Post Batman Inc. #8 Canon divergence.
Slight Jay/Dick, and can be taken as a Brotherly/Fatherly/or Romantic love on Dick and Dami's part depending on your preferences, but love all the same.
Dick could feel the blood rushing down his face, the glass shards embedded in his flesh, and the dread welling up in his mind as his eyes fluttered open. The notion that they had been closed in the first place, and that he was clearly awakening when they had been in the middle of a life or death battle on a city wide scale, was terrifying.
His brain was pounding against his skull as he shifted, body protesting in agony, muscle and flesh burning as he pushed himself through the jagged debris. His vision swam with the pain, blood and sweat running into the corners of his eyes, further adding to the deep ache that had become his person.
But nothing could compare to the deep agony that ripped through his chest when his vision finally cleared, the never ending great feeling of loss as his gaze settled upon Bruce's trembling form, and the small broken body nestled within his arms.
The dry sob broke free of his lips, a quiet, strangled noise as tears threatened to join the other fluids running in his eyes.
He didn't need to be cradling the body, be near it even, to know that he was gone…
Damian was dead… murdered by a monster, a vicious experimental creation set loose upon them by his own mother. Erased from existence because he had the tragic destiny of being born to feuding households and a jealous, raging, unstable woman who had aimed to use him to destroy their world straight from his beginning.
Damian was gone because he had gone down early in the fight. Because he left him, a child, on his own to fight a vicious creature in a battle he had had no chance of winning… and what hurt the most, clawed at his chest, was that he had been right there, out cold, while he was being put through an unimaginable amount of pain.
He never should have let him join this battle… should have stopped him while he had had the chance…
And now that beast was moving across the room, still up on his feet despite the grievous wounds stretching across his form, no doubt inflicted in the desperate effort of a boy hell-bent on stopping the cold, cruel rampage the monster of his own flesh and blood was on with his mother at the controls.
Talia had killed her own son… just to spite Bruce… because the boy had chosen his father over her, and the legacy he had been forced into at 'birth'.
He would never get to hug the boy again, coddle him, love him. They would never patrol together once more, never get to play that game he had been so excited about… he would never get to hear the boy's voice ever again… and that was suffocating.
Heretic was the executioner, the monster that had crushed a young boy… the cruel bastard that had taken Damian away from him.
And that was not something he could stand for… something he could live with.
He had made the decision the moment he had set eyes on Damian's body. He moved without hesitation, ignoring the onslaught of pain as he moved, pushing himself up out of the pile of glass. He fisted a large shard in his gauntlet, ignoring the sharp bite of pain as it ripped through the kevlar spandex weave and slit into the flesh of his hand.
The giant was mere feet from the crouched lump of anguish that Bruce had become when he had made his move, rushing at the massive form that had snuffed out the bright and shining light of his own predecessor.
Bruce only just barely looked up in time to see the danger, and what was likely to be him at his lowest as he slammed his body into the rock of a man with every ounce of strength he could muster. He clung to the beast's back as it thrashed wildly, attempting to throw him, and continue pursuit of his prey.
He gripped at Heretic's shoulders, pushing every reminder of the fact that this monster was a bastardized, age accelerated copy of the lifeless body cradled within his pseudo-father's arms, out of his mind as he wrenched his free hand around the man's body.
He ignored the look of horror that passed over the Bat's already grief stricken face as he caught sight of it out of the corner of his eye, knowing that if he dwelled upon it, it would make things all the more worse.
In that last moment, he was sure Heretic knew… and if he hadn't already surely lost so very much regardless of the turnout, Dick might have grinned madly in triumph as he put every last bit of strength he had behind his swing.
The jagged stretch of glass sliced through cloth and flesh as easily as butter.
The copy howled, sputtering off into a frantic gurgle as he tried to rip Dick's body from his own with no success. Dick kept his hold tight, further pressing the large shard deeper into the flesh and muscle, effectively ripping through the carotid, and lodging within his trachea. He felt the rush of warmth as the blood washed over his hands, spurting from the gaping, ragged wound in high volume.
A vicious primal scream echoed over the intercom as Talia became aware of what he had just done, and he felt a rush of passionate burning hatred erupt in his chest for the woman it had sounded from.
Tonight she would lose both of her sons, all by her own doing, and she was no longer capable of being the victor of this battle.
All in all, she had just lost everything.
Just as he had.
He held on tight, listening to nothing but the sound of his own ragged breathing and the bubbled gurgling sputtering from the unnatural mass of flesh beneath him. He did not release his hold, not until every last ounce of fight left the clone's body, not until he could feel the life drain from his form, until Heretic sunk to the floor in an ungraceful angled heap beneath him, still forevermore.
He lay panting atop the mass of flesh and bone with his eyes shut tight. A small effort to regain his composure as his body began to shake violently in the aftermath.
It wouldn't change anything, this monster's death… but it was all over, and Damian was surely avenged. He had deserved that at the very least, after everything…
After he had failed to protect him.
It was a sense of numbness that followed, and continued long after he relinquished his hold on the jagged piece of glass, pushing himself up off of the limp body beneath him.
He avoided the gaze of the man sitting shell shocked just feet away as he crawled toward him- them…
He knelt before the man and the boy in his arms, staring at the blood speckled skin, at the uncharacteristic look of fear gracing the boy's now lifeless face… an image that he would never be able to erase from his mind, forever burned into the back of his eyelids.
Without words, he reached forward, prying large fingers away from the boy's form with desperate force before he wrenched Damian from Bruce's grasp, cuddling him against his chest.
He felt the tears break free and stream down his cheeks in wide, fast flowing rivers as he buried his face within the mussed raven spikes atop Damian's head, pain no longer bearable in any form.
He heard the man before him shift, the wet kevlar and armor grating against the floor as he moved closer, water droplets dripping to the floor as he went. Dick half wondered how he had been drenched, but decided it didn't matter.
The man reached forward, stopping just short of Dick's shoulder when he tensed.
"Don't. Just- just shut up…" He choked, pressing himself closer, squeezing tighter.
He supposed Bruce might have persisted. Perhaps held him in comfort, or maybe he would have torn into him over his actions, the most severe breach of protocol, if he had been given the chance. But Dick was saved from any confrontation as feminine shrieks became apparent, and grew closer, louder, with each passing second, eventually surfacing in the form of Talia. She thrashed as she was dragged along, bound hands behind her back with Tim at her rear, and Jason in the lead with an arm around her throat, and pistol to her head. He looked worse for wear, but still relatively unscathed, and Tim was slightly ruffled in appearance.
Dick couldn't bring himself to move, too physically, and mentally exhausted to do little more than breath and cling. All in all, probably a good thing, as he wanted nothing more than to wring the woman's neck as she was forced to stare at the bodies of her progeny.
He listened to her scream with indifference, shutting his eyes, and blocking out the world around him, letting everything go.
He had awoken back at the manor, or rather, the cave sometime during the following evening. It had not been surprising at all to Dick to find himself strapped to the med bay table, wounds cleansed and bandaged. He could have easily escaped if he had wanted to, but he was far too tired, depressed, and defeated to even bother. Perhaps they knew this; otherwise they would have put more effort into his bindings.
Alfred came to him several times throughout the course of the night to check on him, tend to his wounds, attempt to coax him into eating, but he dismissed the man choosing to instead stare blankly at the ceiling, not yet ready to acknowledge the outside world.
Tim stayed with him for a time, going over what had occurred since his blackout, in a forced robotic fashion. Leery to meet his gaze, although he knew it was for any reason but fear.
Both Talia and Bruce had been taken into police custody, and Gordon was having a hell of a time trying to come up with the cover up story of the century. Jim was trying his damnedest to spare the Wayne family association with the Batman, no longer denying that he was in on the secret. Bruce Wayne's involvement and presence in the attack was plausible due to the chaos taking place on Wayne property. But things were hard to get past, such as a bullet and arrow riddled 'civilian child' run through with a massive sword by an older clone under orders of their mother, said older clone also dead on scene. They had several people on their side that had managed to survive willing to back up any cover story established thankfully, but it also meant their secret was now even more widely spread… extenuating circumstances he supposed, but unnerving all the same.
To Dick's surprise, Bruce was claiming responsibility for Heretic, as far as Gordon, and official documents were concerned. He was admittedly unsure of what to think, what to feel about that given what had occurred. Even worse was the fact that while Gordon was able to avoid the Wayne/bat connection, there was no getting past the fact that a second child under Bruce's care had died an unnatural death under shady circumstances…
He had been sedated, to a degree. He supposed it was to keep him calm, manageable in his distraught state, keeping them and himself safe from any further injury.
They need not have bothered, the fight had left him.
Three days later he was still confined to the cave, but no longer bound to the table. Released after they were sure he wasn't going to
Talia had escaped police custody, and had presumably fled the country, showing the slightest hint of compassion towards Bruce as she left a parting gift with Gordon… a confession claiming responsibility for the incident, including the death of her sons.
She had already won, one way or another… Bruce had lost his son, but kept his city, just as she had promised.
Bruce had been released shortly after, solemnly returning to the manor after a brief conversation with Jim, concerning children in the field, to which he had sworn 'never again'… and had meant it this time. Not that anyone would likely ever let him legally adopt or care for another orphan ever again after this fiasco.
Something Dick wasn't losing any sleep over, nor Alfred.
No one spoke with one another, allowing a single day of silence throughout the household, save for the mournful howling Titus provided in the far caverns of the cave, waiting for a master that would never return.
The funeral was held the very next day, the body released from hold, and prepped for viewing in record time. He spent the day sick to his stomach, in the presence of everyone they held close to their family, their secrets. Even Jason showed his face, despite his absence since his rough and tumble with Talia, although he stayed far in back, away from the casket, and away from Bruce.
Later he rubbed Dick's shoulders as he dry heaved in the bushes at the back end of the property, offering him silent comfort.
Both he and Tim left the manor afterward.
They did not return.
The days that followed the funeral blurred together, indistinguishable from one another in the back corners of Dick's mind. He simply existed, nothing more, no effort put into his days. He slept, yet not really, most of the day merely laying there in bed within his old room staring blankly at nothing, yet everything as the clock ticked away.
Alfred had forced him to eat a handful of small, light meals over time, only having given in to return his dwelling to a place of solitude. Only a select few managed to stay down regardless, the rest meeting the porcelain basin, rarely longer than a half hour after consumption.
Bruce never bothered trying, coping (or rather, not coping), in his own way tucked within the cave. He was grateful for this. He wouldn't even know what to say.
He had nothing to deny.
He regretted nothing.
It was at the end of the first week when he had finally had enough.
He did not want Alfred's pushiness, his mindless chatter, and his forced meals.
He no longer wished to be under the same roof as Bruce, the man brooding, and depressed, yet actively trying to get through his days as though nothing had changed, if only for appearance sake.
He could not bear to step down into the cave… a second case now erected beside the first. He did not wish to see it. He had already felt as though his chest were collapsing when he had gotten glimpse of it from atop the stairs on his way down one evening.
He had not entered the cave since.
At one point or another, Alfred had deposited a roommate within his chambers without his consent, possibly hoping the sudden presence of the furry creature would bring him out of his withdrawn state. Admittedly, that cat by the same name offered the slightest bit of comfort, for no reason other than the joy it had brought Damian in the short time he had known the feral kitten.
When it had bit him, and hissed at him for the first time, he had burst into tears. The small creature had curled up on his side afterwards in silent apology, seemingly understanding his angst.
He had made the decision to leave without consulting either of the household's current occupants. He had simply gathered what little he felt like grabbing, mostly random trinkets from both his own room as well as Damian's, before tucking the spitting kitten back into the carrier he had once arrived in, and 'borrowing' one of Bruce's standard cars, heading off to Barbara's.
He had left Gotham all together, unable to bear living in a city where every nook and cranny, every street, every building reminded him of what he had so easily lost in such a short amount of time.
Babs had understood… she always understood. Set him up half way across the country, cut off from anything and everything that screamed Bruce, Batman, assassins, and Robin. Filled a bank account with enough funds to get him back on his feet and then some. Let him hold her tightly all night, a teary mess, before he departed in the morning in an unmarked rental she had provided, promising to return Bruce's car to him whenever she felt like she could bear to see him.
He thought getting away could help, not make it better, never better… but it had the opposite effect. He yearned for Gotham, missed it greatly, in all its madness and murky nights. He missed the flash of red, green, and yellow out of the corners of his eyes as he patrolled, and knowing that back in Gotham it would not be present either did not make things any better.
His patrols were half-assed. The passion was gone, the feel not the same, the scenery unfamiliar. He was violent, far more than necessary, and he couldn't bring himself to care.
Care about anything really.
After Joker's vicious attack on everyone he had ever cared about, the complete utter mindfuck on them all, and the added trauma of Damian's death, he knew he would never feel safe, or right about getting close to anyone ever again. He wasn't at peace with that responsibility. He wouldn't endanger anyone ever again… not when he couldn't protect them as he should.
He slept long hours for the first time in ages, Damian's sword hung above his headboard. The sleep was restless, filled with nightmares, and terrors that used to stay hidden in the back of his mind. He was almost more tired upon waking than he was before hitting the sheets… or couch… floor… wherever he seemed to land when he gave in to his exhaustion.
He seldom left the house outside of costume, trudging out only to fill his cabinets and freezer, and get Alfred- the cat, his meals. He himself could still only barely stomach a meal a day, but the kitten became downright vicious if not given sustenance in a timely manner multiple times a day.
He did not have a job… nor did he intend to get one for fear of endangering co-workers, but perhaps sometime down the line he could do something over the computer for pay. Less risk that way. He supposed he would have to eventually. The funds he had been given would not last forever, not unless Barbara stocked it regularly over time.
He would never ask her to.
No one knew his location, or phone number, other than Barbara, and she gave him his space. He carried no comlinks, no radios while out on patrol, left only with himself and the odd awkward silence that came with being in a city with no allies at the ready.
He had to come up with a routine, a pattern, if he ever hoped to regain any sense of normalcy.
A month into his stay within the new city marked yet another turning point in Dick's life.
Over time he had become increasingly irate whilst on patrol. No soft words or demands in his ear, no partner to reel him in, the self-loathing, rage, and hate churning in his chest each night… he supposed it was only a matter of time before he slipped. He had almost been at that point after Joker's torturous jokes, the murders, and Damian had been there to hold him back, calm his raging mind…
But there was no Damian in this city, no Damian anywhere, and no Bruce to keep up appearances for.
He hadn't expected the warehouse bust to go so…wrong.
A simple in and out had been on the agenda. Beat the thugs to a pulp, tie them up, make sure the evidence was out in the open, wait for the cops, and leave.
Standard procedure no matter what city he was in.
He had expected the drugs. He had expected the cash. Hell, he had even expected that some of the city's prestigious lot were involved.
He hadn't counted on children.
They hadn't counted on him.
The moment he had set his eyes on the three young boys he knew things were going to get messy, that he would have to protect them, keep them from harm, yet still accomplish what needed to be done without someone trying to use one of them as a meat shield or bait. He had to rearrange the entirety of his plan to work in the civilians that could easily turn hostages in the blink of an eye.
Only, he never got to finish planning, plan in its entirety going out the window along with any other thought process. One moment the men were laughing amongst each other, loading and unloading crates, drinking in the far corner of the building, shouting orders to one another. In the next, a fist was slammed into the side of one of the boys' face, a hand down the back of another's jeans.
And he lost it.
He was on the ground in an instant, barreling right at the men at his top speed. Bullets went flying, knives appeared out of nowhere, and the children scattered as he leapt upon the large bodies, fists pummeling flesh, cracking bone. He saw red, felt an uncontrollable burning hatred for the scum he was pulverizing, and in that moment, he knew that this must be how Jason felt each and every night. It gave him an all new understanding.
Looking back, he could not even recall how, or why it happened. All he knew was that one moment his fists were flying, mindless attacks being thrown at him from all angles, and in the next one of their knives were in his possession, and he was driving it straight into the handsy one's gut. As he twisted and removed the blade without batting a lash, those who could, scattered.
He stared down at his blood soaked gauntlet as the man gasped for air, blood dribbling from his lips as his took his final breaths. His heart hammered in his chest, shocked that he had done as he had, without a second thought.
Even more amazed that he was not disgusted with himself…
It was then that he had to admit to himself that he had lost it.
He spent the time between then and the police arriving laughing with the tears running down his face.
As he inevitably fled the scene, he tried not to think about whether or not this meant the Joker, and Talia, had both won.
Life went on, as he soon found out…
Nothing changed simply because he had killed again. His nightmares couldn't have gotten any worse than they had been previously. He didn't regret defending the boys, so young, with much life left to live if they lasted that long. It didn't make him anymore sick to his stomach than he already had been.
As Bruce had always said, it was far too easy to cross that line, so much harder to keep from going there at all.
It gave him a whole new perspective on both Damian and Jason, who had both tried explaining the why and how for so very long, how neither could wrap their minds around their aversion of killing… removing the criminals like the disease they were.
Granted, not everyone deserved death for their crimes, but there were most definitely those who could never be saved, that could only be put down to prevent them from destroying anymore innocent life, incarceration ineffective.
It took Damian's death for him to understand…
It was only a few nights after the warehouse incident that he found himself in a similar predicament, surrounded on all sides, escrima discarded on opposite sides of the enclosure, down to only his body as a weapon.
He had held out as long as possible, dodging bullets, blocking knives. When it came down to the last resort he was already tired, battered, uniform in shreds where blades had sliced through the fabric, thin lines of crimson painting his bared flesh.
He had no sooner confiscated a pistol from the nearest carrier, firing it point blank against its owner's chest, when the gunfire sounded from above.
It startled him to the point where he spun to face the source of the attack, finger on the trigger as he aimed it at the new assailant.
He found himself quickly slammed against the nearest wall, hands pinned beside his head as the gun was pried from his fingertips, leather glove frantically pulling at his domino as he thrashed panickedly.
"Whoa, dammit, calm the fuck down!"
It was only after the man spoke that Dick realized he was struggling against Jason's grasp.
Not a stranger.
Not in danger…
He awoke several hours later in his apartment, draped across the couch, head in Jason's lap.
He offered no explanation for his actions.
Jason never asked, only sat in silence, carding a hand through his hair as they stared off into the dark.
He was grateful... so very tired, mentally, and physically, leaning into the touch. He was simply glad for the familiarity after so long, consequences be damned.
Somehow he knew it would never get back to Bruce, that Jason would never tell. Jason understood, he could tell that much. Perhaps Jason even knew that he understood now as well.
He could only assume so when several days later, Jason was still at his side.
Jason stared blankly out at the dark open road as he drove, car silent other than the sound of their breathing as he gripped the wheel tightly.
It seemed to go on for hours… hell, might have actually, he hadn't been keeping track.
He glanced to his right where Dick sat curled up in the passenger's seat, eyes shut tight, but noticeably awake. The man's brow was furrowed and the tension in his posture gave away his nerves.
He sucked in a deep breath, releasing it in a ragged sigh.
"Regrets, Dick?" his tone was steady, but still cautious as his eyes flitted back and forth between the road and the man beside him.
Dick's eyes cracked open, and he tilted his head to meet the younger man's gaze.
"None." His voice was confident, strong, and it unnerved him as he tightened his grip on the wheel.
Jason snorted, shaking his head.
"You say that now…"
Dick turned away once more, averting his gaze, tightening his grip as he stared down at the child curled up in his lap, blankets bundled tightly around him. He slipped a hand into the soft black locks, still somewhat damp from earlier, and let a small smile spill across his lips, the first in ages.
He brushed his fingers over the boy's throat, taking comfort in the steady pulse beneath them. He sighed, burying his face in a bundled shoulder, inhaling deeply.
"No…" he murmured softly, snuggling against the warmth. "Always."
Jason swallowed thickly, nodding slightly as he put his full focus back on the road.
He could only hope he too felt the same way in the morning…
They walked through the long stretch of tunnel at an agonizingly slow pace, Jason in the lead, Dick just steps behind him cradling the bundle within his arms delicately, with a duffle slung over his shoulder.
Jason was heavily armed, more-so that usual, guns in hand with fingers ready at the triggers.
The silence was unnerving, and all telling, as they slunk along. They were no fools. They knew that their arrival had not come unnoticed. Such a feat was impossible given the ownership of the property.
The pair stayed on edge throughout the stretch of their journey, ready to bolt and fly into battle at the slightest provocation. It took well over an hour to reach their destination at their cautious pace, but it only took Jason mere seconds to release the locks upon the ornate doors.
The chamber was massive, overbearingly large. The humidity made the air thick, and Dick was surely not expecting the unnaturally sweet, yet musty scent to envelope them. Nothing like the pit he had run to with what he had thought had been Bruce's body so very long ago. The pool's acid green seemed to glow and reflect off of the stone walls, and no sound but the bubbling of the murky liquid filled the room.
Jason blocked his path, an arm outstretched in front of him, body tensed.
"Be prepared.." He muttered, eyes narrowing, flitting about the expanse of the room.
And Dick understood what went unsaid.
He gave a court, quick nod, and tensed, prepared to move at any second.
Jason stepped forward, crossing the thresh-hold into the chamber, and things happened so damned fast…
The ninja dropped by the dozens out of the shadows, spilling towards them in one fluid sweep, surround and destroy their only intent. Jason began firing at once, taking down as many as humanly possible as he cleared the way for Dick.
Dick bolted, rushing for the pit, diving out of the way of projectiles as he skidded across the stone floor to place the bundle at the pit's edge. They came up from behind, weapon's drawn, and he reacted in a split second, meeting their blades with his own, drawing Damian's katana from its sheath at his side.
The next several minutes were filled with nothing but gunfire and the clang of steel as blood was shed and spread throughout the room. Jason was in a full frenzy, and Dick was not holding back, not at all, especially not with these men and women who followed Ra's and Talia so blindly.
When the room was finally became silent once more, both men were a little worse for wear, bleeding from several lacerations littering their bodies, but nothing they would not recover from. The same could not be said for the bodies littering the ground, not unless the al Ghul's chose to spare them, which was highly unlikely. If any of them were still living, they hid it well as the two returned to the pit's edge, slowly unraveling the tightly wrapped cloth.
Dick could not suppress a shudder when Damian's face was uncovered, followed by the suit-clad body concealed within the rest of the binding. The nausea hit him like a ton of bricks as he stared down at the pale grey skin, and his vision swam. He would have to thank Kori later, for having retrieved, and wrapped him as such, otherwise they might not have made it this far. Although much of the plan had been Jason's doing, he hadn't been able to stomach messing with the grave himself, perhaps hitting to close to home for him. Roy had understandably sat this one out. He had expected things to be unbearably awkward between him and Kori, but quite simply, they had both moved on.
Jason placed a hand on his shoulder, forcing him to return to the present, and deal with the task at hand. They stripped the starched cloth from the boy's body, cringing at the wounds dealt before death that had been stitched haphazardly before burial. Retreating to the back of their minds, they tossed the body over the edge together, flinching as it made contact with the murky water.
Dick hadn't even realized he had grabbed hold of Jason's hand, until the younger man was squeezing it tightly in reassurance.
At first, Dick was so very afraid that this just wasn't going to work, that it had been far too easy, too perfect, when Damian kick-started beneath the surface, flailing frantically as he struggled within the water. Dick's heart-rate sky rocketed as he lurched forward, only to be stopped by Jason once more.
"Give it a moment… quite a bit of damage to undo…" He murmured, keeping his eyes on the boy.
It took every ounce of will power to be patient, to suppress the fear that the boy would drown, despite being in a pool that gave life. Jason's hand on his shoulder kept him steady, grounded, as he watched him thrash towards the surface. When Damian's fingers finally broke the surface, Jason moved.
Dick didn't give him a chance, lurching forward, dangling over the edge.
"Dick, maybe you shouldn't-" He tried, but it fell on deaf ears as the man shoved both arms beneath the water's surface.
With a sigh, he reached in as well, watching as the wounds up and down their arms bubbled and knitted together as they made contact. Dick managed to grab a hold first, clasping Damian's forearm as he pulled upward.
"Now, he's going to be-"
Jason was cut off once more as Dick gave a strong tug and Damian's head broke the surface. The boy's eyes were wild as he let out an ear piercing scream and began clawing at the air. Both he and Dick nearly slipped over the edge as Damian gripped at their clothes, pulling himself forcefully from the pit, and Jason was sure he wasn't imagining his heart stuttering when he caught himself. He dragged Dick backwards, Damian landing in a heap on the older man's chest before trying to launch himself across the room, much to Dick's distress.
Damian snarled ferally as Dick latched onto his arm, dragging him back into his embrace, thrashing in the man's grip as he roared. Dick struggled to keep him under control, pinning his arms to his side, all the while clinging to the boy.
"Nonononono It's okay, I've got you- I'm here, you're here…" He murmured shakily, rocking him as he rubbed at his back.
Jason could only sit back and watch, heart hammering in his chest as Dick attempted to calm the boy, all the while wondering if any damage had been caused to them by reaching in themselves.
He was already compromised, but Dick? He wasn't so sure that any contact with the pit in his state had been a good idea…
Damian's nails dug into Dick's flesh as his chest heaved. His eyes were still wide with terror, but Jason could see the madness leaving them, and recognition slowly coming upon him. Dick continued murmuring in the boy's ears, holding him tightly to his chest as he rocked back and forth gently.
After a few minutes Damian stopped struggling, his eyes drooping slightly instead of bulging as the exhaustion set in.
"-'son?" He eventually croaked out, gripping at Dick's shoulders as the man let out a ragged sigh.
"Y-yeah…yeah I'm here…" He cooed, snuggling into the boy's neck with relief.
" Am I…?"
"Yeah, you are, you're here."
"Yes Dami, safe… they can't hurt you. I'll never let them hurt you again kiddo… promise."
Damian seemed content with that answer, slumping in the man's arms, letting everything go as he nodded off in his grasp. They went to work quickly, pulling the blankets out from within the duffle bag, wrapping them tightly around his damp body.
They left as quickly as possible, not bothering to sneak back through the tunnels as they raced away from the complex towards the vehicle they had hidden earlier in the night.
Once they were out of country they would meet back up with Kori and Roy and they would be home free. Neither were entirely sure what would happen after that, but the important thing was that Dami was back, and Dick was so very happy…
Jason was sure of it.