Hi everyone :) Sorry that it wasn't up yesterday, my PC was working up, but now everything's fine.
First I want to thank everyone for the encouraging words :) And yes, life is getting better, so I consider myself back in the saddle again, or at least more than I was some time ago :)
I decided that this is not the last chapter, but the first part of the end, since it would have been too long as one chapter.
Sorry that it wasn't up yesterday, my PC was working up, but now everything's fine.
I don't own anything and hope you like it, even though I feel a bit rusty XD
Everything seemed so grey.
Batman clenched his teeth as he soared through Gotham City's sky, staring at his own reflection in a building.
Only days ago, his huge shadow had been accompanied by a smaller, brighter shadow, grinning at him. He would always see a flash of red, no matter where he went… The red shadow would light up the dark night, letting Batman's heart swell with pride and love, and sometimes with fear…
The fear to lose control…
The fear to lose the shadow…
But now everything was black and grey, as if all the colour had been washed out of the world, only returning occasionally.
Whether as an illusion seen in reflections, hallucinations brought forth by the craving to get things back to how they were, or as the blood that dripped from his victims as he struck them down without mercy.
Was gone, forever.
Bruce woke with a start, barely able to hold back a scream.
When he looked around the room, he realized that he was still in bed.
His room was dark and cold, almost suffocating.
Despite knowing that it had been a dream, he quickly got out of bed and hurried out of the room.
He didn't stop until he reached Damian's room.
For a moment he considered knocking, but he didn't want to wake the boy up for nothing, so he silently opened the door and entered the room.
The room was tidy and perfectly kept as always, the only difference was the amount of get well cards and a little bouquet of flowers, signed by the titans, that stood on the desk.
The mat Damian usually slept on, was empty, causing Bruce's heart to skip a beat. Had it really been a dream? Was Damian –
Bruce looked over to the king size bed, where the tired voice had come from.
Blue eyes stared at him out of the darkness.
Slowly, Damian sat up in the bed, rubbing his eyes sleepily. Now, Bruce noticed that Titus had been sleeping next to Damian, blocking the small boy from his view.
Smiling softly, he made his way over to the bed and sat down on the edge.
A bit confused, Damian eyed his father.
"Is something wrong?"
Bruce shook his head.
"No, everything is fine… I just –" but he didn't finish.
"Are you okay, Damian?"
Groaning a bit, Damian nodded.
"Except for being woken in the middle of the night, yeah, I am fine."
"Yeah, sorry about that"
He got up to leave, when his wrist was caught by Damian.
"Was there something you wanted? Surely you wouldn't wake me for nothing."
For a moment, Bruce considered lying, but when he looked into his son's confused eyes, pictures of the dream came back to his mind.
The thought of losing his son was too much.
He had almost lost him a few days back, and the one thing he had regretted the most in those minutes, had been the lack of conversations between them.
The things that had been left unspoken and had always been obvious for Bruce, may not have been as clear to Damian, so he sat down, gently nudging Titus off the bed.
"I had a dream today, a nightmare, and you were dead. I came to check on you."
Damian looked down at the blanket, strangely calm.
"I don't understand."
"What don't you understand?"
The boy looked up again, but avoided to look into his father's eyes.
"I drive you crazy all the time, I go against orders and do things you strictly forbid… wouldn't you be happier without me?"
Bruce sighed and pulled his legs up on the bed, so that he was sitting right next to Damian, Back to the wall.
He felt his son scoot away slightly, so he put an arm around his shoulders to keep him in place, squeezing him gently until he relaxed.
"Do you want to know what the dream was about?"
"I was dead… you already told me."
"But I never saw you die, all I knew was that suddenly the world was grey, and there was a hole I couldn't quite describe."
Damian smiled weakly.
"That sounds cheesy…"
"But that's exactly what it was…"
Bruce looked down at his son, and for once, Damian didn't look away.
"No matter how many times you disobey me, no matter how much trouble you cause, all of that vanishes as soon as your life is endangered.
I almost lost you back there… I have already lost many people, Damian, and I don't ever want to lose you. Understood?"
Damian nodded slowly, when Bruce leaned in to kiss his son's forehead.
"Now go back to sleep, sorry for waking you."
A bit flustered, Damian simply nodded again and disappeared under the blanket, while Bruce left the room.
Outside the door, Bruce took a deep breath.
He was too awake to go back to sleep himself now, so he walked towards his study.
At least he could finish some paperwork undisturbed at this time.
Three hours later
Surprised to be disturbed this early in the morning, Bruce looked up from his desk in his study and set down the papers he had been working on.
Slowly, the door opened and Tim entered the room, dressed in sweatpants and a white shirt.
He looked more than uncomfortable to be here, and Bruce wondered why he would get up this early to talk to him.
"Is everything all right, Tim?"
Tim looked up, kinda surprised and smiled at Bruce as he walked over to the armchair that stood on the other side of the big desk.
"Yeah, I'm okay."
Bruce nodded and leant back in his chair.
"I just have a little problem that keeps bugging me, I guess" Tim continued.
When nothing followed, Bruce cleared his throat and studied his son's face, trying to catch a glimpse of what might be bothering him.
Tim sighed and scratched his neck.
"It's about Damian…"
"Did he do something?" Bruce asked, carefully.
Instantly, Tim shook his head.
"Nah, he has been normal, you know? A brat and all, but he didn't try to kill me recently, so I guess he's even been better than before?"
"Then what is it?"
"His party… you know his secret 'welcome back from the dead' slash 'late birthday party' thingy."
Bruce raised his eyebrow, waiting to hear the actual problem.
Tim groaned and slumped down a bit.
"I just don't know what to do about it! Damian isn't really fond of me and I honestly don't want to ruin it for him, but if I even try to skip it, Dick is going to have my head for sure."
Chuckling, Bruce leant forward shrugged.
"Just don't ruin it for him."
"Ha!" Tim laughed sarcastically.
"That's easier said then done. He is going to provoke me for sure…"
"Then bribe him."
Confused, Tim squinted at Bruce.
"Bribe him? With what?"
Smiling, Bruce got up and went over to one of the antique dressers, as Tim followed him with his eyes.
Bruce opened the lowest drawer with care and pulled out a little something that looked like a plush toy.
It was worn and old, but Tim could see that it resembled something like a bat.
"You should know this, right?"
Bruce smiled as he carefully placed it into Tim's hands.
"This little plush toy has become a bit of a tradition here, and I think it's the greatest gift you could give to Damian."
Tim was still confused, why would Damian like this?
"I never figured him to be the guy to like plushies…"
"He doesn't like them. But he will get the gesture behind it."
Grinning a bit, Tim looked up.
"Which would be…?"
"That you, the one to always question his position in this family – "
" – Hey! I – " Tim interrupted, before Bruce held up a hand and silenced him.
"- If someone like you were to give him a toy that would, in a way, tell him that he is now an official member of this family, it would mean that you accept him. I think nothing could ever top that."
Slowly nodding, Tim studied the plush toy.
"Then a Bat-Kitty it will be…"
This was so surreal…
Dick stood outside of a make-a-bear shop and glanced through the huge window, not really believing what he saw.
A highly uncomfortable Timothy Drake stood there, surrounded by kids and staring mums, trying to cover his face with big sunglasses, while one of the employees showed him around.
For a moment, Dick fought the urge to grab his phone and shoot some pictures, but that wouldn't be fair…
Especially because he couldn't really get a good angle from here, and it would honestly not do the situation any justice, so chuckling to himself, he got inside and sneaked up to Tim.
"I really thought you had outgrown plush animals by now, Timmy."
Sighing, Tim turned away from the employee and glared at Dick, well at least his eyebrows indicated a glare…
"Ha Ha, you are hilarious, Richard."
Dick grinned and shrugged.
"Seriously, what are you doing here? Gotten a new girlfriend you are trying to impress by showing her a plushie collection?"
Groaning, he turned away and walked over to a little shelf, filled with tiny costumes from several superheroes, his big brother on his heels.
"She's into superheroes? Wow, but I don't see a Red – "
"DICK!" Tim almost yelled, spinning on his heels to face the wide grin.
He wanted to continue, when he noticed that all eyes were on him and the some mothers were covering their children's ears, staring at him completely shocked.
"Oh god" Tim said, "No, I didn't mean that!"
He pointed at Dick.
"His name is Richard, and… and we sometimes…"
But it was useless, the people only shook their heads and tried to keep their distance, while Dick was trying hard not to burst into laughter.
"See what you have done now?" Tim asked.
"I see that you can be great at making a fool out of yourself, now what are you doing here?"
Tim sighed defeated and leant against the shelf.
"It's for Damian…"
Suddenly, the grin vanished from Dick's face.
"You are joking, right?"
Tim only shrugged, slightly unsettled by Dick's change.
"He's going to have your head for that."
"Bruce said that – "
"No, Tim, I mean, Damian is literally going to have your head for that.
If you give him a plushie in front of everyone, he is going to climb your window at night, cut off your head and fill it with plush… believe me, he will."
As if he was imagining it, Dick raised his eyebrows and looked to the side.
"No, Bruce said that it would be a symbol of accep – "
" – Maybe he'll even add a tiny bow…"
Tim grabbed Dick's shoulders and shook him lightly.
"Di… I mean, Richard, stop it. Damian won't do that, now get out of here, you make everything so much worse…"
With that, he turned Dick around and gently pushed him towards the exit.
"Mhmm, definitely a pink bow."
Before Dick was out of the store, he looked over his shoulders and squinted his eyes at Tim.
"Don't come to me when you can't find your head anymore Timothy!"
As soon as the door closed, Tim buried his face in his hands.
"Oh my god, please just kill me before the party."
It was a Saturday morning, when Damian slowly stepped into the kitchen and decided that something was definitely off.
No greeting Alfred…
No grumbling Drake…
He glanced around to see whether there had been any changes since he had last seen the kitchen, but there was no difference at all.
For a split second, Damian remembered the last time he had felt this alarmed in his own house, and yes this was to become his house eventually.
Drake would have to pry it from his cold dead hands!
He positioned his back to the wall and let out a sharp whistle, focused on getting Titus to his side as quick as possible.
The dog had been through enough because of him, he'd take care of him now.
It didn't take more than four seconds until the Dane shot around the corner and approached Damian, tail wagging and heckling contently.
Damian grabbed Titus' collar and gently drew him closer.
"You don't seem alarmed at all boy."
The Dane barked and licked Damian's hand before staring at the entrance of the kitchen, excited.
There was obviously something up, but it didn't seem to be dangerous, that was until Damian heard a noise from the entrance and a cocky voice.
"Well maybe he should be!"
Just before Damian was able to move, a man jumped into the kitchen and shot at Damian at the same time.
The little dart hit Damian in the neck, immediately injecting some kind of sedative.
It only took a second to knock the boy out.
"… Ja-son! Sonofabi…" was all that Damian managed to whisper weakly before his knees gave out and he lost his consciousness.
Jason charged forward to catch the young Robin before he hit his head on the counter.
"Sweet dreams little demon."
He heard someone enter the kitchen behind him.
"God damn it Jason! Did you have to do it like that? he'll be furious the second he wakes up…"
Dick walked around the cooking isle to pick Damian out of Jason's arms, gently throwing him over his shoulder.
"Yeah, like a Tasmanian Devil! It'll be hilarious."
Upon imagining Damian furious and foaming like the brown cartoon figure, Dick couldn't help but chuckle at the fitting image.
"Let's just get him out of here…"
"Oh my god! He's just too cute like this…"
Stephanie Brown stared at Damian, who had been tied up to a solid chair for everyone's safety.
He was fast asleep, looking as innocent as possible.
"Can't we keep him like that?"
Smiling, she looked over her shoulder, where the people were busy hanging up decorations and preparing tables for the guests.
Connor, who had been walking by with a bunch of boxes laughed at the remark.
"I think 90% of the guests wish for that to happen."
"What about the other 10%?" she asked, turning away from Damian.
"99% of those probably want to see him gone for good."
Stephanie and Connor both looked to the side where a huge man stared down at both of them, obviously upset.
"No one here wants Damian dead! And if you didn't like him, you wouldn't be here… wait, are you Superboy?"
The man's voice had changed from angry and challenging to meek and intimidated in a matter of seconds, and suddenly, the man began to shrink as well, causing his clothes to hang from his tiny shoulders.
Connor stared down at the now little boy and nodded a bit confused, while Stephanie laughed loudly.
"Colin! Don't worry, we were just kidding. Connor, meet Colin, he's also Abuse, in case you've heard of him."
Having regained his composure, Connor smiled and nodded towards the boxes in his hands.
"I would shake your hand now, but I'm a bit occupied."
Colin shook his head shyly and stepped closer to Stephanie.
Suddenly, they heard someone call for Connor.
"Kon! We need the decorations now!" Tim called from the other side of the hall.
Smiling, Connor nodded one last time and turned to leave.
"Well Colin," Steph began, not looking at the boy.
"How about you change into something your size and not ripped apart?"
Flushed and embarrassed, the little redhead nodded and took off.
"What a party…" Stephanie said grinning, throwing one last glance at the sleeping Damian.
"You sure are loved."
The preparations of the party continued to go smoothly, when all of a sudden the sound of breaking glass ripped apart the cheerful atmosphere and all eyes rested on Dick who stood at the entrance, arm still raised.
Before him, stood a woman, who had barely managed to dodge the crystal bowl that had been thrown at her, as soon as she had entered the hall.
"If you don't get out of here within the next five seconds, I'm going to rip you apart woman…"
Bruce, who had hurried to Dick's side tried to hold his son back.
"Dick, calm down, I invited – "
Immediately, Dick whipped his head around and glared at Bruce.
"You invited her?! She killed your son! Remember?!"
Talia didn't dare to move an inch, while assessing whether to stay or to get the hell out of here.
"She is still Damian's mother."
"I don't care! Five seconds… five "
Talia cleared her throat and held up a hand.
"How about we let our son decide?"
Dick shook his head and chuckled coldly.
"Forget it, two…"
"Dick, you are being unreasonably selfish…" Bruce said
"Damian should decide whether she can attend or not. Talia, " he turned to look at her
"Wait in a café or something, and I'll call you as soon as Damian is awake."
Talia nodded and left immediately, leaving a furious Richard back.
Dick was about to yell at Bruce, when he was interrupted by a Jason calling from where Damian sat.
"CODE RED! Demon seed is waking up! I repeat: CODE RED, this is not a test!"
Bruce and Dick both sighed and hurried over to Jason, while Bruce ordered everyone to finish up quickly.
After about ten seconds, thanks to the speedsters, everything was ready and the glass had been cleaned up.
Damian felt nothing but a heavy head…
The sedative had been strong, because his tolerance against any kind of sedatives was pretty high, yet it seemed to have been quite some time since he had gotten attacked by Jason this morning.
He wasn't surprised to feel constriction at all, but what he heard was a bit weird.
All around him, he heard noises, people chatting, hurrying about…
Despite being awake, he kept playing the sleeping boy, allowing the sedative to wear off some more, to be able to fight right away if necessary.
Suddenly, he felt the presence of someone just inches away from his face.
"I know you're awake Damian…"
After that, Jason drew back and began shouting.
"I'm sorry Damian, but you woke up a bit too early."
Damian wanted to protest, but all of a sudden, he was blindfolded, gagged and something was put over his ears to drown out any kind of sound.
What the heck was going on?
For a good minute, he couldn't hear or see anything, and slowly, it was making him rather nervous…
Then, without a warning, the thing that had covered his ears disappeared, as well as the gag and the blindfold.
Before even opening his eyes, Damian began to curse.
"I'M GOING TO KILL YOU TODD! You stupid – "
He stopped the moment he opened his eyes, and the whole room seemed to explode into colours and happy cheers.
Banners and balloons were everywhere, all carrying the same words.
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAMIAN!"
It was weird, everyone was smiling at him, even Bruce had a wide smile on his face…
So many people were here… most of the justice league, almost all the teen titans…
Damian couldn't help but stare at them.
Slowly, the cheers died down and everyone looked at Damian expectantly, as if he was supposed to do something…
But Damian had no idea how to react.
He didn't even know how he felt about it.
What the heck was he supposed to do at a time like this?