- Tue May 12, 2015 11:58 am
Ch. 13: No Need for Choices
The Bat-Bunker was far tenser than it was when Washu left. It seemed as if it were abandoned except for the two line figures arguing in the shadows.
"I told you Dick, she's proven herself to me! Shouldn't my blessing be enough? She needs to do this, we talked about it before! Stephanie has done great things for this city while you have been busy with Jason and those human dolls! Just because our city is throwing around new criminals does not mean that you can just pull her out! It's not like you and I haven't talked since then, but I know you have been avoiding the subject!"
"Barbara, you know my problem with her was mainly due to the fact that Black Mask returned. She did well enough with the fight against Ras Al Ghul and she did earn my trust, but I still have doubts if she can keep up in this environment. I'm sure Tim feels the same way. I haven't even brought up her recklessness!"
"Were we any less reckless when we were her age?! I seem to recall a certain someone patrolling every time Bruce went out of town! You are trying to bring Damian to the light? I'm trying to give Steph some purpose in her life! Can't you understand that?"
"I...damn it Babs. I'm sorry. It's been getting so damn rough in the city, you know? With Bruce gone, it's been hard to keep up with everything and train Damian at the same time. What did you call him... 'a murderous twit?'"
The two heroes were laughing together like the old friends they were when Washu and Ryoko stepped through the door. Ryoko went to say something, but Washu stopped her. However, it was too late: the pupils of Batman were trained well enough to spot when they were not alone.
"It's okay Hakubi; we know you are there."
"Aw phooey; we're sorry for ruining your moment. Right Ryoko?" Washu said with a nudge.
Ryoko kicked the ground. "Yeah, sure, whatever. Now could someone please tell me why I was dragged out of the house and into another country! Vague explanations, no choice...you really grind my gears Washu!"
"Hold your horses girlie; I'll get you back to Ayeka in two shakes of a cabbit's tail!"
The space pirate rolled her eyes. "Sure you will. I've got no doubt you will try to rope me into whatever harebrained scheme you are planning! Let's just get this over with."
"Ryoko, for what it's worth, I'm sorry we asked you here so suddenly but this is serious," Batman told her.
"Asked, feh," Ryoko grunted. "So what's the problem? And where's the junior princess anyway?"
Dick blinked for a moment. "Junior...you mean Sasami? We asked them to leave for a moment while we talked. If you excuse me a moment ladies, I'll corral them back in."
With that, the three ladies were alone. Ryoko took it upon herself to wander about and make jokes about the decor, leaving Professor Washu and Barbara Gordon to talk at last.
"So...I hear you took on a protege!" Washu said, trying to break the ice.
"I did. Maybe you'll meet her one day...but probably you won't."
The scientist sighed and sat down for a moment. She turned her attention back to the red head and adopted a serious face. "Look, I thought you and I settled the whole 'trust' thing already. Why act so cold? I assume your hostility with our Dark Knight is not just purely because of your new Batgirl, am I right?"
"I'm not happy with his choice in allies, yes! 'Cold?' I'm acting 'cold' because I took it upon myself to do some research about you when we parted ways!" Barbara coolly told her. "I have friends in the Green Lantern Corps. who had no issue looking through your record."
"And I'm sure you'll see that the galaxy hailed me as a hero for the Kagato incident on Jurai!"
"Yes, it did, but there were other curious things too. A dimensional cannon, a universal bullet...you created weapons of mass destruction!"
Washu hand-waved the girl. "Please, I did no such thing. I created scientific advancements! It's not my fault if my material can be dangerous in the wrong hands. I think the same can be said about your boy Bruce."
"Do NOT put Bruce Wayne and you in the same category!"
"I just did! I had hoped as an intelligent woman you would understand the type of person that I am, but I see that I was mistaken," Washu said, obviously trying not to look hurt. "I try to save the galaxy on more occasions than anyone in the Galaxy Police could ever know. What do you think I've been doing in the past six months?!"
There was a silence in the room as the two ladies regarded each other. Ryoko, on the other hand, was hiding in the corner taking in every word. 'This makes this all worth it!' she thought to herself, wishing that she had some sake to make it interesting.
"While you have been here with your new Batgirl, I've had to literally send the girls back in time to clean up a lingering mess from Darkseid's machinations! Because he nearly ruined all of time and space, subspace was thrown out of whack. When that happened, a major criminal named Kain destroyed Galaxy Police Headquarters and went back in time to mess with the past! We were the only ones to notice the anomaly and saved the timeline...at the cost of Tenchi's mother..." she roared bitterly. "I may have created things that I'm not proud of, but I will never regret the technological advancements I have made. You may see me as another 'mad scientist' to lock up in Arkham Asylum, but I'd like to think I'm more than that. I expected more from you Barbara Gordon."
Barbara looked stunned at the passion of Washu's words. She really did write Washu off as an intergalactic criminal and nothing more. In fact, Barbara realized she focused more of her prejudices at her than the ACTUAL space pirate who was in the room. "I suppose...I suppose I haven't been entirely fair to you Washu, even after you helped save the planet. I'm sorry for not being trustworthy, but you have to understand. I'm the daughter of a police commissioner and a pupil of the Batman. It is second nature."
"As it should be. Look, I'm not asking you to be my best friend and go out on movie nights together or anything. I just want your trust. Nothing more, nothing less." With that, she stuck out her hand. "I've already had you shake my hand before. Willing to try again?"
She looked at the hand and had to force a smile. She took it and shook. "See, was that so hard? You can stop eavesdropping now Ryoko!"
"Oh good, you two kissed and made up?" Ryoko mocked laughing. "You all are nuts."
Barbara raised an eyebrow. "Don't think I haven't looked up your crimes too Ryoko!"
"Ack! Hey, that's no fair! Why involve me in this?!"
"You involved yourself!" Barbara smiled.
"This is why I like you Gordon!" Washu laughed, patting her on the back. "You can play with the big leagues and never back down! I love it!"
"You all repulse me," the voice of Damian Wayne echoed from the elevator. The Boy Wonder was followed by Sasami close behind him and everyone else trailing behind.
"Damian!" Sasami chided. "That's not a nice thing to say! Remember what we talked about!"
"...yes Princess," he sighed. Alfred and Dick turned and looked at each other. Alfred raised an eyebrow while Dick started to grin. Mihoshi, however, did not notice anything and ran to hug Ryoko.
The blonde beauty wrapped her arms around the space pirate and squeezed. "Oh Ryoko, welcome to America! You missed it! We saw a great musical about a girl and a dog and a bald guy!"
"Hey, let me go! Down girl! Heel!"
"Oh Mihoshi, quit it!" Kiyone ordered. With a whimper, Mihoshi let go.
"Golly Kiyone, I was just so excited to see Ryoko! You didn't have to yell!"
Rubbing her temple, Kiyone refrained from responding. "Let's get this over with, shall we?"
"Best idea I've heard yet! So why ask a beautiful lady like me to come to a country like this?"
Batman acknowledged the computer. "Mihoshi mentioned that you met a person a few months back. Not that I don't doubt Mihoshi, but I'd like secondary confirmation."
"Yeah, sure," Ryoko shrugged. "If that's all you need, let's do this."
Dick pressed a few buttons and the picture of Doctor Hurt appeared on the screen. Ryoko studied his face and realization dawned upon her. "Hey; that's the pervert at that Fortress place!"
"Pervert?" Kiyone asked. "What made him a pervert?"
"He gave off this weird vibe, like Noboyuki back in the day, but not as innocent...if you can call Noboyuki innocent. He wanted to know my name and was super interested in me..." Ryoko explained. "Who is this scumbag?"
"Not as dead as we thought, apparently," Batman said glumly. "This confirms that the Black Glove is still active."
"What kind of crappy name is that?" Ryoko snorted.
"I have a question!" Mihoshi asked.
They all waited for Mihoshi to speak. "So who is this guy?"
"MIHOSHI! We discussed this already!" Kiyone yelled.
"He claims to be my grandfather," Damian scowled. "He's an ant that needs to be stepped..." He stopped and saw that Sasami was shaking her head disapprovingly. "...he's a criminal that needs to face justice to clear my family name." The pink eyed princess was now smiling that infamous smile of her's.
Ryoko tried to hold back laughter but failed to do so completely. "This is rich!"
"What is Ryoko?" Mihoshi asked.
"I'll tell you when you are older!"
Damian flashed Ryoko a death glare. "Say ANYTHING of that nature and I'll bash your face in!"
"Aaaaanyway," Washu said, trying to change the subject. "So your boy Hurt is alive...saved by Superman in his effort to allow humanity to survive apparently. Guess that narrows down who El Penitente is and who's behind that viral attack you were talking about. I'll take a look at that after I do what you all asked me to do. Where is he?"
"Wait, was that all you needed of me? Damn it Washu, I thought you might need me to bust some heads or something!" Ryoko complained.
"Shut up Ryoko, I'm working. When I finish examining the corpse, I'll bring you back. Don't worry, Tenchi hasn't come home from school yet."
"Since you will be here for some time Miss Ryoko, would you like some tea?" Alfred asked. "I prepared some upstairs and can easily make you a cup."
"Sure Jeeves, why not?" Ryoko sighed. "Might as well show me around. It's not like I had plans for today or anything."
"I can help too! I love helping with tea!" Mihoshi chimed in. Nobody disagreed.
The three individuals left together on the elevator while Batman opened up a secret compartment in the corner of the Bunker.
"Boy, she's a barrel of sunshine," Barbara commented.
"I can tell you stories," Kiyone whispered.
"Sealed vault!" A mechanical voice echoed off the walls. "Speak the password carefully!"
A metal door creaked open as the contents of the vault were revealed to all of those present: a corpse dressed up in a most familiar costume:
The corpse of Bruce Wayne.
A collective chorus of gasps filled the air as the ladies laid eyes on the deceased body. Damian, who had seen the corpse before, merely turned away. It was clear he did not want to see his father like this.
Washu went up to the body and started to type on her portable computer. "Now then Mister Grayson, Brucie here managed to leave a very detailed map of his body on the Bat-Computer. I can see why you called him 'crazy prepared.' If there is no damage to Bruce Wayne's corpse, he will no doubt pass every test that I throw at him." She gave Mihoshi a long look. "I will require some semblance of silence while I work. You all do not have to leave, but please at least be considerate."
Dick stared intently at the woman as she started to work diligently. Kiyone wished that she could do something, anything to make this easier for him. Then she turned to look at Damian and was surprised at what she saw. Sasami was talking to the boy, but in a consoling way. Damian, amazingly, was receptive to it and seemed to be taking it rather well. 'Sasami...' Kiyone thought to herself, smiling at the young girl. Finally, she turned to Barbara, who was also watching the display with great interest.
"I have never seen him act this way," Barbara whispered to herself.
"Sasami has that effect on people. She's probably the most genuinely kind person I know in all of the galaxy."
"I wouldn't doubt it."
"Hmm..." Washu muttered. "Dickie, you just wanted me to check on the condition of the corpse, correct?"
"Yes Miss Washu, I did."
The woman stared at her computer and then again at the corpse. "This data is very interesting...very interesting indeed."
"Stop with your games woman!" Damian interjected. "What is wrong with father?"
"Superman was right; this corpse does have the DNA of Bruce Wayne. He has every broken bone and injury that he had. The problem comes from the actual chemical makeup of the corpse."
"I don't follow."
Washu pulled up a genetic map of Bruce Wayne, followed by the genetic map of the corpse. "If I were to overlap these two together, they would be identical. The issue is not about genetics, but rather a rare chemical. Kiyone, do you recall our little adventure to Bluddhaven?"
The officer nodded her head. "It's kind of hard to forget."
"What did we encounter there besides Darkseid and the computer terminal?"
She thought about it for a moment. Finally, realization set in and she opened her mouth in surprise. "You don't mean...?"
"Mean what Kiyone?" Sasami asked.
"There were clones," Kiyone whispered. "Clones of Bruce Wayne...are you suggesting?"
"Bingo!" Washu announced. "I took a small sample of the clones for testing and there was an oddity in the genetic makeup of the brain. It is only visible if you were to look for it. Kal-El probably has never encountered it before and glanced over it. He was looking for the bruises and injuries and would have chalked the anomaly to remnants of Darkseid's attack. Those clones killed themselves, and were not killed by Darkseid, thus that anomaly would not be present if it were brought about by Darkseid."
The silence in the Bat-Bunker was intense. Dick nearly collapsed in to the floor, but caught his balance before he looked like a fool. "I would have done anything for Bruce...for Batman. You're saying this isn't him?"
"That is exactly what I am saying," Washu explained. "If you had put this...clone into a Lazarus Pit, he would not have become Bruce Wayne, but rather the monster that killed himself."
"Father...is alive?" Damian asked, clearly in shock. "But where is he? Why was he not in Bluddhaven?"
"Tim Drake theorized he was stuck in time," Dick reminded him. "I guess he was right."
"You would believe the rantings of a fool in mourning?! What evidence did he present? A cave drawing? Come on now!"
"Hold on," Washu interjected. "You said time? You think he was forcibly sent to the past?"
"That's what Tim Drake said," Dick elaborated. "He went on a worldwide trek to prove that point. He only returned recently, but we only barely talked. We were kind of attacked by ninjas. True story."
"Ninjas?" Sasami squealed. "That sounds amazing!"
"We were pretty amazing, if I do say so myself," Damian smiled smugly. "Grandfather didn't know what hit him."
"If we were to check the area in Bluddhaven where Darkseid was killed, we might be able to find additional proof. If there is a concentration of tachyons in the air, it might suggest time travel. It is hard to say with New Gods," Washu was saying to herself. "Damn it, I guess this is a job for Superman."
"What?" Kiyone asked. "You don't think that you can handle this by yourself? That's not like you!"
"Traveling back in time, no problem. We all know that I can manage that. The question is where and why. I don't have access to that data, but if anyone could, it would be Superman."
"You know you don't have to..." Dick started, but Washu cut him off.
"I don't HAVE to do anything," Washu waved her finger. "I promised you I would help out no matter what. This is just the next logical step. What can I say? I'm a woman of my word. Right Barbara?"
"I suppose you are, Professor Hakubi."
"But wait, what about us?" Kiyone asked earnestly. "Are we all going back in time again too?"
"Heavens no! I'll relay the information and will probably be back here in a jiffy. I guess I'll bring Ryoko back too, just to keep her happy. Do you all want to join her?"
"No!" Sasami cried. "I like it here! We didn't even see Zorro yet!"
Dick cocked his head slightly. "Zorro?"
"Mr. Pennyworth told us we could watch it," Sasami explained meekly. "He told us it was Mr. Wayne's favorite movie!"
"That is was Princess that it was."
A clicking sound was heard and the sound of metal on metal flowed through the Bunker. Alfred had returned with Ryoko, clearly bringing tea with him. He distributed cups to everyone who wanted it and started to pour.
"Sasami, Jeeves here might have you beat with tea!" Ryoko drank deep. "That's some good stuff!"
"Earl Grey straight from England Miss Ryoko," "Jeeves" told her. "My personal favorite if I had to say."
"Alfie..we need to talk..." Dick started slowly. As the words came out of his mouth, Alfred was thankful that he was no longer holding any tea cups in his hand as he dropped his tray. Dick, using his keen reflexes, grabbed it before it hit the floor.
"You must forgive me Master Richard. That is most unbecoming for one in my profession. This is quite the shock!"
"Don't have a heart attack on us Pennyworth," Damian chided.
Ryoko downed her tea in one final gulp. "So good for you all, but what about me? I don't want Ayeka to have even a second with my Tenchi all to herself!"
"Spare me," Damian gagged. Sasami giggled to herself.
"I'll get you back Ryoko, don't worry. What about you all?" Washu asked earnestly. "You all don't have to return back just now, but the offer still stands."
"Don't leave on our account," Dick reminded them. "You all have been a great help so far. It's good to get a new set of eyes on the situation. Do you have any objections Damian?"
The Boy Wonder thought about it for a moment and rolled his eyes. "If you must keep all of these horrible people around, I suppose I will allow it."
"Yay! We get to stay!" Sasami cheered. She hugged Damian, who tried to push her off. "Unhand me woman!"
"It IS nice to have some new blood around," Alfred admitted. "What are your thoughts Miss Barbara? You are just as much family here as Master Richard."
The red head smiled. "I don't have a problem. I'm sure we can find something to keep you all occupied. It can be fun."
"Then it's decided!" Washu clapped her hands. "Come on Ryoko, let's go! I've got to go to the Arctic and talk to a Kryptonian."
After petting Ryo-Ohki for a moment, Ryoko gave a simple wave and wandered through the doorway created by Washu. With that the pair vanished and the Bat-Bunker was now unusually quiet.
"So...what now?" Kiyone asked.
The various people in the Bunker waited for someone to think of a good idea. Dick looked to Alfred and threw his hands up. "Ice cream and a movie? We can even call Tim over to tell him the good news."
"Yay...but who's Tim?"
Back at the Masaki house, Ayeka was in the kitchen struggling to read a cookbook. "Now let's see, if I was to add these pieces of meat to these noodles, the balance would be perfect and the broth would taste heavenly!"
She started to chop up meat and stuck it in her bowl. She then poured a bunch of noodles on top of it and began to add hot water. Humming to herself, the Princess broke her set of chop sticks and stirred it around. Finally, she set her bowl down and knelt on her placemat.
"This looks perfect! I will test its taste to make sure Lord Tenchi will love it!" Ayeka seemed rather pleased with herself. She took her chop sticks and brought some of the noodles and meat to her mouth. At once, she started to gag uncontrollably. "What did I do wrong?! I followed the instructions perfectly!"
"Did you actually cook the meat?"
Ayeka was not surprised to hear Washu and Ryoko return but was annoyed that they chose this time to interrupt her, especially as she was hoping to use this time to get the advantage in her quest to make Tenchi her beloved. "Oh, it's you. How was your American vacation Ryoko? See the sights?"
"Oh I saw sights all right. Sights that would turn your purple hair grey," Ryoko teased.
Ayeka looked intrigued and was willing to take the bait. "I don't suppose you would be willing to share said information now would you?"
"Would you believe that Sasami might have found a boyfriend?" Ryoko smiled like a cheshire cat.
"Preposterous! She has not been there long enough for such behaviors to occur! Who is this boy?"
Ryoko started to chuckle and laugh. "The Boy Blunder!"
Ayeka's eyebrow twitched as she realized exactly what her rival had told her. "I will not allow it! Miss Washu, send me to America RIGHT NOW!" she ordered. However, Washu was nowhere to be found. "Miss Washu? Miss Washu!"
"Looks like your ride is cancelled Princess!" Ryoko roared with laughter. "This is great!"
"Miss Ryoko, this is nothing to jest at! If you think I will allow my sister to get involved with a boy who wields knives as playthings you have another thing coming to you! We are returning to America post haste!"
The space pirate wiped away a tear. "And how are you going to get to America little princess?"
"We will do as the Earthlings do and take a plane!"
"Do you have any idea how you will do that? You don't have any Earth money!"
Ayeka was at a loss for words.
"So you are saying that the corpse I found was one of Bruce's clones? Why would he do that?" Superman was asking the pink haired scientist. The two had remained on friendly terms, as that had been Superman's way all of his life, but this was the first time the two worked together directly on a case.
"Not sure big guy. Perhaps Brucie being sent back to the past was some kind of trap to destroy the planet if Darkseid lost," Washu postulated.
The Man of Steel nodded. "You are suggesting that Bruce was his backup plan. Darkseid would be the kind of God who would attempt to make sure there would be no flaws in his plan. He considered every possibility. What do you suggest we do?"
"Honestly? I suggest we go and check out the area where Bruce was 'killed.' There might be an tachyon trail that can pinpoint us at least to the general time that he was sent to. It's a long shot, but it may work."
"Good idea. I'll get a few people to work on this. I'd appreciate it if you came along as well Professor."
"You want to assemble a team of Time Masters and think to include little old me? I'm flattered!"
"I've heard about you all but I've yet to meet any of you. I have to say, you are all a lot different than what I was picturing," Timothy Drake was telling the girls.
The former Boy Wonder had managed to come by the Penthouse per Alfred's request. He hard dark hair and was slightly tall, but not as tall as Dick. He did not wear his costume at this time and was lounging around in a pair of jeans and a tee shirt.
"Sorry to disappoint you!" Mihoshi bowed. Kiyone elbowed her. "What'd you do that for Kiyone?"
"He was just being polite!"
"So," Tim started as he passed a bowl of popcorn to Sasami, who eagerly tried it with great curiosity. "I hear you all have finally realized I was right."
"Don't brag Drake," Damian jeered. "It's not becoming of you."
"Smooth words for a killer," Tim shot back.
"Boys, this is a celebratory night, not one for bickering!" Alfred curtly told them, diffusing the situation. "We now have proof that Master Bruce is alive! This is marvelous."
"How did you know he was still around Mister Drake?" Sasami asked.
"A portrait," Tim explained. "One of the Wayne portraits looked exactly like Bruce. I knew it had to be him. I knew he had to be there. Finding the paintings in the caves was just the confirmation I was looking for!"
"Tim, you mean at the manor?" Dick inquired. "Which picture?"
"The one labeled Mordecai Wayne. I did some research and it was a later addition to the gallery. That tipped me off."
"Let's assume that your crackpot theory were true Drake," Damian started. "Couldn't Father have fought his way home and is in the present? Perhaps he is changed or disfigured!"
"There is that possibility, I'll give that to you," Tim acknowledged. "But I wouldn't be too sure."
"Why don't you all just look at the manor then?" Mihoshi asked absentmindedly while eating every last bit of the food.
"What? What did you say Mihoshi?" Dick countered.
The blonde started to twirl a braid of her hair. "Well, why haven't you gone to check the mansion yourself? Maybe you can find a clue or something?"
"Damn it! I hate it when she's right!" Damian cursed.
"Mihoshi, you are a genius!" Dick exclaimed merrily. "That's a fantastic idea! If Bruce is stuck in the past and was aware enough to leave behind a prehistoric Bat-Signal, perhaps he left clues elsewhere!"
Alfred rubbed his chin and considered it. "Wayne Manor has been in use for over 200 years and the caves below are believed to have been around since the Stone Age. It stands to reason that Master Bruce could have had a hand in its design, if these theories were true."
"Well what are we waiting for? Let's go to Wayne Manor!" Damian said, punching his hand into his fist.
Dick shook his head. "We aren't going anywhere Tiger. We promised these ladies a movie night and I intend to keep that promise. I also don't think a potentially booby-trapped mansion is the safest place for a young princess."
"Or Mihoshi," Kiyone whispered to herself.
"Besides, don't you have a big meeting tomorrow morning with Lucius Fox and the Board of Directors at Wayne Enterprises?"
Damian's eye twitched. "You mean the incongruities with the finances? Fine, I am merely impatient. Still, it is better that I get my rest. I will also be taking the time tomorrow to challenge Drake's claim as Father's legal heir."
"Good luck with that!" Tim goaded.
"I can kill you where you stand Drake!"
"Not in front of your girlfriend you won't!"
"SHE'S NOT MY...!"
"Whelp," Barbara said, finishing her cup of tea. "This night is turning out just like I expected it."
Dick started to rub his temples. Clearly he was stressed out, but yet, he could not help but smile. 'Bruce is alive!'
'But will we find him?'
Sasami yawned as she woke up in a guest room the next morning. She had such a great time the night before that she didn't mind waking up early. She turned and saw a sleeping ball of fur beside her.
"Wake up Ryo-Ohki! Mr. Pennyworth told me I can cook any time I want! I want to surprise everyone with a good breakfast!"
The cabbit wiped at her eye and meowed softly. "Get up sleepyhead! Let's go!"
She ran down the stairs and made her way into the kitchen. She started humming to herself but stopped dead in her tracks. Ryo-Ohki cocked her head around as well. "Hello? Is anyone there?"
"A most perceptive child. It is amazing how easily the circus acrobat can find strays," an older female voice stated from the shadows. "Please don't scream; it's far too early."
Sasami approached the voice cautiously. She made sure to mask her Juraian energy and found herself facing a mysterious woman. She had dark brown hair and a different complexion than most of the other Earthlings she encountered. Innocently, she put on a happy face. "Hello; I didn't know company was being expected. My name is Sasami, who are you?"
The woman smiled and Sasami felt her eyes piercing her body, examining every inch to discern who she was. "You have good manners young Sasami. You may address me as Lady Talia."
"Talia? Oh! You are Damian's mom!" Sasami bowed in respect. "It is an honor to meet you."
Talia returned it. "A young Japanese woman...are you part of that unnatural superhero community as well?"
"No Lady Talia, I am merely visiting as a friend of your son."
"A friend?" Talia raised an eyebrow. "As a courtesy of your respect, I will gladly explain to you the simple truth: you must know that Damian has no time for friends. All of this is merely a phase that will pass in time. Damian will do great things in this world as a new Alexander."
The words hit Sasami like Tenchi's boken. She had come to consider Damian as a friend, one of the only Earth boys she knew. Her mind drifted to the first time she met him, upset about how the most important person of his life was not there for him. She could tell he was crushed.
Yet, here she was and Sasami knew he would be crushed to see her.
"Honorable Lady, I don't understand."
"Nor would I expect you to child. Damian belongs to another world than you do. He is too big for you."
"But you don't even know me! How can you think of me like that? I just want to be his friend!"
Talia gave the girl a venomous glare. Clearly her opinion of Sasami had plummeted. "My Damian was bred to genetic perfection, not to some Japanese Shinto priest!"
The elevator door suddenly opened. The two women looked to it and listened intently to the conversation that was taking place.
"Pennyworth, I can assure you that my attire is up to company standards. This is a board meeting, not a circus. I..." Damian Wayne stopped and observed Talia and Sasami engaging each other. "Mother...what are you doing here?"
"You invited me here, my son. Don't you remember your call, when you refused my medical aid? You had me so worried," Talia soothed. "I was just talking to this girl who seems to think that you are friends. Where do you think she got this childish notion?"
"Mother, who I choose to associate with is of my concern and my concern alone. Do you not confer with assassins and Nazis and other war criminals?"
"My choice of business associates is not the matter at hand here. The matter is you squandering your potential here in this city playing in tights with a circus oaf when you should be striding across the world like the conqueror you were born to be!" Talia ordered. "It breaks my heart to see you this way."
Damian strode up to her and stood his ground. "This girl is not the issue here Mother. I choose to spend my time with Dick Grayson and Princess Sasami then I will do so!"
Talia set her gaze back to Sasami. "Princess? I have heard of no such princess..."
"She's an alien mother! Does it really matter? Does MY choice matter? Don't you care about what I want?"
The Al Ghul woman chuckled. "Oh Damian, this is all about me and what I want. I'm too much of a perfectionist to be any different. I just want you to want what I want, can't you see that? These people do not care about you, the real you. They want to hold you back and brainwash you into being their mindless puppet."
The boy sighed and collected himself. Sasami wished more than anything to reach out to him, to tell him that people did care about him, but she knew that this was Damian's fight. Alfred, who had remained silent throughout the entire conversation, put his hand on her shoulder to tell her the same thing. "Isn't that the same thing you want for me?" he finally said. "There is nothing more to be said Mother. This is the life I have chosen and these are the people I have allowed to surround myself with. Even if Father comes back and asks me not to be Robin anymore, I will still take pride in what I have done. Can't you just be happy for me?"
Talia's eyes narrowed into slits. "No Dami, I cannot. I would have given you the world, but if that is your choice, so be it. I will always love you in my own way, but you will consider yourself an enemy of the House of Al Ghul."
The pain in Damian's eyes could not be hidden as he was not wearing his domino mask. He returned her gaze and nodded. "Very well Mother...I hope I can be a worthy one."
With that, Talia got up and walked toward the elevator. "Mr. Pennyworth, I will allow you to see me out." She passed Sasami without even acknowledging her and waited for Alfred to escort her off the premises.
"It would be my pleasure Miss Talia. Damian, when I return I will prepare a hearty breakfast so you will be well nourished for your meeting."
It was only when the elevator door closed that Damian allowed himself to collapse in Sasami's arms, letting out the tears that he held back for so long. Sasami could not do anything but pat his head and be there for him.