“Drake, if one more old lady tries to pinch my cheeks, I’m going to stab her with a cocktail fork,” Damian Wayne hissed as he leaned against the wall beside Timothy Drake-Wayne. He wasn’t hiding; it was a strategic retreat, and it could barely be called that.
Gotham High Society was worse than the League of Shadows.
“Be grateful you’re not Dick,” Drake deadpanned behind his glass of ‘champagne.’ “They pinch his cheeks, too. Just not the ones on his face.”
Damian scanned the ballroom rapidly; his gaze found Dick Grayson right as a woman Damian knew was married pinched Grayson’s — “How dare that harlot besmirch Grayson’s honor? I shall avenge —”
Drake grabbed Damian’s wrist. It was only the very public setting that kept Damian from injuring Drake to get loose. How the older Robin — whom he had replaced, as the much superior model — could claim to be so intelligent and yet miss the obvious infuriated and baffled Damian. Did Drake truly not understand what it meant to be raised by Talia al Ghul in the League of Shadows? Of course Damian’s first response to physical contact or surprise was a violent attempt to get away! Such things had saved his life when he was a child; his mother and grandfather had many enemies.
“B’s got it,” Jason Todd stated, rounding a column and joining them. “Don’t you remember what happened last month when Lex Luthor got handsy with me?”
As if on cue, Damian watched his father amble toward Grayson and the harlot with a wide smile on his face. Then Father tripped over nothing — it was humiliating for his father to act in such a demeaning manner in public. It was also, Damian acknowledged, immensely satisfying.
The harlot screeched like a dying animal as Father dumped an entire flute of champagne down her neckline — if something that low could even be called a neckline.
“I’m so sorry, Mrs. —”
Damian smirked as the woman wailed and his father offered false apologies; the woman was too foolish to realize Father was insincere. In fact, the glint in Father’s eyes as he lied to her reminded Damian of the time he had broken his arm fighting the Riddler. Father was very protective and possessive of everything that belonged to him. Damian approved. Even though Damian, himself, didn’t need protecting. He was skilled.
“Her nails are like claws,” Grayson said, society smile wiped from his face, back turned to the ballroom. “I’m going to have an enormous bruise.”
A group of women eyed them like a pack of coyotes hunting prey. It was appalling. Everyone in
Damian’s family Batman’s employ was a predator.
Damian looked up at Grayson, hating how it put a slight crick in his neck. He couldn’t wait until his growth spurts hit. With how tall Father was, Damian expected to reach a superior height compared to Father’s other children. Grayson had wrinkles around his eyes, which only appeared when he was overly stressed and uncomfortable. A glance at Drake revealed that the bags under his eyes were nearly visible, despite Drake’s undeniable talent at make-up application; Drake swayed slightly. And Todd was keeping almost all his weight off his left leg; Red Hood had been shot in the thigh four days ago. Honestly, Todd should still be in bed. He wasn’t young and healthy like Damian, and neither were the other two.
Once again, it fell to Damian to be the mature and responsible one. None of the people who dared to claim him as family could take care of themselves. It was infuriating!
As the women approached, Damian sneered.
Then, staring right at them, he stated, “I’ve come down with a horrific case of food-poisoning. Grayson is required to escort me to my room. Drake is required to blacklist the caterer and acquire the necessary medicine. And Todd is required to keep Grayson from smothering me with concern. You’ll have to speak with Father if you want to talk to a Wayne.”
“You … look fine?”
“Of course I do. Wayne genetics are unequaled.”
Todd snickered. Drake’s shoulders were shaking. Grayson was beaming that annoying smile down at Damian.
It was completely improper. Damian had only been referring to himself as a ‘Wayne,’ obviously; he hadn’t subtly acknowledged them as his brothers. At. All.
“Come along,” Damian ordered the three idiots who seemed incapable of taking care of themselves. “Dying of food poisoning in public would be undignified and I’ll never forgive you if you allow me to do so.”
Grayson ruffled his hair. “Let’s get you to bed, Dami.”
As they followed him toward the stairs, Drake texting on his phone — as if he were really blacklisting the caterer; he should, because the amuse-bouche were atrocious — and Todd and Grayson teasing each other, Damian’s chest ached.
He reminded himself, as he always did, that it wasn’t love.
Damian didn’t love them. They weren’t his brothers.
He despised them. And because he did, it wouldn’t hurt at all when they inevitably erred and got themselves killed.