Harvey’s Bar and Grill, Park Row,
Gotham City. April 20th, 2028. 11:34 PM.
years, old friend,” Gordon said, his glass of Scottish whiskey
raised, “and my finally joining you.”
silently back at his old partner, his face blank. Despite the sizable
age difference between them, they both looked about equally as worn
down; their white hair, the lines covering each of their faces, the
seasoned look in their eyes. One might never guess that Jim had
already been a grown man when Bruce was a boy. But living the life
that Bruce Wayne had led comes with a price: being fifty-five years
old and looking eighty-six.
The hour grew late, and for once, Damian Wayne grew
tired along with it.
It was not typical behavior for the young man, allowing
himself to unwind at night. Did he often get tired at night? Perhaps,
but he always found something to keep him alert; as a child–as a
Robin–Damian had been fond of frozen drinks in the Batmobile
during patrol. But his tastes changed, and his chosen energizer
shifted to become more practical as the years went by. As Red X, the
youngest Wayne found himself downing several shots of espresso before
patrol, and even kept a few caffeine pills in his utility belt just
in case. But once he became the Batman, Damian took to B12 injections
to keep his mind sharp. Nothing worked better. Was it dangerous for
him to inject himself so frequently with such a high dosage of
vitamin supplements? Damian didn’t know, nor did he give it much
thought. Gotham had to have a protector, and that particular burden
fell to him when his father retired.
Damian Wayne shambled out of his bedroom, slightly dazed from exhaustion, and slowly made his way into the elevator. He had been up all night slaving away at his computer, cataloging all of the events that had transpired since he had arrived at Titans Tower. Which, although he was no stranger to large-scale affairs occurring so suddenly (he was the son of Batman, after all), even Damian had to admit that the ordeal he and his new partners had gone through was rather… Daunting, to say the least. In the span of only three days, he had moved all the way from New Jersey to California, participated in an attack on the Justice League, and helped a half-demon sorceress defeat her own father, who just so happened to be the Devil himself.
But Damian was well-prepared for that amount of action. He was a trained assassin prince with the blood of the Batman in his veins; leading a siege on the most powerful beings on Earth, and even in Hell, was well within his capabilities. But documenting such a monumental event was not an easy task. Not to say that he was inept regarding computers, of course; he could easily manipulate any computer system to whatever ends he set his mind to. But the amount of detail required for the archives of the Teen Titans was almost unbelievable. He couldn’t begin to fathom how difficult it must be to make such documentation for the Justice League… Which in turn led Damian to a newfound respect for his father’s mental fortitude, given that it’s usually Bruce who handles the League’s archives.
As the elevator opened back up, Damian stumbled briefly when he stepped out, halting for a moment and blinking profusely to regain his balance. As he attempted to rub the tiredness from his eyes, the boy decided that perhaps tea would help to restore his senses. He dragged his feet along the floor as he shuffled into the kitchen, but stopped in the doorway out of confusion at what he’d found. Sitting on the stove was a pot of freshly brewed tea. Damian blinked a few more times, his sleep-deprived brain taking longer than usual to reach the logical conclusion: someone else was already awake as well. He shrugged at the thought and poured himself a cup, taking a sip and quickly recognizing the familiar taste of Earl Grey. He finished his tea in a few moments, the caffeine helping his mind to sharpen back to an acceptable level. Once he’d washed and stored his cup and saucer, Damian figured he may as well head up to the roof; perhaps some fresh air would help further awaken him. He boarded the elevator again and proceeded upward.
The elevator door opened once more, and Damian took in a deep breath of the spring air. As he walked out onto the roof, the gentle breeze drifting across his face, he was surprised to find that he was not alone. Already sitting on the roof, facing out to the east, was another person. Damian instantly recognized the figure, and walked quietly toward them, sitting down on their right.
“Good morning, Raven.”
The mage girl left her eyes closed, but let out a sigh in reaction to Damian’s greeting. “Good morning, Damian,” she said, her voice quiet and breathy. As Damian looked at her, he felt an unusual feeling in his chest. He recognized it from only once before: it had happened on the night Koriand'r dragged the team to the fair, when he and Raven locked eyes on the Ferris wheel. He needed to remember to write that down, so that later he could look into this phenomenon. But for the moment, his attention was fixated on the Titan to his left, as were his eyes. It was peculiar that he had never really stopped and observed her before; sitting cross-legged on the roof, Raven maintained healthy posture, her back kept straight as she performed her meditation. Her arms looked relaxed, her hands resting in a face-up open position on her thighs, and her breathing was apparently disciplined, as a visible rise and fall with each slow breath was present not in her chest, but in her stomach, indicating that she was taking in more air at a slower rate than most people would. Another thing that intrigued Damian was her attire: he was under the impression that all the clothes Raven owned were either black or gray. But this morning she was dressed in a pair of pastel-red pajama bottoms, and a light periwinkle tank-top. He said nothing, but he noted to himself that these lighter colors complimented her light-gray skin quite well. Turning his attention back to her pose, Damian could not help but notice that one of her shoulders was slightly tensed; there was no indication in her expression, but Damian could tell that she was in discomfort.
“Damian… Why are you staring at me?”
The boy blinked for a moment, snapping his attention onto her inquiry. “I’m sorry, what?” To this, Raven turned her head slowly towards him and opened her eyes. Clearly not the eyes of an ordinary mortal, Raven’s irises were filled with what could only be described as gently swirling clouds of rich purple. When Damian met her gaze, he felt that same odd feeling in his chest, the one he couldn’t quite identify… He couldn’t understand why this only happened when he was with Raven. But he was intent on figuring it out.
“Your shoulder,” Damian asked, shifting his focus for the moment. “You’re in pain, aren’t you?”
Raven glanced down at her tensed arm, her eyes lingering on it for a moment. “It’s… It’s not that bad. Just a side-effect of my current condition. The more he pushes to escape, the more it hurts me.” She looked back up to Damian. “I guess that’s what I get for trapping the Devil inside me.”
Damian shook his head. “You don’t have to just bear it, though. Pain through tension can be treated. Part of what they taught me in the League of Assassins is how to do exactly that.”
Raven raised an eyebrow at her friend’s statement. “… The elite organization of killers… Taught you how to give a massage?”
“Naturally,” Damian replied. “We may have been taught to ignore pain when in action, but we were also taught to remove all unnecessary pain in preparation for the next time we are called to act.”
Raven just stared blankly at him for a moment. “… You’re saying you want to rub my shoulder.”
“Why would I not? You should be at your best the next time we’re on assignment. You won’t be at your best with your shoulder messed up like that.”
Raven shook her head and cracked a half-smile, a quiet chuckle barely sounding in her throat. “Alright, fine. See if it helps if you really want.”
Without another word, Damian moved behind Raven and placed one hand in position on her right shoulder, the other gently on her left arm for stability. Carefully, he began to slide his thumb down her back, until he located a knot beneath the exposed skin. He continued his observation as he worked: Raven’s skin was very soft, just like he thought earlier. Surprisingly, she was also quite warm to the touch. Taking great care not to hurt her, Damian worked his thumb into the muscle beneath her shoulder blade. As he worked at the contusion, Damian noticed Raven’s head rolling back slowly. He tried to ignore it as he continued, but just as the knot in her back was easing up and her shoulder relaxing, a low, breathy moan slipped quietly out of Raven’s throat. Immediately, his heart began beating faster, and his brow furrowed in response. Slowly, Damian pulled his hands away from the girl.
“Better…?” he asked.
Raven looked down at her shoulder for a moment before looking back at him. “Yes…” she said, almost at a whisper. “I don’t know how you did it, but the pain is… completely gone. Thank you.”
“Think nothing of it,” Damian replied, getting himself to his feet. He helped lift Raven up to stand as well, and just as the two exchanged another glance, the first beams of sunlight broke out over the horizon. She gave him a little smile, and then the two of them turned and watched as the yellow sun emerged over the edge of the earth, casting bright orange reflections onto the purplish-blue clouds of dawn.
Damian’s mind, now fully alert, was racing with all this new information. For whatever reason, certain interactions between himself and Raven were causing abnormal cardiac behavior. These irregularities were not inherently unpleasant, but they were still unexplained, and this made Damian uneasy. With more and more questions burning into Damian’s mind, he was only certain of one thing: he needed to observe whatever effect Raven was having on his heart more closely, and that meant that he needed to spend more time in her presence.
As he continued to process all of the information he was gathering, Damian failed to notice his gaze drifting to the silky exposed skin of Raven’s upper back. Raven, on the other hand, did end up noticing.
“Are you gonna keep staring at me?” She asked, raising an eyebrow again. Damian blinked a few times, then shook his head and walked back to the elevator and pushed the call button. She smirked and walked over to join him, and the two boarded the elevator to go join their friends for breakfast.
So I found out a few days ago that Bucky’s birthday is today (March 10). And like what happened with Steve’s birthday comic, I sat down to draw a comic about silly birthday shenanigans and ended up with a guy who doesn’t really want a celebration. Ooops?