"Knight Fall, Knight Rise"

Disclaimer: Batman is created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger and is licensed to DC Comics and Warner Brothers. Related characters also belong to DC Comics and Warner Brothers.

Author's note: I know Batman #666 is already the story that shows us what Damien Wayne would be like as Batman, but I would like to submit my take on Damien-Bats. First, I am going to show just how he became Batman and how that affected him. Second, I'm going to give him a different costume than Andy Kubert gave him, something darker than the knockoff of Bruce Wayne's costume that he wears in #666. The first is more important than the latter and includes a romance with Nightstar (the daughter of Dick Grayson and Starfire) a la his counterpart in the Kingdom Come universe. Anyway, here goes nothing.

The double funeral was a private affair, only accessible to the closest friends and family of the deceased. There was silence, punctuated by quiet sobs, some coming from Mar'i Grayson. She had every right to her tears; one of the deceased was her father and the other was her uncle. Beside her, Roy Harper had pulled her and his daughter Lian into a comforting embrace. Donna Troy was there, doing her best to comfort her younger "sister" Cassie Sandsmark. Wally West and his family were there as well, along with Clark Kent and his family, including one Kara Zor-El.

So many of Dick Grayson's and Tim Drake's friends were there to mourn their passing that Damien Wayne thought he would lose count. It didn't matter how many people there were; he was spiritually alone. His trained senses picked up a few unsanctioned visitors to the funeral, one being a certain other disgraced son of Bruce Wayne and another being Slade Wilson. He didn't begrudge their presence; Jason had been a friend, a mentor, a brother when he needed one and Dick and Tim, in their own ways, were almost as dear to Slade as his own biological children had been. He just hoped they would be respectful or smart enough to keep their presences hidden; for once, he didn't want a fight.

After the funeral was over and the guests had dispersed, all that was left was Damien, Mar'i, and the two intruders. Damien idly wondered which one would be the first to make their presence known. He didn't have to wonder for long, as Slade finally made himself visible.

"Terminator," Damien whispered.

"Wayne," Slade answered. He turned to Mar'i. "Grayson."

"Slade," Mar'i hissed slowly.

"The way you say my name . . . it reminds me of how your father used to say it," Slade remarked. "His death was a tragedy."

"What do you care?" Mar'i asked.

"I care because I respected him," Slade replied. "Him and his successors, even if some did not do his former mantle the honor it deserved."

Damien glared at Slade. He knew what the much older man meant by the last part of that statement.

"What will you do now?" Slade asked. "Your fathers left much to be handled in their permanent absence from this world and it would be a heavy load even for someone as resourceful as you two."

"We'll handle ourselves," Mar'i spat. "We don't need you."

"Are you sure, Grayson?" Slade purred, a dangerous light entering his eye.

Mar'i looked into his eye coldly. "Dead sure."

"As you wish. But remember, I am always available should you decide that you actually want my assistance." With that, Slade disappeared into the scenery.

"Relax, Mar'i," Damien said.

"He did have one point," Jason said, materializing himself. "Damien, your 18th birthday isn't for another three months. Mar'i, you're not even 16 yet. If the both of you decide you're going to take on running Wayne Enterprises, you're gonna have to deal with a bunch of old pricks who'll try to shut you out as much as possible because they think you're too young. Plus, some of those bastards aren't the most scrupulous motherfuckers in the boardroom and they're probably thinking that Golden Boy and Littlest Wing biting it means they can have a freer hand with some of the shadier shit they wanna do."

"Doesn't matter," Mar'i answered. "We're not going to Slade, of all people, for anything. It'll be like making a deal with the devil."

"Don't get melodramatic," Jason grumbled.

Mar'i glared. "You're not the one he cobbled together a vicious team of 'Reverse-Titans' to murder."

"Nonetheless, he was right on one thing," Damien said. "We need to plan our next move. The people who did this to your father and Tim are still out there. They need to pay."

"We're not going to execute them," Mar'i asserted. "Do you hear me, Damien? No killing."

Damien's lip curled in silent wrath. "As you wish."

"Just one other problem."

"What, Jason?" Damien asked.

"This city still needs a Batman," Jason replied. "The creeps in this town figure out Batman's gone for good and there'll be chaos. Chaos of the murdering, raping, thieving kind. Whether the cops in this shithole will admit it or not, it was Batman's presence that kept it from going completely out of whack."

"Then Batman will be back," Damien said. "But he'll need time, and preparation. I'll deal with the preparation; you and Mar'i give me the time."

Jason and Mar'i looked at Damien askance. "You sure?" Jason asked.

"I'm sure," Damien answered resolutely.

Weeks passed, weeks filled with strenuous physical training. Damien trained with and against Cassandra Cain. After all, who better to improve his fighting skills than the woman who could have beaten his father even when she was a teenage girl? Plus, there was the matter of their commonality; Damien had been raised and bred as the warrior-prince of his mother's League of Assassins while Cassandra had been trained from birth to be his grandfather's chief bodyguard and assassin.

From one child of assassins to another, he thought as he was beaten down once again. He quickly forced himself back onto his feet and resumed the fight. He had trained against a simulation of Cassandra, but the simulation did not hit nearly as hard or as fast as the real deal did.

Cassandra was an unrelentingly focused instructor, and in the time he trained with her, he learned how to intuit her next moves based on her body language. It was nowhere near as perfectly developed and honed as Cass's ability, but it was useful for keeping him alive so far. It helped him dodge or block some, but not all or even many, of her attacks and return with blows of his own.

One night, Jason and Mar'i – otherwise known as Red Hood and Nightstar – were fighting the Jokerz gang, led by a girl in purple leather and bleached skin calling herself J-Girl. Jason and Mar'i were gifted fighters, and Mar'i had her alien strength and speed, but they were surrounded. On this occasion, every Jokerz faction had come together to completely obliterate what remained of Batman's legacy. Granted, Mar'i had her starbolts, too, but the level at which she would have to use them in order to defeat them would be lethal . . . and she wasn't going to kill.

It didn't seem that Jason was willing to die for the sake of a "silly" ideal exemplified by the no-kill rule Batman and his cadre had stuck to for so long; flashes of metal marked where his kris cut the air before finding its home in flesh. If Mar'i had time to notice that Jason was slashing and stabbing the Jokerz in his path, she could not comment. She punched one Joker in the stomach, a burst of purple energy from her fist sending him flying. She sincerely hoped that she hadn't just killed him.

While Mar'i fought a particular Joker, this one styled like a twisted court jester, he smiled cruelly at her. "Batman died screaming like a little pussy."

A little girl might have cried from hearing something like that. Mar'i was by no means little, nor was she helpless. She drew back her fist and punched the Joker square in the face, sending him flying with a bloody and broken nose.

"Who died screaming like a little pussy?" a cold voice asked.

Everyone present looked up to see a dark figure with cape spread out like the wings of a dark angel descend upon the scene. The figure landed on its feet and stood, revealing that it was indeed male and clad in black from head to toe. Black armor adorned his shoulders, seemingly connecting to a scalloped metal wing symbol that acted to secure a scalloped black cape with red lining to his shoulders. The wing symbol was black with red edges and his entire head and face were covered by a black mask with blacked-out lenses. Pointy ears curved up from the sides of the mask, pointing about three or four inches high. Three sharp scallops protruded from the gloves' bracers, a black belt with gray pouches and a circular buckle wrapped around his middle, and scalloped silver boot cuffs wrapped around his calves.

"B-b-batman!" a Joker cried out, horrified.

"We killed you!" another Joker screamed. "We fuckin' killed you! How the fuck are you here?!"

J-Girl just laughed. "Because, dolt, this isn't the Batman we killed."

"What are you saying?" the screaming Joker asked. "He from another universe or the future or something?!"

J-Girl scoffed. "No, we just didn't finish the job properly last time and now another idiot has taken up the mantle."

Batman, if that indeed was who he was, flicked his wrist and a thin black object roughly the size of or slightly larger than a nail clipper but shaped like the torso, tail, and head of a bat popped out. Sharp wing-like protrusions popped out of the object a second later. It was a Batarang, redesigned from greater aerodynamic quality and cleaner cuts.

He threw the new Batarang at a small gaggle of Jokerz, who screamed in pain as they were slashed by the passing object. The Batarang continued to travel, cutting all in its path, until it returned to Batman's hand. The crowd of Jokerz began to disperse, losing their confidence now that they had seen Batman (whoever he was) take out a not-inconsiderable number of their forces.

"Running?" Batman asked. "Shame, though; I'm not done with you yet."

The bloodlust was clearly evident in his tone; this Batman was in a mood to do damage. He popped another Batarang from his opposite wrist and threw it into the midst of the Jokerz, this one exploding. Screams of agony followed as the explosion sent Jokerz flying everywhere, sometimes not necessarily with all their pieces attached.

Batman lunged into the chaos, viciously beating the clown-styled marauders. Gauntlet scallops found their purchase in vulnerable eyes or tore pregnable flesh. Gloved fists with retractable spikes – one for each knuckle – in the backs of the hands slammed into stomachs or connected with chins in brutal uppercuts. The Jokerz might have been many, but like almost all criminals, they were a superstitious and cowardly lot and the "return" of Batman had convinced them that he was a vengeful revenant come from the grave to destroy them all. That belief was psychologically crippling enough that not many could put up a good fight against him.

"Shit," Jason uttered. "He's about as bad as I used to be."

"He's . . ." Mar'i couldn't even speak, so deep her horror was at what this Batman was doing.

J-Girl watched with a gleeful grin as Batman pummeled her soldiers. Granted, they were her soldiers and it wasn't good for some punk vigilante to be beating the crap out of them, but the unchained ferocity of his actions was . . . quite honestly, a turn-on. She felt something familiar about him, about the way he moved and fought, only it seemed simultaneously more refined and more savage. Unfortunately, the fun she was having watching him was spoiled.

Nightstar flew to Batman and caught him in a full nelson, halting his rampage. "Stop it . . . Damien." The last part was said in a low whisper, so his identity wasn't betrayed to the Jokerz.

"They're murderers," Batman snarled. "They deserve it."

"But look what happened the last time you killed out of vengeance," Nightstar hissed. She cupped Batman's chin and forced him to look at the Jokerz he had just dispatched. "They were the result. Do you want something even worse to come out of killing them? Because it will come. It will. That's just how vengeance works; it never finishes because the person you wronged in return for the wrong they dealt to you will have someone to take up their cause if they cannot do it themselves."

"Let me go," Batman growled. "I'm going to finish them."

"And what happens if you do that? Are they going to stop? And if they don't, where will you stop? Where will you decide that you've had enough?"

"Let go!!" Batman roared, his voice filled with indescribable agony.

"I won't," Nightstar whispered. "Because I can't let you do this to yourself. Because I love you too much to allow you to do this to yourself."

That confession startled Batman enough that he became completely still. He hadn't been doing much moving, anyway, knowing he did not have nearly what it took to meet Nightstar's strength, not even with the enhancements his suit afforded. The thing he hadn't known . . . was the depth of her emotions where he was concerned. Someone loved him – him, the Demon-spawn, the bastard squire.

"Aw, how sweet," J-Girl remarked. "Are you two done with your little lovefest? Because I just got myself another Bat to fry."

Nightstar released Batman, hands smoking with purple energy. Batman flicked his wrists, a Batarang popping out of each gauntlet, while Red Hood held his kris at the ready.

"Three little Bats," J-Girl purred. She looked at Batman. "I wonder who you are. Oh, I know! You must be the cute little Robin!"

His patience at an end, Batman threw both Batarangs at J-Girl, who almost literally danced out of their way. One of the Batarangs exploded behind her, the shockwaves sending her flying forward, but she turned it into a lithe spring, kicking Batman in the stomach. Unfortunately for her, the armor repelled her, knocking her to the ground.

"Neat trick," she remarked. "Where do you get all those awesome toys? You some kind of crazy zillionaire?"

"You're hardly one to be talking about 'crazy,'" Batman sneered.

"Oh, well." J-Girl shrugged. "You're no fun now. I'm leaving."

Batman growled. "No, you aren't."

J-Girl laughed wildly. "You gonna stop me, Batboy?"

"We are," Nightstar answered for him.

"Try it."

The fight was three on one, with two of the three being two of the most skilled human fighters on the planet and the remaining one being among the most skilled superhuman fighters on the planet. They should not have had to struggle as much as they did, but the one they were fighting against was competent at close-quarters combat, a competence boosted by sheer psychotic unpredictability. The tricks she pulled out would have been insane for a normal fighter, but she was not quite sane, so it worked out just fine for her. Even with his newfound body reading ability, he had a hard time predicting her moves.

Finally, Nightstar scored what she figured to be a decisive blow, the combination of her physical power and her starbolt energy knocking J-Girl down for the count. "What do we do with her?"

"We could always kill her," Red Hood suggested mordantly. "That'd save us the trouble of seeing her break out of Blackgate and go on another killing spree."

"We could do that. . . ." Batman agreed, glaring down at J-Girl's unconscious self. "But what would that do, in the end? I killed the Joker. The Jokerz were born from his ashes. I kill her, what will be born from her remains?"

Mid-afternoon in Wayne Enterprises was busy, particularly in the boardroom. With two of Bruce Wayne's heirs dead, there was much to be decided about how the company would be run from now on, at least until Damien Wayne turned 18. There was an interim CEO, filling in for the deceased Tim Drake, but everyone was particularly anxious about their futures once he took over.

Speaking of the boardroom, the interim CEO – one Curtis Earle – was just entering it, only to find a surprising sight. That sight was Damien Wayne and Mar'i Grayson, both dressed in tailored business suits and looking as though they'd been waiting for him.

"Mr. Wayne, Ms. Grayson, what brings you here?" Earle asked.

"Glad you asked," Damien replied. "We'll cut right to the chase. During your short time as interim CEO, you began talks with the leadership of Powers Technology. Were you intending to merge the companies and give Derek Powers control over the resulting conglomerate?" He held up a hand. "No, don't answer that, we already know."

"Mr. Wayne, you have to understand, I only wanted what would be good for –" Earle began to speak, but Mar'i cut him off.

"Mr. Earle, Derek Powers is – to put it bluntly – a slimy, unscrupulous piece of shit. He's been under investigation multiple times for unethical product testing methods and yet nothing has stuck, like he's the Teflon Don of the corporate world. I don't know about you, but I don't want such a man having anything to do with the company my father and uncle and the man they called father worked so hard to build and preserve."

"In other words . . ." Damien smiled with grim, mirthless satisfaction. "You're out."

"How can you . . . ?" Mr. Earle started to ask.

"Because we control the company now," Damien replied. "We've bought enough shares to have a controlling interest in Wayne Enterprises and all its holdings."

"So . . . go," Mar'i added, a smile forming on her lovely face at the stricken expression on Earle's face.

That night, Damien sat in the Batcave, staring into the computer screen. There was so much to do he didn't even know where to begin. Then there was the matter of control over Wayne Enterprises; Slade had been the one to buy the controlling shares of the company, only to yield them all to Damien in what the mercenary probably thought was a gesture of generosity. The Knight of Tomorrow did not necessarily want to know what Slade was thinking or expecting in doing what he had, but he had the feeling that he would find out sooner or later.

Sighing to himself, he finally stood up, ready to begin. Just as he began to slip the mask over his face, completing the Bat-armor he currently wore, he felt the faint sensation of air molecules parting as Mar'i glided toward him. "Nightstar," he greeted, slipping into his Batman voice.

"Damien," Nightstar answered. Damien didn't even turn in his chair to regard her, so she turned his chair around, forcing him to face her. When he did, he saw that she was wearing a dark purple silk robe, one that stopped at mid-thigh and was cinched in a way that left her cleavage slightly exposed.

"What do you want?" Damien asked.

"You can't bury it forever," Mar'i replied.

"Bury what?" Damien asked.

"You feel responsible for my dad and Uncle Tim dying, don't you?" Mar'i deduced.

"I should have been there." Damien's eyes were hooded with pain. "Maybe if I had, they would still be alive."

"Or all three of you would be dead," Mar'i retorted. "Ever think about that?"

Damien paused, not speaking for what seemed like an eternity. When his lips finally did part to speak, they were sealed by a kiss from Mar'i. Damien froze in his chair, not sure of how he should respond. This was an experience that was entirely new to him, one he had never been adequately prepared for. As the kiss continued, though, he felt some primal instinct swelling up inside him, an instinct that demanded that he claim what Mar'i was offering him.

Deciding that he was better off listening to those instincts instead of repressing them like he'd learned how to do, Damien pulled Mar'i onto his lap, returning the kiss passionately. His arousal was painfully restrained by his armor, but Mar'i was already beginning to work it off him, her agile fingers finding and releasing the catches. Piece by piece, his armor fell away, until he was left exposed to her.

To Damien, turnabout was fair play, so he reached for the belt of Mar'i's robe, untying it and parting the robe itself to expose her luscious golden curves. She fell onto him, taking him into her moist depths and ending her maidenhood. Her hands gently but firmly gripped his shoulders, as he looked into her eyes. He did not say "I love you," but then . . . he didn't need to. His very touch, the look in his eyes, said it for him.

End Notes: Ok, so I included a little sex at the end. It's not very explicit, so I don't think is going to get too angry at me for it. Of course, there're always the other sites I post fic to, and I better start updating there, too. Anyway, I wanted to do my take on Damien becoming Batman, and maybe this will lead to a series of Damien-as-Batman fics (written by me, of course).

I know a lot of people don't like Damien very much, either because of his attitude or because they don't believe that Batman should ever have a child that is biologically his. The way I see it, Damien has a terribly high amount of potential, given his upbringing and his possible future (as depicted in Batman #666). An older version of him, either teenaged or adult, could be written as a tragic hero of sorts, wanting to be a part of the Batman legacy yet seen as an unworthy outsider-slash-pretender.

Why bring Mar'i Grayson into this, and who is she, anyway? In the Elseworlds limited series Kingdom Come, Mar'i Grayson is Nightstar, the daughter of Dick Grayson with Starfire, his teammate and lover during the Titans comic book series published in the 1980s to early 1990s. In Kingdom Come, Nightstar becomes romantically involved with Batman's biological son Ibn al Xu'ffasch, who is basically another version of Damien due to them sharing the same parentage. I wanted to pay homage to that relationship by putting Damien and Mar'i together here, and besides, Helena Kyle would be too young for him at this juncture.

Anyway, it's been fun. Slip me some feedback and let me know what you think, good or bad.