@damianwayneweek Day 2 (6-14): Undercover | Sibling rivalry | Damian having a nice day
Warnings: Mentions of trafficking, threats, violence, attempted kidnapping, injuries, healthy doses of angst
Note: hahahahaha once again I'm begging you all to pretend I posted this when it's still the 14th somewhere in the world. Please enjoy.
Damian didn't mean to get caught. Honest. As annoying as it is, he understands that there are certain parts of their nightlife that have to be handled by an adult. Going undercover, for one, is usually something that's left to Grayson. It's easier for adults to blend into some things than it is for... well... Teenagers.
Children, as Grayson would say. Even though Damian is not a child.
Not that it matters, however. Grayson, for the past week, has been putting off their normal patrols to get insider information on a recent underground trafficking scheme. Grayson has been working hard to find the people responsible for this and get on the inside to find where the victims are being kept and Damian had respected that. He's kept to the sidelines and worked on other cases that don't require so much adult delicacy.
The only issue was that tonight he ended up getting bored. There wasn't anything for him to do, and that butler wasn't giving him any useful suggestions to fill his time. He wasn't allowed to patrol alone while Grayson was undercover, but escaping through his bedroom window in a dark hoodie was simple enough.
One thing leads to another. He ended up walking into an alleyway where a man was getting rather forceful with a drunk woman. Damian was jogging forward and calling him out on the disgusting behavior before he even realized he recognized the profile of the man.
Grayson turned from the woman with wide, horrified eyes, not moving a muscle even as the woman slipped from beside him and rushed back into the bar's side door.
"Shit," is all Grayson said before more people came out from the shadows, and Damian realizes he's just stumbled upon Grayson's undercover work.
Damian, for all of his training, has no idea what to do as he's suddenly grabbed by one of the newcomers. He's just witnessed Grayson in his undercover work... attempting to kidnap a woman... and he shouldn't be here.
"The fuck did this brat come from," the man grabbing Damian sneers.
Damian reacts instinctively now, slamming his elbow back into their gut. The man wheezes and weakens his hold. Damian then ducks under a new pair of arms making a mad grab for him and is sure to trip them over onto the cement ground as they stumble past.
A beefier man charges at Damian like a bull, and he prepares to retaliate... only for Grayson to grab him by his arm and shove Damian behind his back.
"Wait," Grayson gasps, bringing his free hand up in front of him. The man stops in his tracks, as do all the others. "It's my... brother."
"Your brother?" A woman scoffs, and Grayson gives her a hard look.
A mean looking man steps forward, glaring daggers at Grayson. "What's he doin' here Malone? Thought'chu said you weren't followed."
"I'm sorry," Grayson says, sounding panicked. Damian wants to jump out from behind Grayson and give these kidnappers a piece of his mind. There can't be more than seven of them. Damian can take them with his hands tied behind his back. Grayson must sense this, because he tightens his hold on his arm. "I thought he was at home."
"Well, he wasn't," the man snarls. "And now that bitch is probably in there telling the barkeep some guy got handsy with her."
Grayson shakes his head. "She isn't. I paid off the barkeep. If we calm down, I can go back in there and finish the job. Danny here won't say anything, he knows what we have to do to survive these streets. Right, Danny?"
Damian's lips thin, but he nods. Damian doesn't know why Richard is acting all frightful right now. Has he forgotten the legacy of Damian's father that he holds? He carries the name of Batman, yet here he is looking like a frightened animal in front of these low-lives. He wants to argue and take down these imbeciles... but if there's one thing he's learned while in his ever lengthening stay in Gotham, Grayson usually has a reason for everything he does. If he thinks they need to act like they're frightened, then Damian will humor him. For now.
The man looks down from Grayson and gives Damian a narrowed look. It lasts only a moment before he looks at the bar side-door and... smirks?
He looks back at Grayson, keeping that smirk. "Alright, Malone. I'll take you up on that offer. You get the bitch, and we'll take care of Danny."
A bad feeling settles in Damian's gut. The hand on his arm tightens even more, proof that Grayson has the same bad feeling. They don't have a chance to say anything about it, however, before the man strides forward and grabs Damian by his other arm; yanking him away from Grayson and towards the big man.
Grayson shoots them a murderous glare, but doesn't come to Damian's aid as the big man tightens both of his hands on Damian's biceps. His pointer fingers press just under his shoulders, and he swears his pinkies wrap close to Damian's elbows.
"Go on," the talkative man says, jerking his head to the door, showing his rotting teeth in a grin. "Get the bitch."
Grayson shoots a look Damian's way, then nods. "Okay," he says placidly. "Okay." He turns his back and starts towards the door.
Then, the man looks at another in their group and nods his head. The man's cheeks rise like a Cheshire cat before he starts towards Grayson, raising a fist.
"Grayson! Look out!" Damian shouts. Grayson, for his part, reacts immediately. He ducks under the blow and side steps his attacker.
However, that's all Damian sees before the man that has him in his grasp changes position quite suddenly so that Damian is practically hanging in his grasp—an arm the size of a log wrapped around his neck. Damian's hands fly to the arm and he attempts to kick his feet for purchase. His air is already cut off, and he curses himself for getting in a situation like this.
He stills, however, when something cold and metal is pressed against his head by the man's free hand. Through blurry eyes and choking gasps, he notices Grayson has gone still too.
"I knew you were fishy," the man from before cackled. "Grayson? That your real name?"
Grayson glares, but doesn't move.
"Here's what's gonna happen, you're gon let us do whatever we want wit'cha, and maybe we'll let the kid live after."
And just like that, Grayson is at the receiving end of a savage blow to his jaw from another member of the group. Grayson stumbles and clutches his jaw, but he doesn't fight back even as another jumps in and throws their own punch. Damian can already see blood dripping down his cheek from a cut in the skin.
He's hit again, and he continues to not fight back. Damian knows he'll take the beating, even though he can easily take them down. He won't risk the gun pressed against Damian's head. He won't risk the arm wrapped so right around Damian's neck it feels like he's breathing through a coffee straw.
A particularly savage punch has Grayson falling to the floor, scraping his hands, elbows, and knees on the rough and suspiciously wet asphalt. Damian growls and digs his nails into the arms of his captor, but they tighten the grip threateningly and his struggles are forced to come to a stop.
Pathetic. Idiotic. Childish. This is Damian's fault. Every blow that hits Grayson's body as punches are replaced by kicks might as well be dealt by Damian himself.
He argues with Grayson. Calls him out on not acting how his father would. He calls him incompetent, insignificant, idiotic... but some time these past few weeks the bite he means to carry with those words have turned fond.
He... He likes Grayson. He's the first person to show Damian unconditional kindness... other than his own mother. While being stuck here with him rather than his own father had, at first, been miserable and annoying... it's turned out to be... fun. For the first time in his life, he almost feels like a normal kid with Grayson here to lead him along the way.
Damian wonders at night if that's what his mother intended. Why she hasn't taken him back yet.
He doesn't mind it. He likes the time that he spends with Grayson now, even if he would never admit it. And here he is, helpless and unarmed as Grayson is being beaten to a bloody pulp all because Damian couldn't listen to instructions and snuck out when he shouldn't have.
For a moment, pure terror fills Damian's veins that he's most likely going to witness the death of Grayson tonight. If he tries to fight his captor, he'll get a bullet in his brain. If Grayson decides to fight back, then Damian would die anyways. Grayson wouldn't do that. He would rather die himself.
Another blow hits Grayson's body, and he lays on the ground and groans, unmoving for a worrying few seconds.
Then, the bar door slams open and the woman from before runs out with fire in her dark eyes. No one has a chance to do anything before she kicks the main guy in the jaw, sending him down to the floor with more force than any woman... or man... should have.
Damian doesn't question it. The rest of them are distracted by her sudden entrance, and Damian uses that to his advantage. He throws his hands up and grabs at his captor's distracted face and claws at his eyes. The man yowls and drops Damian, leaving Damian completely free to make his own attack. He easily disarms him and jumps onto his back, wrapping his own arms around the man's neck and squeezing as tightly as he can.
It's all over in a matter of seconds. The man falls unconscious in Damian's grasp, and the woman finishes taking out the others.
She was in on this whole thing too, Damian realizes as she rushes towards Grayson's still form and grabs his arm.
Grayson blinking slowly at her through already bruising eyes and whispering "Donna..." is all the proof Damian needs to confirm his suspicion.
"I got you, boy wonder," Donna says fondly. She helps him to his feet and wraps his arm firmly around her shoulders, helping him stand. She looks at Damian. "You got a way to get us out of here, squirt? The cops are gonna be on their way any minute."
"What-" Damian starts, then pauses. Shame fills his gut. "What about the mission?"
"It's fine," Grayson says with a pained strain in his voice. "They're low in the chain. Won't be missed in prison. Can't give much away. I'll-" he cuts off to gasp as Donna shifts her hold on him. "I'll just try again later."
Damian nods, but the guilt doesn't leave. He looks away from Grayson and Donna to pull out his phone and request Pennyworth send the Batmobile to their position.
The entire way back to the manor is filled with tense silence, broken only by Grayson's hissed curses and groans as Donna helps give immediate first aid to the worst of the bruises and cuts.
Damian... he messed up. He disobeyed Richard and ruined the mission. This woman, Donna, is a better companion to Grayson than Damian ever was. Or will be. They get along. She's kind. She was trusted enough by Grayson to bring her in on his solo mission, and she clearly trusted him enough to go along with it and let herself be captured.
Grayson will never trust him as much as her. He's... He's fucked it all up. He won't want Damian around anymore. He'll want to send him back to the League, and if his mother and grandfather don't take him then his suit and the name of Robin must surely now be forfeit.
Drake will take back the suit, and Damian will forever be left behind by the man he thought... He hoped...
Sitting by his bedside after assisting Pennyworth in dressing Grayson's wounds... he mulls these thoughts over in his head. Grayson is fast asleep, and Donna has retreated upstairs for a shower and dinner by Pennyworth's insistence.
Then, as he's considering leaving so he's not the first thing Grayson sees when he wakes up, a hand grabs hold onto his.
"Don't blame yourself," Grayson whispers, blinking through his puffed up and exhausted eyes. Damian wonders how long he's been sitting here with his thoughts and when Grayson started to awaken without him noticing. "You have the same look in your eyes... That B always did..."
Heat flairs behind Damian's eyelids. He bursts. "But this is my fault. If I hadn't gone out- if I had listened-"
Suddenly, his hand is jerked, and Damian is dragged onto the cot and into Grayson's arms. He attempts to fight the hold, but Grayson holds tight despite his injuries.
"Mistakes happen," Grayson says, "they always do. I will never give up on you, Dames. No matter how many you make. Trust me on that."
He sounds so very much in pain, but he's relentless in his hold. All Damian can do is stop his struggling and lay in Grayson's grasp. His brain studies the words said to him, and his heart wants to believe him. Guilt pools to his throat and he opens his mouth to let it out before he can stop himself.
"I'm sorry," he chokes. He doesn't know when he started to return the hold Grayson had him in. His hands are bunched in the material of Grayson's shirt.
Grayson shushes him. "It's okay," he says. "What's done is done, and we've learned. We're okay. I got you."
And perhaps it's the moment of weakness, but Damian can't help but believe him.
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