Title: Turdus Migratorius
Disclaimer: DC writers abuse them more than me and get paid for it. I do it for fun.
Summary: Damian has long proven himself worthy of the mantle. He just doesn't know what it means.
"Why were you Robin?" Arms crossed, Damian stood in full Robin gear beside the console demanding his presence be acknowledged. Gotham had been relatively quiet for the night and his body still hummed with unspent energy.
"I thought you were the family historian." Grayson swiveled his chair and smirked. Predictably, he had removed the cape and cowl the instant they had returned to the bunker. Damian had noticed his Batman never wore it in the cave or the bunker unless someone had called a formal meeting. Even then Grayson twitched in an unnatural way when wearing the cowl and not on patrol.
"No, why were you named Robin." Damian was annoyed just having to clarify the question. "You said before Father warned you about the perils to your abilities if a hood were to become a blindfold. Hence the theory Robin is short for Robin Hood. But you are not an archer. If anything, Harper should've been Robin, West should've been Speedy, and you should've been Batboy."
Grayson had the nerve to owlishly blink at him. "You want to be named Batboy?"
"No." Though the thought of Brown having been Batboy was amusing. She had the chest for it.
"Is this about me sending you to work with the Teen Titans? Because I thought we resolved that." His father surely had not wasted so much time on someone so thick. Grayson wasn't even trying to answer the question. Pennyworth had been wrong about the usefulness of communication to resolve problems.
-TT- "As if I'd waste my time because of their childish antics." Damian pounded his fist against the R on his chest. "I am the fifth Robin, First Lieutenant to Batman. I have proven the title has finally passed down to worthy hands."
"But you've just realized you don't know what the title means." Somehow Grayson had managed to take control of the conversation through his blithering. Damian hadn't learned how to prevent such tactics but he did have a strategy for forcibly returning control.
"It means I'm next in line to carry out my Father's legacy. But robins do not naturally associate with bats. When choosing a name you should've chosen something more sensible." Damian had once seen a look from the female Gordon set Grayson to pacing on his hands. While his own expression wasn't developed enough for that reaction, it still had the desired affect.
"Robin is-was me." The statement didn't fit the brash, overconfident youth Grayson had made famous. Instead, he made it sound like a confession.
"Bruce gave me the freedom to design my own costume and persona. Trust me, I went through all the bat related names. I drew a hundred costumes." Ungloved hands swept out in an encompassing gesture. At first Damien believed Grayson was exaggerating his work but the man's eyes kept locking onto particular points. Grayson was seeing his designs where they once hung.
The bunker's equipment was different than the cave's, but Damian could tell his father had allowed Grayson to tape his childish costume scrawls on the computer, the evidence board, the lockers, and Damian could only guess where else. His father had not treated his true son's functional schematics with such reverence. Growing up with promises of ruling the world, Damian was unaccustomed to the flare of envy in the pit of his stomach.
"I wasn't thinking of creating a legacy; it was our adventure. Bruce and I against the world - with Alfred's help obviously."
Grayson remained oblivious but would notice Damian's discomfort quickly.
Robin chose the easiest distraction. "Hence why you ended up in short pants and pixie boots."
"I'll have you know my costume was ageless." His grin for such a ridiculous costume should not have been so honest. The man's fashion sense was hopeless and too long indulged. "But if that's the way you feel, you should be nicer to Tim for setting a precedent of change."
"I give Drake more than his due." Damian scowled at his own weakness. "Now you will desist from more diversionary tactics and answer my question."
"A robin is considered a symbol of spring." At the pause Damian waited silently knowing Grayson would finally answer. "Mom called me her little Robin because I was born on the first day of spring."
As if naming their child Dick wasn't enough of a mark against the Graysons' intelligence. "So you chose to align your mother's memory into Father's war."
"There was no war." His father had used the same wistful tone when discussing the so called golden days. "I wasn't using the name as a burden. Robin was Dick Grayson and Dick Grayson was Robin. I didn't differentiate who I was based on what I was wearing."
Grayson would look at the world in such simple terms but he hadn't clarified everything. "Then why did Todd appropriate the name? No one could've been fooled into thinking he was you."
Grayson's chuckle was mirthless. "Now that is a Arkham sized problem. If I had known that a lot less thugs would've spent the night in emergency care back then."
Damian didn't know how he endured such dithering from his supposed family. "You are a coward. If you will not confront Father I will."
"Damian, I've made my peace with it. I've made my peace with him." Grayson's features were calm. Damian could almost believe him. "Like you said, Robin became the second part to 'Batman and'. I willingly handed on the title to Jason, Tim, and you."
"And the female?"
"That was a bad time but-" Grayson's eyes dropped and he bit his lip in an unseemly manner.
Knowing he would not get anything else about Brown's time as Robin, Damian made a mental note to access those files. "Was Nightwing also a name from your mother?"
"No, I think the Kryptonians have reappropriated their name." Really, Grayson was too casual with alien outsiders.
"My father took your name from you, then you took his which you now share."
"Well, I'm Jolly Batman." Grayson actually smiled widely to emphasize the name. "Your version is over simplified and missing a few steps, but essentially yes."
"And your mother, she loved you?"
"Unconditionally." His smile became genuine. "Both my parents did."
Damian put the facts into order and came to only one conclusion. "I find your previous situation unacceptable."
"Oh?" Grayson straightened in his chair and lifted an eyebrow.
"Those pretenders should not have used the name Robin with Father. Now that I am your partner the name Robin is appropriate. However, when I assume the mantle of Batman I will return the mantle of Robin to you."
Digging his fingers into the arm chair, Grayson began to blink rapidly. Afraid the man was going to tear up because of him, Damian needed to defuse the situation. "However, you will refrain from wearing short pants."
Damian took a step back when Grayson stood up. "You will refrain from hugging me." Grayson hugged as if wrapping his arms around someone truly could solve all problems. While the idea was ludicrous and naive, the strength of Grayson's belief forced Damian to monitor all potential hugging situations least he be swept away by the other man.
The hair ruffle Damian received was not much better. Grayson's hands straightened then settled on the black hood atop the yellow cape. "Thanks, Damian. But I'm past my Robin days. Someday your Batman might need a Robin and he or she will need the name more than I do."
"I will not be so flawed as to need a partner." He tolerated Grayson's presence. Especially after his father's rejection, Damian had no desire to tutor another partner to his requirements.
"Then how will you pass on your legacy? I know you won't rely on corporate for the next Batman."
"I will not need to pass on the legacy."
Head cocked to the side, Grayson studied him with steady blue eyes. Damian caught an unreadable expression on the man's face before Grayson knelt down and crushed him to his chest.
Damian stiffened. Grayson probably thought that his declaration was the rambling of a ten year old boy - a promise of forever that Grayson likely made himself at that age. But Damian had a plan for himself and for Gotham so he could achieve what his father had not. The fact that Grayson could be so close to him but so willfully blind and unable to read the clues meant the man was vulnerable. If Grayson did suspect, the man's countermeasures were limited to a hug which spoke of his emotional immaturity.
Still, working with another Batman was unacceptable and Damian had come to terms with the fact he was not yet tall enough for the role himself. He would be soon. Someone would have to ensure Grayson's physical and mental wellbeing until then. So when Damian briefly hugged back, he told himself he was merely protecting his current investment until he returned the Robin mantle to its rightful owner.