Washed in the Blood of the Lamb
The lights bored into his eyes as he came to on the cold cement ground. He pushed himself up and knew he shouldn't force himself to his feet right away. The pain was everywhere and all consuming. Anger was the only other sensation he felt. Jason…
He looked up and saw his partner in the corner in a puddle of blood. He crawled towards him. They were alone now….
Jason pulled the trigger but he was out of ammunition. He laughed as he pulled the gun back and reloaded it. Dick looked up into his masked face and felt his body tense and drain of all feeling. Dick had just managed to get free from the wires and flexed his shoulders to disentangle them. Jason latched a hold of him and tore at Batman's face. Half of Dick's mask was ripped away. One exposed, cold blue eye and a shock of black hair was what filled Jason's vision as he shoved the older man back and aimed his gun.
With this one shot Jason would destroy both Batman and Robin. Batman would be dead and Robin…retired.
"Two birds, one stone. Or two flying things at least." He cocked his head to the side and got to his feet. He stepped back and hesitated about his aim before pulling the trigger.
The bullet caught Dick in the collarbone, just missing his throat. He was silent, mouth falling open as he fell onto his side and began to bleed out. Jason pulled a cell phone from his jacket and hit the call button to redial.
"He has to make a choice, Barbara. He has to." And Jason hung up, knowing he had stayed on long enough for her to track his position and her equipment was now up and running as usual.Currently…
Damian felt a sickening feeling crawl up his back as he positioned himself beside Dick and propped his body against the crates. He pulled at Dick's cape and pulled him close. He gave Dick's cape a quick tug and he fell into his lap. Damian stared down into his partially masked face and felt something like grief and sadness overcome his soul. Dick's blood stained his hands and the floor. It was everywhere.
God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son… Damian heard the words Jason had ground out before leaving.
He looked down into Dick's face. The question was who was Bruce's begotten son? Sure he was his biological son but Dick was….a Wayne in every other way that mattered.
A movement in the shadows alerted him to a new presence. One booted foot stepped out from the night and Damian looked up to face the man he knew it would be.
"Dick." Bruce was beside them and picking Dick up in one fluid movement.
Damian would have been put off or offended by Bruce Wayne's obvious act of adoration if he didn't feel the same. If he hadn't put Dick in Bruce's place a long time ago. Richard Grayson may not be The Batman, Robin, or even Nightwing anymore but he was more than a cape and black mask! He tried to force the doubt he felt about his father away and think clearly. However Bruce felt about Damian didn't matter compared to how Dick was doing at the moment.
"He left a message." Damian stood and followed his father out to another one of the various Bat-vehicles, a small black jet.
"Yes, I know. He left it with Oracle."
"But he also left one with me when he left. It was on Di-Batman's lap. I knew it was for me because he had to have known Batman wouldn't be taking any for you." Damian growled, resentful of his father in more ways than ever before.
"And?" Bruce shot back quickly, feeling he shouldn't have to ask. He thought he should just be told as he placed Dick in the passenger's seat in the jet as the door opened.
"He wants you to choose." Damian muttered as he crawled in the backseat, mindful of Dick's head as he swung his leg in.
"He said as much to Oracle."
"But he gave a time limit. You have until dawn. You save Grayson and choose him as your predecessor or you choose me and become the Batman of Gotham again…"
"I don't have to choose."
"I want you to choose me." Damian answered as he stared out the window.
Bruce was taken off guard, which was not something that happened often. He looked at his youngest and tried to follow the boy's train of thought, filter his emotions.
Damian understood Jason's mentality, which he wasn't certain what that said about him. Maybe they could be kindred spirits due to Talia Al Ghul's influence. Was it just that they were both sons that came directly after "perfection." Jason was Dick's predecessor and Damian was Tim's.
Either way Dick had dealt with Jason's craziness enough. Grayson was talented and skilled but too kind. He would be killed if he allowed this to continue. If Bruce chose Damian he also chose Dick. Dick would be safe and Damian could handle Jason as he saw fit.
"He wants to know who is most important to you. I want you to choose as much as he does. I want you to listen to me and do what is necessary so this does not happen again, Father. Dick will be willing to forgive but I am not. I want you to choose to kill Jason Todd." Damian spoke firmly as he gripped the back of the driver's seat.
Bruce said nothing as he drove them back to the "Batcave" Dick had chosen for the new Batman and Robin. He carried Dick into the house and had Damian make quick calls to both Dr. Leslie Thompkins and Alfred. Damian refused to leave even as Alfred and Leslie started to work on Dick.
They cut his costume off and hooked him up to various machines that Damian knew but couldn't quite remember what the names were. He watched them dig the bullet out and bandage his cuts. Dick was an experienced leader, fighter, athlete, cop, etc. He had been raised as an acrobat and then grew into a vigilante from his intensive training from the age of nine until now. He still trained to enhance his skills. How had he been taken out by one bullet?
Damian had suffered three bullet wounds this night but they had been clean shots and easily amendable once they had returned and Alfred got to him. It was most likely shock that kept Damian awake and with Dick now and not in bed resting.
"Todd." Damian breathed in a rush of fury. He was sitting on the metal dressing table beside Dick and watched him "sleep." Dick wasn't dead but he wasn't really here either. Not yet.
Damian jumped down and stormed out of the cave to find his father poring over a computer screen with camera footage. Oracle's electronic image was in the corner of the monitor and relaying details.
"He had planned for you to show up and watch one of them die…set it up that you only had the choice to pick one. Sound familiar?" Barbara questioned.
"Dick's first major confrontation with Two-Face." Bruce sighed.
"Yes, he's been keeping interesting company again. This time he was knocking off big wig Batman villains from your Rogue Gallery. He's picking up their tricks too. Using the 'see how they like it' method I guess." The image flickered and Barbara's face came into view.
"Yes…his Better Batman campaign seems to be going as he planned."
"He wanted a good Batman either way. He either wanted Dick to watch Damian die and become hard and cold like y-how he thinks he should be or have you choose between them and force you to become…." She let her voice trail off.
"More willing to kill." Bruce filled in.
Damian came to the doorway and looked in on his father and Oracle/Barbara talking. Damian walked over to him and slammed the laptop shut.
"He must DIE!" He roared as he stared into his father's eyes, so much like his own.
"Damian." Bruce warned.
"NO! How is Batman suppose to succeed against evil when his former ally is who attempts to condemn him?" Damian backed away from Bruce as he stood and tried to touch his shoulder.
"Batman and Robin stand for something and Red Hood tarnishes that! He blathered on about you being God and SHOT GRAYSON!" Damian glared up at his father, feeling nothing of the intimidation most felt under Bruce's tutelage.
"Yes, Damian, Batman does stand for something and killing isn't it. You can't stand for something while-"
"…while simultaneously tearing it down." Damian finished, having heard Dick relay that message earlier.
"You understand yet you ask me to murder a man?" Bruce looked on his son as if to challenge him.
"There are exceptions to every rule. Extenuating circumstances. This is for the greater good." Damian spat back.
"No. Never with this." Damian sounds like Talia….like Ra's.
"So you allow him to live so he can do this again?" Damian stepped up to his father and stared up into his face.
"No, I won't allow it."
"But you won't guarantee it won't happen."
Damian didn't even wait for his father's rebuttal. He simply stormed off back to Grayson to stay the night. Someone had to protect him. Dick was his partner. Dick did whatever it took to protect Damian. He had done everything! He had taken Jason on to avoid Damian being killed. Damian knew that and he would repay the favor.Moments later…
"Alfred?" Bruce asked from his spot in front of his computer in the Batcave.
"Sir….its young Master Damian…he's….gone." Alfred spoke in distress as he came to his master's side.
"When did you notice he was missing?"
"Moments ago sir. He couldn't have gone far." Alfred tried to comfort.
"No….but he didn't have to." Bruce looked up into his giant computer screen. The Oracle logo stared back at him as he replayed the information Barbara had given him earlier. Before Damian's interruption.
Damian hadn't relayed the entire message that Jason had left him. He hadn't given Bruce the location of where Jason would be for them to meet. Oracle had used her systems to track him. He was still using the same cell phone as he had earlier. He probably wanted them to track him. Jason always wanted focus on him so that he could get a point across.
"Well, hiya champ. Gotta say I wasn't expecting you here." Jason greeted as he spotted Damian walking towards him. Jason was without his Hood mask as he stood over his own grave.
They were at the cemetery and it was nearly dawn. Jason let his hand sit on his hip near his gun as he watched Damian pull batarangs from his belt.
"I presume you know of God's wrath?" Damian grinned darkly.
"Yeah, that a woman scorned is worse?" Jason replied.
"No, that certain sins draw him to rage faster than others. One is murder, which you indulge in. One is not honoring thy father, which you don't seem to understand, and another is not to covet."
"Surprise, surprise, the little demon knows his commandments." Jason smiled.
"Yes, and I like the idea of being God's avenging angel you son of a bitch." Damian rushed at Jason, easily getting the upper hand and overpowering him.
They wrestled on the ground for a few short moments before Damian had Jason pinned to the ground with a stiff elbow to his throat.
"You will see I am a more worthy adversary when you don't shoot me in the back first." He seethed as he leaned down into Jason's face and ripped his mask off.
"You're a little badass aren't you?" Jason gasped, wincing.
"You have only just begun to see my skills." He replied and drew a knife from his boot.
"Damian! ENOUGH!" A shout came from behind them as the wind and leaves picked up.
"I will do this if you won't father!" Damian called back.
Bruce came quickly and with some effort disarmed his son and flung Jason away from them. As he often did Bruce pleaded, in his own nonverbal way, for Jason to see reason. Jason practically spat the effort back at him and leaned down to grab his mask.
"You saved the original, chided your youngest, and defend me. My my, its hard to believe you have anything left for poor Tim and the girls." Jason chuckled as he brushed himself off.
"Killing is never the answer but Damian is right about one thing. I can no longer allow you to simply get away with what you've done. Even out of guilt and responsibility." Bruce's Batvoice rumbled in the cool air.
"You won't shoot me but you can't let me go? So what then?"
With that Bruce launched himself at Jason and dropped him to the ground, dragging his arms behind him and binding his wrists and rooting the wires to the ground. He did the same with his legs and ankles.
"No, Jason, I've called the Commissioner. They won't recognize you and you won't talk."
They both knew Bruce was right about both points.
"I never wanted any of this Jason. I won't excuse myself nor will I continue to defend you out of guilt. I may have put you on this path but you have chosen to bury yourself so deeply in your vendetta that you no longer see the line between myself and….every other enemy you deem worthy of your attention."
With that Bruce stood and walked back to Damian, placing a hand on his shoulder and pushing him toward to Batmobile. He knew the night wasn't over but he wouldn't speak anymore of this tonight. He was tired and even God had a day of rest.2 Days Later…
Dick sat propped amongst several pillows in his old room at the Manor. Alfred had been rather convincing about Damian and Dick both staying until they were on the mend. Bruce was in town for a couple of days anyway and things needed to be settled. While Dick needed no explanations from Bruce he knew Damian still did but they never saw eye to eye.
"Pennyworth said you wanted to talk. I assume you're well if you can ramble on again."
"I hurt all over if that's what you mean. Then again I guess I should take that as I good sign." He sighed and winced as he shifted to face Damian. "I'm definitely not dead."
Damian didn't seem to think that last comment was funny. Dick decided to get to the subject at hand. He actually took it upon himself to be the mediator. He had to appease both Bruce and Damian by interpreting emotions and feelings of each.
Damian came into the room and stood by his bedside. Dick smiled and readied himself to lecture, patting the bed beside him for Damian to sit.
"I know you don't agree with Bruce and I understand. Really I do. But you have to understand where he's coming from too. You see, Batman is against killing because..?"
"We can't ever cross that line. It makes us criminals."
"Yes and especially with guns." Dick didn't think he needed to remind either of them why.
"Damian…this is probably going to come out sounding stupid and I know you think I'm…soft." Dick smiled brightly before continuing.
He had already convinced Bruce, Barbara, and Alfred that he was up to this. He wasn't too tired and he was starting to feel better after a couple days of forced bed rest.
"But I believe a few things in this world being definite. I have a lot of faith in those things. I believe there is real good in the world. Friends are family. Love is important. Batman always wins in the end. And…God loves everyone."
At Damian's confused look, which had been a look of boredom, Dick laughed and went on.
"God loved the world Damian and gave up something very important to him to save it. He did it for the knowing that Jesus understood. Bruce may not be God but…the greater good always comes first. He can't ever kill anyone Damian because that would change everything. The focus is that we have to keep ourselves alive to save more people. We save, never kill. Then when we can no longer fight another takes our place. It isn't about favorites or who was more important. Its about the mission we serve, the plan for our lives. In the end….we're all God's chosen." Dick ruffled Damian's hair and sent him off.
Damian stopped at the door and rested his hand on the doorframe as he turned to look over Dick. Dick was completely at peace. He was staring out his bedroom window at the moon and smiling?
"I'm glad you're not seriously wounded. It would have been…inconvenient to have you out for too long."
"Thank you, Damian. I'm glad you're okay too."
"Yes, well…." He looked awkwardly to the floor.
"Can you do me a favor?"
"Read the New Testament. It's a lot less depressing than the Old Testament." Dick laughed and once again Damian found Dick's personality and attitude astounding.
The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.
Bruce loves all his children equally if not in completely different ways. Even if Dick is the oldest and most influential (and my favorite ) I do believe he would be destroyed no matter which son had been at the Joker's hand. He guides his kids with firm, though loving, hands to keep them from failing. Imagine Bruce as a shepherd and then the scripture TOTALLY makes sense :P