So, I've only just now been able to read all of the Batman and Robin comics (that of Dick and Damian), but, before that, I really became enthralled with Damian. I didn't really like him at first, and now I really love him. So, yes.
Anywho, this means that this is my first Batman comic fic. This takes place after issue #6, I believe. It was actually really challenging to write. I normally don't have too big a problem picking up characters, but, most of what I've written on this site are all tv show or movie characters. A comic book is a tad bit more challenging. Though, everyone on here was pretty consistant, so that's what a lot of this was based off of.
Talia, who makes an appearance, was the biggest challenge, and I don't think I quite got her. Full disclosure. But, please, read and enjoy! There really need to be more Dick/Damian brother fics.
It had been such a...unique feeling. The brief flash of pain, and then nothing. A weird, sort of floating feeling, nerves trying to bring or send information, but not really succeeding. The knowledge that something was wrong, so very, very wrong – he was paralyzed – but not being able to fear it, because there was nothing.
And yet, even in that nothing, there was fear. Because, really, when there is nothing, there must be something. And if you don't know what that something is, how can you be prepared to fight against it?
Even now, as his consciousness struggled to win, Damian couldn't help – couldn't stop – these thoughts from rushing through his mind at unbeatable speeds. An odd sense of adrenaline – of fear, he wanted to deny – was kicking in, but, his body was too sluggish, too weak, too...nothing to do anything. And, even as the world around him was going on full tilt – he could hear Batman fighting, doing something, and then there was that terrible crunching noise, whatever that was – he couldn't pay it any heed. Which sickened him.
Except that it didn't, because, to be quite frank, he was much too worried about not feeling, and not fearing. That in itself was cause to fear, though he tried to squash such feelings with memories of his mother's harsh teachings on weakness.
Weakness. He was weak right then. He couldn't move. He couldn't feel anything below his waist. And, he knew without looking or feeling, that there was blood loss. A lot of it.
He knew, then. He knew that his services as Robin – his future as Batman – had come to an end. And while something in the back of his mind kept nagging at him, telling him that there was a way to fix this, he remained petrified in thought. As if someone had deliberately pressed pause on that one idea that he would no longer be able to fight.
Damian wanted to panic. He wanted to scream and cry and whatever else he could. The only thing he knew how to do was suddenly taken away from him. The only thing that made him acceptable to anyone – the only thing that he was the cause of any affection from his mother (he was certain that it was the same with Grayson, since the man had put an emphasis on Batman and...) – had been ripped away from him.
Why hadn't those bullets just killed him, then?
Damian's hands curled into the dirt below him as he attempted to keep his breathing under control. He didn't want to appear any more weak than he was. He closed his eyes to fight the heat and stinging that had gathered right behind them. He almost hoped that Batman lost this final battle, just so this Flamingo character could come back and finish the job.
"Robin?" A hand touched his arm.
Opening his eyes, Damian turned his head as much as he could to look up. "Yes?"
He couldn't be sure, but, he thought that Batman smiled ever so slightly at his tone of annoyance. "You okay?"
Damian cursed this infernal lighting, playing tricks with the shadows. "I'm fine."
"You sure? Do you need anything, like pain killers?" His voice was lined with concern.
"You really are an idiot." Damian muttered. "I can't feel a thing. I'm fine."
He really wasn't. He was lying through his painfully gritted teeth. But he wasn't about to tell Grayson that. Even so, he was grateful to the man for staying by his side, a comforting hand on his arm, until his mother's paramedics arrived.
After that, any physical contact was strictly for medical reasons. And more than once, Damian found himself wishing for that comforting hand on his arm.
He had no recollection of the surgery. No idea how it was done. Just that when he next woke up, from the waist down, he was on fire. And fear coursed through him in waves. His body convulsed, and Damian couldn't keep the cry of pain from escaping him.
His spine was shooting pain up and down, and a headache was suddenly pulsing fast and strong. The white lights and walls did little to relieve him of it. Nor did the rapid footsteps and loud voices entering the room.
"What is wrong with my son?"
"Nothing, Lady Talia. At least, there shouldn't be."
They shuffled around, while his mother stood nearby. But she didn't offer him any comfort, even while Damian struggled to keep his breathing under control.
"Well?" She asked in a clipped tone.
"He's in pain, that much is clear-"
"Doctor, his spine is new – better. How can he be suffering?"
The doctor shrugged. "Perhaps he had a nightmare-"
"My son does not have nightmares."
"Theoretically speaking," Damian could easily hear the fear, in the doctors voice. He was clearly weighing the option of being bold with the deadliest person in the room, or keeping his opinions to himself. "Theoretically speaking, a patient, even with a new spine and spinal cord, remembering the event that caused the damage, causes the brain to send messages through the body of the pain they could be feeling."
"My son," Talia reiterated. "Does not have nightmares." She looked down with a smile that Damian remembered thinking it always warm. But, now, looking at it anew, he saw it and felt that it was cold. A thin disguise for a calculating mind. "Am I right, my son?"
Damian licked his lips. There was no way it was a nightmare he had. Not possible "Yes."
She looked back at the doctor.
He nodded. "Then perhaps it is his body still adjusting to the new spine. It is still bonding, after all."
Talia's eyes slitted. "If I wasn't so confident of the success of the surgery, nor aware of your many services to me, I would have you killed for this to still be a problem. As it stands, I need you to transport my son back to Gotham. Consider yourself fortunate."
They left the room.
Damian almost called out for his mother again. Almost. He was certain it wasn't a nightmare. But, he still longed for a comforting hand on his arm.
A manic face flashed into view. Several loud bangs sounded in the air. The ground rushed up to meet him. The gun cocked. BANG!
Damian started awake with a low gasp. He had dozed on the helicopter transporting him home. His mother's physician gazed at him, a more annoyed than caring look on his face. Damian glared back at him before turning away to look out of the window.
The neck brace hindered him – indeed, Damian wondered how on earth he was able to doze in the thing – but he was fine with the temporary discomfort. Along with the view, it made for a good distraction. He wanted to scoff at his own foolishness – Mother would certainly not approve of his want. He simply couldn't spend his time wishing for a comforting hand on his arm, when that was clearly not an option.
It had taken him four days to convince Pennyworth that he didn't need the neck brace. Not to sleep, anyways. He rarely moved in his sleep. Not even those cursed dreams had been causing him to move drastically, if at all.
Besides, he was young. Healing didn't take half as long as it did for an adult. That tussle with the zombie Batman only proved that he was practically the same as before. Of course, neither Grayson nor Pennyworth were too keen on his returning to patrol any time soon.
Damian lay staring at the ceiling, determined to get back to being Robin the next day. Honestly, it's not like he had to worry about anything. Grayson overreacted far too much to these things – which was exactly why, Damian thought, he had gone on and done that idiotic stunt with the Lazarus pit.
Closing his eyes, Damian steadied his breathing.
Scarlett – Sasha – was yelling something. Red Hood no longer had his mask. Batman was somewhere else, he couldn't see him. And that infernal, pink man was grinning manically for no reason, only grunting, never speaking.
He jumped. There was a sharp tug. A gun sounded off. Intense pain and burning in his back. He hit the ground. The gun again. And again. And again. And again. And again.
Damian woke with a yell, and his body convulsed. Without the brace, his neck and back immediately started screaming at him. He didn't know where he was. It was dark, and he didn't understand it. And then he remembered.
His breath came in short gasps, and on instinct he twisted around to try to alleviate the pain. But it was only making it worse. Now on his stomach, he closed his eyes tight, half expecting that doctor to come in and "tsk" at him. It was his whimpers of pain that kept him from hearing the running footsteps coming down the hall.
"Damian?" His door burst open, and light poured through. The footsteps came closer. "Damian, you okay?"
He squinted his eyes open to see Grayson's silhouette, and Pennyworth standing a foot in the door, and then closed them again, tightly.
"I'll go get the painkillers."
"Thanks, Alfred." The bed dipped. "Damian?" A hand touched his arm. "What happened?"
"Nothing," Damian ground out. His back was lessening the fire he had stoked.
"You sure?" Another hand touched his back, and ran up and down it.
"I'll be fine."
"Hm," Grayson hummed. His hand ran up to his neck and rested there for a second, as if feeling for anything irregular. Then it went back to running up and down his spine.
Damian started to relax under it.
He tensed again, but it didn't stop the hand. "Of course not. I don't have nightmares."
He could hear the amusement in Grayson's voice. Confound him. "Of course not." A pause. "You know, when I had my first major injury-"
"This isn't my first major injury, Grayson."
"-I had nightmares about it for weeks. I kept dreaming about it happening over and over again. It terrified me every single time. Your dad asked if I wanted to give up being Robin because of it. In fact, I think he was hoping I would."
Damian shifted, but stopped when he felt the hand push against him gently. "I'm not going to stop being Robin."
"I know." Grayson started stroking his arm with his thumb.
Pennyworth appeared with the pills and glass of water.
Carefully, Damian – with help from Grayson – turned around and sat up. He accepted the pill and downed it easily before taking a drink. He briefly wondered if it had a strong enough effect to keep him from dreaming.
As he was drinking, he noted the bed creaking, and the mattress dipping further and rearranging itself until it had settled. Giving the glass back to Pennyworth, he realized it was because Grayson had decided to sit completely beside him, his arm coming up against the head board behind his shoulders.
When Pennyworth had left to take care of the glass, he turned to glare at his partner. "What do you want, Grayson?"
Grayson smiled tiredly, and Damian realized that he had just come back from patrol. "I wanna know how you're doing."
Damian inched away to avoid unnecessary physical contact. "I told you, I'm fine."
"Right, right. That's why you were in pain."
Damian rolled his eyes and turned away. He really didn't want to deal with this.
"So, nightmare, huh?"
Damian didn't look back. "I believe that I also told you that I-"
"-Don't have nightmares." Grayson's hand ran through his hair as he sighed. "Look, Damian, it's okay to admit that stuff. Your dad had them. Alfred has them. I have them."
Damian looked scornfully at the man. "Have, present tense. You still have them? Honestly, Grayson, for a man with as much experience as you claim, you dream like a coward."
Grayson's lips pursed together in a thin line. "Nightmares aren't the dreams of cowards, Damian. They're the dreams of people. I'll bet your mom has them."
"Nonsense. Al Guhl's don't have nightmares, they are a sign of weakness."
"Or maybe they are the signs of being an actual person. If your mom doesn't have nightmares, she's desensitized."
"Watch your tongue, Grayson. You're treading dangerous ground."
"Of course I am," he muttered. "What I'm trying to say, is, that they are completely normal. It's just our brains processing fears."
"I don't fear anything."
"Yes, you do, Damian." When the boy didn't continue, Dick did. "I fear a lot of stuff. I fear falling from high places-"
"-Then why do you so like to 'fly,' as you like to put it?"
"We're not talking about that right now, Damian. I fear a Gotham that not even Batman can save. I fear losing my family-"
"-You already did."
Dick paused, willing himself to keep from an outburst. He's just being Damian. He's just hiding something. No real harm done. "I meant my current family."
Damian looked at him sharply, again. "What current family? Family is made up of people related by blood."
"Family can also be people that you've grown close to. Like Alfred, and Tim." He leaned in a little closer. "Like you."
Damian looked away. "Stop being ridiculous, Grayson."
"No." He regarded his little brother for a moment. "You know I had nightmares after than night, too?"
Damian didn't say anything.
"I kept dreaming that I was getting a call from Talia, saying that you were dead. That she couldn't help you. That terrified me, Damian. It really didn't help when the next time I saw you, you were falling from the top of the building because of something I caused."
Damian still didn't answer, though he did shift some.
"So, nightmares are normal." His arm easily slipped from the head board to around Damian's shoulders, pulling him closer. "I'm not ashamed of you having nightmares. I'd be a little worried if you didn't, to be quite honest. I'm just glad you're not dead."
Damian turned his face away a little more, though he didn't bother trying to move away. Wasn't this what he craved?
"Even if your mom couldn't fix your back, I'd just be glad that you were still here."
This time, Damian did stiffen. He stopped thinking, his mind once more paused on the idea of him not being able to fight. Except, that this time, it was also on the idea that Grayson didn't have a problem with that.
"I need to get to bed. We might see about getting you back to being Robin tomorrow, 'kay?"
Damian nodded, not quite looking up to Grayon's – Richard's face.
There was slight pressure on the top of his head, and then the dip on his bed was amended. Laying back down, Damian turned to watch as the man left.
He stopped at the doorway, turned and said with his hand on the door knob, "Good night, Damian. I love you."
Damian simply nodded, not quite sure what to say back.
With a widened grim, Richard closed the door.
Fluff much? *sighs* Hope you liked it anyways. Please leave a review! I wanna hear your thoughts, whether you liked it, hated it, or thought it could use some improving, if for the sake of future readers. :) -Jimmy C.