Jump City. May 24th, 2018. 12:45 AM.
Raven sat cross-legged on her bed staring down at her fiancé’s face with a look of disappointment. They both figured they’d eventually have to get around to it, they just… they didn’t want it to be so soon. Damian’s eyes stared back at Raven’s, mirroring her expression. It was actually rather strange how it worked out; any normal person would be ecstatic at the chance to magically recover from a car crash in seconds. But getting thrown through that windshield had, while rendering him wheelchair-bound for several weeks, allowed Damian to take great strides in his relationships with all of his friends. Among those strides were learning to cook with Jon (for someone who spent most of his time in Kansas as a farmhand, Kent made a surprisingly good pot roast), studying meditation with Garfield and Tara (Beast Boy was surprisingly tranquil at heart, especially for someone who called himself “Beast Boy”), helping Jaime learn more about the previous Blue Beetle Ted Kord (Damian never met the man directly, but his father spoke fondly of him; of all the heroes he’d known, Bruce felt that Kord was the most down-to-earth, the most human), and discovering that Kori had been developing her relationship with Todd and veteran Titan Roy Harper. (To what end this relationship was building, Damian didn’t bother asking. He finally realized that not everything that goes on in Titans Tower was his business.) But of course, Raven knew all this… since she was there for nearly every second of it. She enjoyed spending quality time with everyone just as much as Damian. She even got the opportunity to get to know Cassandra a bit better. While there had been something of a language barrier between them (Cassie was still getting accustomed to English), Raven found a kinship in Orphan quite similar to the one she found in Damian.
“It’s been great, hasn’t it?” Damian sighed as he let his eyes turn back to the ceiling.
Raven smiled as she traced her fingertips along his chest. “Yeah… but we have to get this done.” She sighed, and carefully helped him pull himself up, until he was eye-level with her.
“Well… it’ll be nice to walk on my own again, I’ll say that.” Damian smirked back at the witch-girl before leaning in and giving her lips a quick peck. Raven rolled her eyes and began to tug at Damian’s shirt, which caught the boy off-guard.
“Yeah, I know, it’s weird. But for really extensive injuries, I have to be able to see it to heal it,” Raven explained. Damian nodded, blushing as he carefully removed his shirt and lowered himself onto his stomach in front of her. Raven looked down at the expanse of skin before her, and she had to pause for a moment. Even ignoring the bloody smears from where her lover in his infinite wisdom decided to remove his own stitches, Damian’s back was already covered in battle scars; bullet holes, blade strokes, even what appeared to me claw marks from what had to either be a bear or some kind of big cat… but beneath all those marks, Damian’s skin rippled with toned muscles and curved with his shoulders and spine. Damian was more on the lean side, no hulking muscleman, but…
It was a good few seconds before Raven realized she still hadn’t laid a hand on him. She was just staring down at his back, running her eyes over every mark, every curve. Damian, however, noticed soon enough, grinning back at her over his shoulder. “Ohhhhh. You’re kinda into this right now, aren’t you?”
“Shut up,” Raven snipped with a little smirk before gently placing her hand on his back, over his still-open wounds from where the glass of the windshield had been. Slowing her breath, her hands began to faintly glow with a familiar violet light, which slowly made its way into the wounds in Damian’s back. In mere moments, the wounds in Damian’s back had faded into more scars covering the canvas of flesh. Raven let out a heavy sigh; the wounds were not deep, but they had been numerous enough that healing them all had been somewhat taxing for her.
Damian swung his legs out in front of him and sat up straight, sliding right off the bed as he picked up his Red X top off the floor and slid it over his head. “God, it’s good to walk again…” the Son of Batman let out a low grunt as he pulled the shirt down the length of his torso. “Now I just have to keep my mother in check while we hunt down this impostor.”
“About that, Damian…” Raven slid across the floor, wrapping her arms around Damian’s waist as she gently rested her head on his shoulder. “Are you sure it’s really her? I mean, if it’s been this long since you even heard from her, how do you know she’s still…”
“Because she’s more than just League…” Damian’s expression went grim as he spoke. “… she’s an Al Ghul. Al Ghuls are like roaches… we’re tough to kill.”
“How much do you know about her?” Batman busied himself at Damian’s computer screen, filling in a brand new file for this mysterious “false X” as he tossed the question over his shoulder to the mother of his child. Talia paced back and forth across their son’s room, wracking her brain to come up with any information she could recall about their adversary.
“She was second in line to be the head of the Demon’s Fist,” the Phantasm began, “before my father died. She was trained alongside Damian for years, and they were nearly equal in skill… but Damian was just a hair’s breadth ahead of her. I terminated the Demon’s Fist project shortly after Deathstroke’s assault on the League, and sent her to handle our chapter in Gibraltar.”
“You gave her her own chapter?” Bruce cocked an eyebrow as he filled out the bio. “You must have had a lot of faith in this kid…”
“My brother’s daughter was bred for the same purpose as my son and myself,” Talia replied. “We were to supplant Ra’s if anything happened to him. Damian was put at the top of the list only because he was male.”
“What exactly happened to your brother, anyway?”
“Dusan? No idea…” the former assassin shrugged. “He’s probably dead. Either way, if Damian is right about this false Red X, then she needs to be our first priority.”
“Of course. Now assuming she’s roughly the same height and weight as Damian, I just need a little more information…” the Dark Knight scrolled back up to the top of the page. “Hair.”
“Black, with a red streak over her face.”
“Heterochromic. One green, one brown.”
“A scar over her right eye.”
Talia grimaced. “… Mara. Mara al Ghul.”
Damian stood on the edge of the roof overlooking the river, watching the flowing water shimmer as it moved around Titans Island. It felt good to be on his own two feet again, and even better to be back in uniform. He had been on the sidelines quite long enough, and he was ready to hunt down the false X once and for all. Unfortunately, the false X turned out, if Damian’s assumption was correct, to be his greatest rival: his cousin Mara. He hadn’t even thought about Mara since he was a child. He figured she was stilled holed up somewhere in Gibraltar where his mother had sent her when Ra’s was killed. He figured she’d probably die there, and it honestly never bothered him that much… to put it mildly, he was not particularly fond of Mara. She was every bit as aggressive and arrogant as he himself had been as a member of the League. The difference was that Damian had had family and friends to help him mature into something more than just the living weapon he believed himself to be… Mara had no one.
“Hey. Good to see ya up and about again.”
Damian looked over his shoulder as Garfield Logan stepped up onto the edge beside him. There was a tired look in his emerald eyes, a look that spoke of far more than just physical exhaustion… Garfield had been struggling lately. A moment passed between them, and the Changeling glanced down at his stub and smirked.
“Did you know you can still feel it?” Garfield asked in a low voice.
Damian blinked for a moment. Was this… was this conversation actually about to happen? “Feel… what?”
Beast Boy looked over at Damian before raising what was left of his arm up for him to see. “I can still feel it… it itches. And I can’t scratch it.”
Damian winced at the thought. “That has to be rough…”
“Could be worse…” Logan continued. “the worst is when it gets numb. Like pins and needles… I can’t smack it against anything to get it to wake up, so it just tingles until it burns. It’s brutal.”
Damian sighed. “Garfield, I’m sorry… I never meant for this to happen to you…”
Beast Boy smiled over at his teammate. “Relax, man. You did what you had to do. And it really wasn’t too hard to adjust.”
Damian knew this was a lie; he’d watched Garfield’s transition into a one-handed lifestyle, and it was most definitely “hard”. And slow. And excruciating. Even his transformations were one-armed… even one-winged, in the case of birds. Still, the shape-shifter somehow managed to learn to gallop as a three-legged stallion, cut through the waters as a one-finned shark, and he almost was able to discover a way to stay airborne with only one wing (sadly, he was unable to overcome the laws of physics in this case).
“But y'know what makes it all easier?” Garfield smiled as he turned and looked down to the grassy area just outside the Tower entrance, where Tara lie gazing up at the stars. “Waking up next to that girl every morning. Makes everything worth it.”
Damian let his mind drift to Raven. In his head, he could see her reading on the couch in the livingroom, and he smiled. “Yeah… I can relate.”