rachel and cassandra

Chapter 35

Jump City General Hospital. May 5th, 2018. 12:23 AM.

“Mr. Wayne! What can you tell us about your fiancée??”

“Mr. Wayne, why did you decide to get engaged so early on?”

“Damian, when are you planning on having the wedding!?”

“Mr. Wayne, have the two been physical with one another yet??”

Damian let out an irritated groan as he shuffled over to a little table in the hospital cafeteria, tugging at his hospital gown as he sat down across from Raven and Cassandra. Being the son of Bruce Wayne often brought with it even more unwanted attention than being the son of Batman. He turned, smiling as he put on his best “rich young socialite” face to address the members of Jump City’s press.

“Alright, alright, in order…” the young Titan began. “One: her name is Rachel Roth, and she’s awesome. Two: it was a spur of the moment thing, and we both agreed that a Promise Ring seemed a little redundant. Three: we’ve decided to have a prolonged engagement. Details about our wedding are TBA if and when we deem it appropriate. And who’s the idiot who asked whether or not we’ve been doin’ it?” Damian scanned the mob of reporters until one of them slowly raised his hand. “You. Shame on you, and shame on your paper. I’m fifteen years old, I can’t even have my own Netflix account yet. Of course we’re not havin’ sex.”

“Seems like the apple falls pretty far from the tree then, doesn’t it?” The reporter shot back with a sudden burst of confidence.

Damian snickered. “Yeah, I guess it does.”

“Good thing, too!” Everyone in the room turned to see Bruce Wayne saunter across the cafeteria, a bag of hot sandwiches in his hand. After a collective gasp, the fleet off paparazzi began snapping photo after photo of the billionaire as he moved to join the others at the table.

“Oh, good! You found the sub shop!” Damian grinned as his father sat down next to him, passing out a sandwich to each of his children at the table.

“Your buddy Garfield would hate me if he saw what I got us all,” Bruce grinned as he unwrapped his meal, taking in a deep breath as steam wafted from the pile of meat and bread into his. “No tofu here, ladies and gents!”

This of course invoked a swarm of new questions and pestering from the members of the media, to which Bruce responded by pulling out a small device from his pocket, pressing a button which disabled the countless cameras and microphones surrounding them.

“Get lost, ya vultures!” Bruce waved his hand dismissively as the crowd of people dispersed, until only one paparazzo remained.

“Just one more question…” the man in the big hat and coat insisted as he approached the table.

“Leave,” Cassandra replied, her voice low. “Please.”

“Aw, come on Cassie…” a flurry of his coat later, everyone smiled as Tim Drake dropped into the seat beside his sister. “Is that any way to talk to family?”

Tim!” Cass threw her arms around Tim as everyone laughed. “You made it!”

“Hey, I heard you guys needed my help! What was I supposed to do, say no? Besides, I owed Dad a favor,” Tim replied with a wink. “Steph is out lookin’ for a place to park.”

“You let Stephanie drive you here?” Damian laughed softly, taking care not to aggravate his injuries. “You’re braver than I gave you credit for, Timothy.”

Excuse you?” Raven cocked an eyebrow as she looked across the table at her fiancé. “You must have hit your head harder than you thought, otherwise you would remember why you’re out of commission to begin with.”

“Drunk drivers? Oh, I remember that.” Damian smirked back at her, his cheeks stuffed with brisket.

“I would have said ‘lowering your defenses on the road’, but sure. That too,” Bruce joked, holding a half of his sandwich up to Tim. “Want some?”

“I’m good, thanks.” Drake waved off Bruce’s offer. “But again, Dame? Don’t even worry about Nygma. Steph and I can take care of everything. I’ve been a Titan before… sure, it was pre-Raven, but the team can’t have changed THAT much, right?”

Raven took in a hiss of a breath through her teeth. “Well…”

Tim turned to Raven, one brow raised. “… what is that supposed to mean? Like… who’s on the roster right now?”

“Well… Beast Boy is still there,” Damian started, “and so is his girlfriend Terra, the geomancer… then of course there’s Superboy, Blue Beetle…”

“Who?”

“He’s cool, don’t worry. Then Kori, Raven, and I guess you and Spoiler–”

“Well, no.” Raven whipped her head back around to Damian. “No Raven. I’m not leaving.”

“Right. Unless you absolutely need to, but let’s not get into that. We’re good…” Damian looked back down at his lunch thoughtfully for a moment, then turned his eyes back to Tim. “There’s another thing I need you to keep an eye out for, though. There’s, uhh… there’s someone else going around right now. An impostor… someone pretending to be Red X. I don’t know who they are exactly, but I know they’re female, about my height, and evidence suggests that they’re former League of Assassins. She referred to me as ‘Prince’, she knows my name, her fighting style is identical to mine… but I can’t figure out who exactly they are.”

Tim paused for a moment before nodding solemnly. “If she shows up, we’ll catch her. I promise.”

Damian was draped over his bed, his eyes wandering over the ceiling and his fingers tracing little squiggles into the back of Raven’s hand on his chest. He’d appreciated everyone giving the two of them some time alone; Tim and Stephanie had left for Titans Tower, and his father and sister decided to explore the city a bit, so it had been just him and Raven for the past hour or so. He wanted to talk to her about some things that had been weighing on his mind lately, but he decided it wasn’t the time for that. Right now, he just wanted to appreciate her presence, take in the silence, draw serenity from her. Days like this were becoming more and more frequent in Damian’s life, which he wasn’t sure how to feel about… but he decided to enjoy it while he could.

And he did… right up until the door opened, and the nurse came back into the room.

“Hey Mr. Wayne!” The woman chirped brightly. She was young, probably just fresh out of med school, and did her best to keep smiling throughout her interactions with, Damian could only assume, all of her patients. Given that he was in the ICU, Damian understood that the other patients she must have to tend to were probably all much worse off than him, so he appreciated her efforts. “Hope now isn’t a bad time, but we gotta keep those incisions clean.”

“You’re fine, ma'am,” Damian replied with a smile, doing his best to give off positive vibes for the nurse. “After all, infection is the last thing we need, isn’t it?”

“You got that right.” The young attendant nodded with a smile as she helped Damian lean forward. “Okay, let’s get this gown off ya…”

“Oh!” Raven turned to the window, her cheeks a slight shade of pink. “Uh, should I leave the room?”

The nurse turned to Raven quizzically. “I don’t see why. So long as you’re not touching the stitches or anything, you prob'ly won’t get 'em contaminated…”

“It’s not that, ma'am…” Damian rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. “We’ve never really seen each other… y'know.

“Oh! Really?” The young woman seemed surprised. “That’s a little odd. I mean, aren’t you two… actually nevermind, that’s not my business. But you don’t need to go anywhere, Ms. Roth.” Raven kept her eyes to the window as the nurse tended to Damian’s stitches. This took about six minutes, and when she left, Damian let out a sigh of relief.

“… is that weird?” Raven turned back to Damian with an expression that displayed her pondering. “We’re getting married, but I’ve never actually seen you without… well, I’ve actually never even seen you without a shirt.”

“Well, you have to keep in mind, we’ve got this whole five-year engagement thing going…” Damian replied, stopping to gather his thoughts. “… so y'know, we’re taking that five year period to really get to know everything we can about each other. Like, yeah, we’ve been together for a whole year, you’ve looked into the deepest corners of my soul, and I’m closer to you than anyone else in the world, but… y'know. I still don’t know everything about you.”

“Yeah… I guess we still have a good bit to learn about one another.” The half-demon sat down gently on the side of the bed. “… Besides, I kind of like not focusing on the physicality of our relationship. I love you for you, not your appearance.”

“Exactly,” Damian said with a nod. “I mean, that’s not to say you’re not physically…”

“Oh, I think we’ve covered that.” Raven winked, recalling a previous conversation about the physical aspects of their relationship. Damian blushed as the witch-girl snickered.

“… How do you think Tim is gonna handle the team?” The Son of Batman turned his gaze back to the window. Clearly, this had been weighing on his mind all day; it wasn’t in Damian’s nature to sit on the sidelines, so this “analog recovery” business was something he hadn’t done since he joined the Titans. His warrior spirit yearned to return to Titans Tower, to get back to the streets of his city, to keep his people safe. Raven felt this struggle within him, and placed a comforting hand on his knee.

“They’ll be okay, Damian,” she whispered, smiling softly as Damian turned to look back at her. “Promise. You don’t have to worry. Okay?”

Damian smiled back, letting his concerns drift to the back of his mind as she captured his attention with her gaze. “Okay.”

2

TEEN TITANS #9
Written by WILL PFEIFER
Art by KENNETH ROCAFORT
Cover by BENGAL
THE JOKER Variant cover by SCOTT McDANIEL
On sale JUNE 24 $2.99
On the run with Superboy, the Titans must uncover the truth behind the Boy of Steel’s crimes, or they all might end up serving time with their former teammate.

July Book Photo Challenge
Day 31: Read this Month 

Not pictured: City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls, and City of Heavenly Fire all by Cassandra Clare, and Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour