through. Those flashbacks Damian had? Those are straight from the comics. (Well, the dialogue is anyway. Damian's thoughts were things I'd inferred.) The flashbacks involving Damian's spine replacement came from "Batman & Robin Vol. 2: Batman vs. Robin". The Goliath flashback came from "Robin: Son of Batman Vol. 1: Year of Blood". (I'd give the exact issue numbers, but I have the trades, not the individual comics, and I don't feel like trying to figure out the exact issues those flashbacks came from.) The explanation for why Damian loves animals so much is a headcanon I came up with. The kid has some pretty deep-seated guilt and fear over what he's done and what he might become, along with a desperate need for acceptance and fear of abandonment. I totally understand why he gravitates to animals; he generally doesn't have to worry about any of that with them. Adrien's accepting, understanding, fairly non-judgmental nature and overall compassion would be a breath of fresh air for Damian I think, with Adrien fulfilling a similar sort of role to Dick - someone Damian can count on to listen to him, to see him as a person, not a weapon, who won't write him off, but instead talk with him and try to understand why he does what he does, instead of just yelling at him. To try to see things from his point of view. Seriously, these two would be GREAT friends. Also, Adrien needs to meet Bat-cow. It has to happen.