Other Fan Fiction ❯ Range of Motion ❯ Is That Your Question? ( Chapter 1 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Challenge response: Robin from batman and 'A fistfight'
The robot hit the floor with a squeal of abused electronics
"Computer, fresh opponent!" rasped a voice.
The electronic response was muffled against the dripping of the stalactites. It had rained in the upper watershed and now it was raining underground.
"Well then find me something else!"
The small figure folded its arms and practically growled at the screen. "And don't think for a second you snuck up on me, Grayson," he said without turning around. "I knew you were there as soon as you sloshed out of the submarine pit."
"You're bluffing. I took the pole," answered Nightwing.
"And squealed like a thirteen-year-old girl the whole way down."
"Finally hanging out with people your own age?"
"Kindly get to the point," Damien glowered. "I'm trying to train, and it seems our state-of-the-art stronghold has run out of materials."
"That's nothing." Nightwing cocked his head. "Back in the day, we kept running out of triple-ply, and that was right after Condiment King poisoned half the attendees at the GCPD charity gala." He shook his head. "At least I never had to wear that short-pants tuxedo again."
"While your gastrointestinal shortcomings never fail to enrich my life, Grayson, I need to find another way to practice."
Nightwing dropped back into a boxer's stance, both fists in the air.
"You're not serious," muttered Damien. "Father would be cross with me if I broke your femurs."
"From what I hear, he's cross already," Nightwing answered, advancing. He stifled a smile as Damien slipped into a defensive stance.
"I hardly see how that's your business," he snipped, sliding easily side to side as Nightwing tossed him some easy punches.
"Uh huh, let's make a deal," said Nightwing, ducking under Damien's hookkick. "Every time I land one, you have to answer a question."
"What do I get—" Damien leaped forward with a sidekick as Nightwing slipped back again, "—when I beat you to death?"
"Doesn't matter. What do you want?"
Damien snorted from low stance. "To be determined."
"Deal." Nightwing checked. "Why do I feel like I just went up against a Sicilian when death was on the line?"
"I have no idea," answered Damien.
The practice room couldn't keep them contained. Damien backed Nightwing out across the catwalks over the Bat-sub, feet thrumming against the metal mesh.
Damien's eyes narrowed as he ducked back from a jab, dropping from the catwalk to the cave floor below. Nightwing spun after him, adding length to the jump, enough to pin the corner of Damien's cape against the wall with the ball of his foot.
"Counts," said Nightwing. "Why're you so off your game?"
"Is that your question?" glowered Damien.
Damien pulled the cape free with a sharp tug. "I'm not."
Next time was in the trophy room. Damien ducked a cross and came back with an uppercut, but Nightwing jumped up to grab the T-Rex's fist and swung a kick that thumped the R on Robin's chest.
"Why the short pants in the Robin costume?" he asked, swinging in place from both hands. "Jason and Tim both went long."
Damien jumped up and sidekicked Dick right into the giant penny.
"Full range of motion."
The batcomputer was quiet. No phones rang. Bruce and Alfred hadn't come looking, so the fight went on. The air was nothing but breath and calculation the rasps of lace-up boots and thin-soled acro shoes against rock and concrete.
Damien dodged but not enough, and one right cross grazed his ear.
"Why's your dad so pissed at you?"
Damien's eyes narrowed as he shoved Dick's arm away. "Don't you mean our dad?"
"Between you and me?" Nightwing asked.
Damien frowned, lowering his fists.
"Between you and me, no," said Dick.
"No what?" asked Damien.
"No I never thought of Bruce as my dad," said Nightwing. "You ask me if we're family, I say yes, but I had a father, a good one. Bruce could never replace him and if you ask him he'll tell you he never tried."
Damien looked to the side.
"You got to remember that we all ended up here for different reasons. Bruce was still pretty young when he took me in, about the same age I am now. A kid, but one who'd seen some of the same things he had, could be something more like a partner for him. Dynamic Duo. I figured things would go more fifty-fifty between us when I got older, and maybe that was the plan at first. By the time Jason came around, things were different. Jason was different. So he had to be different too."
Damien seemed absorbed in the shadows on the other side of the cave.
"Tim was a reminder for him. Tim was someone old enough and smart enough to protect the city without needing too much from Bruce. That let him heal after Jason. Tim kept him on track." He shook his head. "I couldn't have done it, not even if I'd come back to Gotham full-time."
Damien nodded stiffly. "I see. A debt is owed."
A rock fell free and smashed against the cave floor.
"Father's angry because I didn't want to go to Drake's funeral."
Dick nodded. "I can see that."
"I don't want to go."
Dick put his hand on Damien's arm. "Why not?"
"I miss Drake being alive," he said. "He was never here."
"Bruce misses him. I do too," said Nightwing.
"He's Tim's legal father."
"You didn't show up and find her standing where you thought you should be?"
Damien ducked under Nightwing's arm and dropped into a spin, knocking Dick's legs out from underneath him, landing on his back with the wind knocked out of him. Damien landed hard on Dick's chest, fist drawn back.
"Don't try to psychoanalyze me, Grayson. I was schooled in the science when you were still picking elephant dung."
Dick breathed painfully. "Is that your question?"
Damien's fingers flexed. He swallowed.
"Was Father like this when I was—"
"Worse," rasped Dick.
Damien stepped away, shoulders shifting under the cape.
Dick sat halfway up. "You know it's not about Tim, right? It's about being there for Bruce and Alfred. Me too. Tim and I weren't that close but he was part of my life in a good way."
Damien stuck his chin in the air. "You don't need to lecture me on family duty, Grayson." His posture settled. "I'll tell Pennyworth to prepare my suit." He began to walk toward the elevator.
Dick pushed himself the rest of the way up, tucked his heels and jumped to a standing position, brushing himself off.
"What was he?"
Dick looked up. "Hm?"
"If he's family but not your father, then—"
"Best big brother a kid ever had. Been where I'd been, you know?"
Damien snorted, folding his arms. "I hit you twice. What do I get?"
Dick frowned. "I answered two questions."
"Yes, but that wasn't what was agreed. I said 'to be determined.'"
Nightwing drew his head back. "Well what got determined?"
Alfred took a double-take. "Master Dick, why are you ever wearing short pants on such a chilly afternoon?"
"Full range of motion, Alfred. And I have glorious calves."
Damien smirked. "Inconceivable."