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Private things that go thump in the night

Discussion in 'Pandora, Year 1 - 7' started by Damian Wayne, Aug 4, 2018.

  1. Damian Wayne

    Damian Wayne DC Universe

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    JULY 15th, Y7

    @Cassandra Cain

    The entire family had to have grown used to Damian slipping in and out by now. He never let them know when he was coming, nor did he tell them when he was leaving. Every so often, he would just simply...appear without explanation and disappear days later just the same. As the months passed, his little visits grew more and more frequent until it was almost once a week or so that he could be caught lurking somewhere in the Wayne Penthouse like a stray cat making itself at home.

    (Though the metaphor stopped making sense once someone pointed out it was his home. It had just taken him over a year to feel welcome there.)

    However, when Drake had gotten injured a month prior, his visits came to a sudden stop. Damian only came to Pandora Town to visit the hospital as reluctant atonement for his mistake and if his father called for Robin to be at his side. Beyond that, he avoided his family and anyone that was about to point a self righteous finger at him for messing things up again.

    Tonight, however, was different. A dinner at Wayne Industries meant the house was going to be empty, and so after a little precursory detective work to make sure of it, Damian felt confident slipping through the security system and leaving his boots in a heap near the door. He rummaged through the fridge and gave a new painting on the wall a critical look -- the fact that they would find it later in the garbage was circumstantial evidence -- and he even pocketed one of his father's spare credit cards for an animal shelter he knew of that desperately needed a new wing. And when he was finished mulling about, he knelt down in front of the sizable entertainment area and starting flicking through DVDs. The rejects were tossed carelessly to the side, of course, and with the amount of drivel people used to amuse themselves, there were plenty of rejects.

    And then, naturally, Damian got the prickling sensation on the back of his neck that perhaps he wasn't as alone as he anticipated.

    "Has no one really considered putting a bell on you yet, Cain?" Damian muttered with an arched eyebrow, already surly that he'd gotten snuck up on. Still, he didn't turn around or even glance in her direction as he tossed a musical away. Grayson's, obviously. "We could procure you a nice pink one if you so wished."


     
  2. Cassandra Cain

    Cassandra Cain DC Universe

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    When Damian arrived in Pandora, days-long visits to the family were few and far between, each one slightly alarming in how he’d manage to completely sneak in past her notice -though the latter made a bit of sense as he was by the League of Shadows for much the same purpose she was and nearly as good. As his visits grew more frequent over time, however, she more confident at predicting when he’d come, feeling vindicated when she took care to pay more attention to her surroundings and some nights feel an extra presence, followed by Damian casually eating breakfast at the table the morning after.

    And then, he’d stopped. Now, being likely the weakest detective in the family, she couldn’t say anything for certain, but Tim’s injury and Damian’s sudden absences felt suspicious to her, but she never pressed either for an answer. He certainly wasn’t dead or gone, or she’d know about it, which left a big question mark as far as he was concerned.

    So imagine her surprise when Damian Wayne reappeared once more. This time, he seemed to make no effort in hiding his presence, making far too much noise for someone trying to sneak around. In fact, she was sure normal people could have a hard time not noticing him. He seemed… distracted wasn’t the right word. She couldn’t find the word for it. Whatever he was, he was different. Still, she couldn’t help but feel a certain amount of pride when he finally noticed behind him. At his words, she let a soft sigh pass through her nose. At least he was just as rude.

    “Think of it as training,”
    she replied, approaching him slowly. “I’ve been following you the past five minutes.” It wasn’t true, of course, but he wasn’t likely to believe her, no matter what she said, and maybe it would keep him on his toes. But if he did, all the better. “We’ve missed you, Damian. It’s been lonely without your surprise visits.” Her attempt at the sort of light-hearted joking-but-not-really-joking tone Dick sometimes took fell a bit short.
     
  3. Damian Wayne

    Damian Wayne DC Universe

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    Damian's quiet, suspicious glare really said it all. She'd been following him for five entire minutes? Not possible. He couldn't have gotten that rusty...could he have? He averted his eyes from the girl in a rather surly manner and didn't respond to it regardless -- he'd have a lot of training and conditioning to do if that were the case.

    "Somehow, I don't quite believe that," he stated with his back turned once more. "What are you even doing there? Shouldn't you be with Father being paraded around to his colleagues?" Another DVD was tossed out of his hands to the growing pile of rejects to his side. Most of them were comedies, musicals, cartoons, and even a few scifi. It almost seemed like he was going to make his way through the whole collection before he found one he liked, but then...Damian slowed and stopped.

    Without a word, he started picking up the ones he'd tossed out and putting them back. It was easy to make it seem like he'd never been there from his photographic memory, though if Batman looked carefully, there would still be disturbed dust patterns that Damian could do little about.

    "If you wouldn't tell Father that I was here, it would be appreciated," Damian said stiffly and quietly. "I should be getting back soon."

     
  4. Cassandra Cain

    Cassandra Cain DC Universe

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    Cassandra sighed at his response. Yep, he was definitely still as rude as ever. Hopefully that was a good sign. “No, I… I don’t usually go with him to those things,” she said quietly. She was never exceptionally comfortable in anything that didn’t include pants or shorts of some kind, and she would only be good with Bruce at those events he so often went to if she didn’t bother to speak, and it just generally wasn’t where she was the most comfortable. Plus, she had learned enough about general eti… etik….. manners, to know that her table manners were probably still lacking.

    She watched his attitude change fairly quickly. Whether it was her words or his own thoughts she couldn’t decide yet. Regardless, she placed a gentle hand on Damian’s shoulder as he slowly began to pick up the movies he’d haphazardly tossed to the side and place them back on the shelf. “I won’t tell him,” she replied. “But you have to tell me what happened. You want to be here, Damian, I can see it. But you’re beating yourself up over something, and I want to know what it is.”

    She pursed her lips; Damian wasn’t the type to really talk about his feelings, but that was fine. She could see through whatever act he tried to put up, because that’s what she did, but she’d never know exactly what he was thinking unless he told her. In fact, the only time she’d seen him this shaken since Christmas. Out of everyone in their family he was the one she knew the least about, mostly because of the distance he kept between himself and anyone who wasn’t Bruce, but she also felt like she knew him better than anyone else in the family. There was an undeniable kinship between the two of them, especially: they were the only two raised by killers to be killers, the only two who had killed before even hitting puberty -hell, they were both supposed to join the League of Assassins when they became ready!

    She just hoped that he also felt that bond, and trusted her enough as a sibling to tell her what he was feeling. It was worth a try, at least.
     
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  5. Damian Wayne

    Damian Wayne DC Universe

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    "Tch," Damian grumbled, continuing to avoid her eyes. His spine was stiff and his expression was carefully reserved. "You presume I need a reason other than your presence to not wish to stay here." Of course, the young Boy Wonder's tone was venomous as ever, but even he couldn't mask his body language enough to beat her.

    There was the tight set to his jaw. The way he almost subconsciously seemed to lean into himself -- not exactly curling, but keeping his front angled away from her as if protecting his underbelly. His brows were knit just faintly together, and despite his efforts to keep his expression neutral, there was almost too much effort put into his blase demeanor for it to seem genuine.

    All in all, it would've been obvious to her that he was defensive about something, even if he wasn't being forthcoming about exactly what. He didn't feel welcome in the space after being caught 'red handed.' And his eyes kept flickering towards a horror movie on the shelf, but he didn't make any move to pull it back out.

    "Shouldn't you be visiting Drake instead?" Damian asked stiffly.

     
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  6. Cassandra Cain

    Cassandra Cain DC Universe

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    Her lips formed a fine line. His words were mean, almost hurtful, but she had heard worse. For all the venom and all the bluster, none of it fooled her. Everything about him was reminding her of a wounded animal lashing out, but he was too proud to even admit that. And she wasn’t going to call him out on his behavior directly, she knew doing that would only drive him away further. “It’s never stopped you before,” she replied, softly. Though she said that, this was a different situation; he’d snuck in with the expectation of being alone, clearly, and now that she was here his plan had fallen apart.

    “I’ll visit Tim later,” Cassandra said, her voice still soft but now with an undercurrent of hardness to it. “I’m sure Stephanie’s right there by his side now, too, so we have time to talk.” She picked up on the subtle turning of his head indicating that his attention kept being drawn to the shelf. Lowering herself until she was crouching beside him, Cassandra glanced over at her adoptive brother. “You’re looking for a movie to watch? There’s some here I haven’t seen before.”
     
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  7. Damian Wayne

    Damian Wayne DC Universe

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    Damian's eyes narrowed at her, though he stayed stubbornly silent. It had stopped him before, thank you very much. Perhaps if Father hadn't been so insistent on taking the side of the misplaced orphans over the side of his real son, he would've spent much more time here since the very beginning. But that was just another reason he had to remember that this wasn't his father -- a man who loved him and Grayson enough to be content with just the two of them. This version of him was just...an adequate substitute for the time being.

    "And I thought Drake was miserable enough already," he deadpanned at the thought of the irritating blonde who had added herself to the menagerie despite his best efforts to prevent that. Damian just wanted everyone to understand that under no circumstances was he ever going to call her his sister.

    He frowned with pursed lips when Cain joined him in the floor. However, moving away would've been like admitting defeat, or even worse, admitting that it made him uncomfortable. He wasn't like an insect that went skittering away the second something else stepped near. No, he was Batman's heir, and if anyone had a right to be here, it was him.

    Right?

    "It's mostly drivel anyways," he declared with crossed arms. "Before..." He waved his hand. "All of this, my Father was in the process of showing me the classics."

     
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  8. Cassandra Cain

    Cassandra Cain DC Universe

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    She rolled her eyes at Damian’s remark. It figured that he wouldn’t take too kindly to Stephanie; he barely took to anyone in their ‘family’, and her boundless enthusiasm probably didn’t sit too well with him. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d almost think you were sorry for him,” she said in her best ‘I’m teasing you’ voice. Besides, he’d warm to her, just as everyone else did. It would just take longer in his case.

    Far, far longer.

    “Anyway, he’ll be fine,” Cassandra continued. “Unlike you, Tim actually likes Steph. They even used to date.”

    She could tell that being in such close proximity to her made him antsy, nervous, but she couldn’t really tell why. Guilt? She could see that on him, certainly. Regardless, she did her best to be as unobtrusive and non-threatening as possible as he explained to her that his version of Bruce had been exposing him to “the classics”, whatever that meant to him. “I see…” she muttered, browsing what was left on the shelf. Some of these she had bought herself with what little money she used from what Bruce gave her. It was one of those she reached for and slid off the shelf to hold. On the front of the cover was a grotesque-looking alien, its teeth bared threateningly. It almost looked ready to jump out and attack them. “Has he shown you this yet?” she asked.
     
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  9. Damian Wayne

    Damian Wayne DC Universe

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    Damian shot her a flat look which turned into a slight grimace at the thought of the two as a...couple. Egh. "I always feel pity for Drake," he proclaimed haughtily. "I heard he was the only Robin to simply not be able to keep his job. He and Brown deserve each other in that regard." And besides, he did push the boy off a roof and nearly to his death. Grayson would insist to him that feeling guilt over it was healthy.

    Not that Grayson insisted anything to him very much these days.

    As Cass browsed through the shelf in front of him, Damian crossed his arms and watched her with a cautious look. As usual, he wished he had his hood on to pull over his head. Not to hide or anything close to the sort, but for...tactical maneuverability. Yes. That was why.

    The boy gave the movie in her hand a skeptical glance when she presented it to him. "That's not your idea of a classic, is it?" he asked, his lips curling in disgust. "I doubt you got much education in the fine arts on whatever street Father found you in a cardboard box on, but those effects look cheaper than Todd's hair."

    A beat passed them by with Damian's head stubbornly turned away. But then, he was unable to resist taking another peek at it, strangely drawn in by the ugly ridges of its teeth and the unnaturally sleek slope of its face. And...something horrible clicked with realization.

    "I've seen one of those before," he told Cain, snatching the movie out of her hand to hold it up. "Or something very much like it, here in Pandora. Father and I defeated it, and then we buried underneath a few tons of rubble for good measure."

     
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  10. Cassandra Cain

    Cassandra Cain DC Universe

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    “They’re better at what they do than you think,” Cassandra said simply, tersely. She was doing her best to tolerate Damian’s irritating attitude as she had most other times, and normally she could keep a cool head and simply brush off his insults. But the fact that he was insulting her friends –her BEST friends— right to her face without any sort of thought to her feelings was testing her, even if she knew that was just how he interacted with people. “Besides, it wasn’t his fault. It was neither of theirs…” she muttered the last part quietly, under her breath. She’d remembered the look on Stephanie’s face when the blonde told her about Tim’s quiet retirement from being Robin because his parents needed his help; the joy in her posture when she informed her that, in Tim’s absence, Bruce had picked the blonde girl as the next Robin. Then, the despair and heartbreak on that same face not too long afterwards, after Batman had apparently declared her unfit and fired her, and the chaos of the War Games that spun out of the aftermath. It wasn’t their fault.

    But Damian probably didn’t know that; they weren’t even from the same version of their world, and since the boy didn’t often to make a conscious effort to understand them, he couldn’t. Just as he couldn’t know how much of an open wound her education (or lack thereof) was and how close his guess had come. In fact, it was all she could do to not crush the case in her grasp out of sheer bodily stiffness. He didn’t mean it,’ she reminded herself mentally. He doesn’t know how much that hurts. He’s your little brother. He’s Bruce’s son. He’s hurting too. You can’t punch him. He didn’t mean it.’ She almost didn’t react when Damian moved to the movie from her hands, only reacting quickly enough to loosen her grasp so he wouldn’t have to pry it from her.

    His words interrupted her focus on her calming mantra. She turned to face him, a look of skepticism on her face. He wasn’t lying. He’d fought an Alien before? “Really.” Her tone was flat, but not disbelieving. More incredulous than anything. The idea that something like that creature had been a part of Pandora (and might still be a part of it) was hard to believe, but Damian certainly believed that he’d seen it before. And as much as she didn’t want to acknowledge it… was that the faintest hint jealousy she was feeling toward her bratty brother?
     
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  11. Damian Wayne

    Damian Wayne DC Universe

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    Damian eyed Cass sideways, lips pursed as his metaphorical fur bristled. He was so used to feeling good when he put others in their place, but the aggravation he could sense radiating off of Cain just made him...uncomfortable.

    He didn't like being uncomfortable.

    Whether people believed it or not, he'd gotten marginally better at communicating after becoming a Titan, but every now and then -- or often -- he slipped up. They lingered in silence for a moment after his outburst about the alien as he gripped the movie case in his hands, trying to force an apology out his unwilling throat. But no matter how much he glared, it wasn't coming anytime soon.

    Hell, he wasn't even sure what he would be apologizing for.

    "If this is your choice for the night," he finally declared in his own version of a peace offering, "then so be it." Stiffly, he rose from the floor and went about setting it up in the DVD player, glancing at Cass over his shoulder every so often with an unreadable look. It was almost like he was checking that she was still there, one way or another.

     
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  12. Cassandra Cain

    Cassandra Cain DC Universe

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    Even though she was still trying to calm herself down, Cassandra couldn't not notice Damian's reaction. He'd noticed, and let his own metaphorical hackles rise in defense. It wasn't too surprising, as she didn't exactly do a stellar job in restraining her intent. Naturally, someone like Damian would have been able to pick up on it, though the fact that he... seemed to care about how his words had affected her was new.

    And to be honest, she almost didn't care. Despite how mature or aloof she might have seemed, she was still fairly vulnerable emotionally in matters that weren't her birth parents, and she didn't take kindly to being insulted or mocked for what she considered her biggest weakness, and she tended to hold a grudge. Luckily for all, not many people had the bad sense to do that, and she'd matured since the last time it happened. The anger towards her younger brother began to fade away at a slightly less glacial speed than it would have if she'd been any younger, and if he'd been anyone else.

    Still, she wasn't entirely certain what to say in this situation. Damian had managed to break the awkward silence that had fallen between them by agreeing to watch the movie, but she was pretty sure he was doing it for her sake. "Thanks," she said tersely, her body still tense as she rose and headed out to the kitchen. "Popcorn?" she called over her shoulder, distinctly choosing not to look at him as she did so. "I can make another bowl for you."
     
    #12 Cassandra Cain, Nov 5, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
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  13. Damian Wayne

    Damian Wayne DC Universe

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    Hm, it seemed his best attempts at cordiality were falling flat. Damian crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow, appearing to be in thought for a few moments before giving her a decisive nod. “Popcorn will do.”

    It didn’t occur to him that a simple ‘sure, thanks’ to make him seem more like a real boy rather than a wooden automaton would’ve done wonders.

    Damian hung over the arm of the couch as he watched Cain get the popcorn together, lips pursed with his scrutiny. “How do you know Father?” he finally asked. Sure, he’d heard plenty of things about it, but none of them from his father or the girl herself. And it looked as if referring to it as him ‘finding her in a cardboard box’ appeared to make her….touchy.


     
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  14. Cassandra Cain

    Cassandra Cain DC Universe

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    Alright, two bowls of popcorn it was. He could have said ‘please’ or ‘thank you’, but the fact he hadn’t demanded it was good enough. In no time at all Cassandra gathered two of Bruce's extra-large bowls and a couple of bags of popcorn, shoved one of the latter in the microwave, and set it to pop. They’d have a couple of minutes for it to finish, so there was time to kill before they could get to the movie.

    Damian must have realized it as well, as he eventually decided to speak up once more, this time with a question. And it was in no way disparaging or even slightly insulting. Did he… really want to know about her? “How do I know him?” She repeated, her lips pursing in thought as she thought about how to answer. “I was Batgirl for years. Before Stephanie and after Oracle –after Barbara. Before that… Did Gotham become a No Man’s Land in your world?” Bruce --the version of him that was here, anyway-- didn't remember it, so it probably hadn't happened for him. She wasn't quite sure how common the incident was across other versions of Gotham, so it seemed prudent to ask if Damian had ever heard of the incident.
     
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  15. Damian Wayne

    Damian Wayne DC Universe

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    "No Man's Land?" Damian repeated, tilting his head. He could deduce vaguely just from its name that she was referring to a state where Gotham had fallen, and he curiously wondered what sort of threat could even possibly be strong enough to defeat his father like that. "No, I've never heard any mention of that in Father's case files."

    And if something like that had happened, he doubted it would be under his nose, anyways.

    "It does, however, make sense that Father and his bleeding heart would rescue an orphan or two during an event like that," he commented with a faint tone of exasperation as if he was talking about a boy bringing home a stray cat.

     
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  16. Cassandra Cain

    Cassandra Cain DC Universe

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    Ah, so it was just in her world that No Man's Land happened. Cool. Super great. Honestly, she couldn't tell if the fact that one of the most influential events in her life seemed to be exclusive to her world was something to take pride in or not. Still, she couldn't help but sigh at the snippy retort Damian couldn't help but make.

    "I'm not an orphan," she replied evenly. "Just a runaway. And I just happened to be in Gotham when an earthquake isolated it from the rest of the world. I worked as a..." she paused, trying to find the right word, "courier for Barbara, because I had nowhere else to go. He was... he wasn't sure about me. He had a hard time understanding me at first." She didn't really need to say who 'he' was, because she figured they both knew. "But Barbara, uh... vouched for me. And then I saved Commissioner Gordon from being assassinated, and... some other stuff happened while he let me be Batgirl, uh... temporarily. Then I did well enough that he let me keep the title."
     
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