Title: A Beautiful Lie
A/N: Why yes! Dick finally DOES make an appearance in this installment!
00 | 01 |
“You are doing a horrible job if you are trying to avoid being seen.”
Damian scowled up at the security camera that was pointed in his direction and took a single step forward, effectively disappearing from the camera’s view beside a rather portly man who took absolutely no notice of him.
He didn’t bother to mutter that the only reason he was doing so poorly was because it was essentially impossible to avoid all the cameras. The security team had done a commendable job. But Mother wouldn’t approve of such an opinion. Partly because they had taken out and replaced the majority of security personnel with relative ease. Mostly because Damian’s suspicions about Bruce Wayne not being in attendance were only being confirmed.
Letting out a sigh that he was sure could be heard through the hidden mike attached behind his wisdom teeth, Damian shut his eyes and concentrated on the sounds and voices that surrounded him.
Everything was well-familiar to him by now. The clinking of glassware, the steady patter of footsteps and the guests mingled from one cluster of friends to the next, the annoying, squawking laugh of Eliza Burchard, wife of William Burchard, a man who was riding of the coattails of his father’s architectural talent, fame, and money.
Frowning, Damian did his best to ignore Mrs. Burchard, something he found difficult to do once he had picked up on her voice. It was nasally, overly-bright, and so false that it made him want to drive blunt objects into everyone’s ears.
"Well, well, well, look who’s here! You’re not the man of the hour!"
"More like the man of the always beyond fashionably late hour." Mr. Burchard’s voice.
"Oh, shush. So what’s going on? Where’s Bruce? I saw him during lunch and he promised he would be here!"
"Sorry, Eliza." Damian’s brow furrowed. He didn’t recognize this newcomer’s voice. "Something came up, so I was handpicked to be thrown to the wolves. I guess you can call me Bruce’s personal replacement."
Eyes snapping open, Damian immediately zeroed in on the direction the voices were coming from. Standing with the Burchards was a young man. Broad shouldered, dark hair, blue eyes, friendly face, couldn’t have been older than twenty-five, and wore a custom tailored suit that was clearly designed to show off the fact that this man was in peak physical condition. Such suits were expensive, and yet this person didn’t carry an air of money as most of the people at this party did. Perhaps he was new to this world?
Damian decided he didn’t care as he headed towards the trio with purpose.
“Damian? What is it? What do you see—?”
Running his tongue smoothly across the back of his teeth, Damian cut off all forms of communication to and from Mother. He would pay dearly for it later, but at the moment, such concerns weren’t important. All that mattered now was finding out more about the man who claimed to be Bruce Wayne’s replacement.
Even before he was capable of properly understanding speech, Damian had been told that he was the one who would be Bruce Wayne’s replacement, or die trying in the process. For eighteen years he had trained, studied, dedicated his life to this dictated goal. How was it possible for someone — an ordinary human, no less — to have been personally chose to take Bruce Wayne’s place for anything? And why hadn’t Mother warned him about such a possibility?
The bewildered stares the Burchards were giving him informed Damian that he had been standing before the group for an amount of time that was generally deemed inappropriate by proper etiquette. The man, though, he looked downright shocked. And not in a pleasantly surprised sort of way.
It made Damian wonder just how much of what Mother said about his parentage was true.
"Uhm, Dick, this is…"
"We’ve never met." Damian cut in, sending a disdainful glance towards Mrs. Burchard. "I would have preferred it that way, but obviously, unfortunate circumstances arose."
Seemingly getting over his shock, the man let out a laugh and shook his head. “I’m Richard. Richard Grayson. But I make everyone call me Dick.”
Damian knew he was failing to grasp whatever joke was being made at the smiles that lit up their small circle. “I’ll call you Grayson,” he informed with a nod, eyes still taking in what details he could of this ‘Dick Grayson’ character.
"Suit yourself," Dick replied with a half-shrug, waving his untouched champagne glass at Damian’s form. "What should I be calling you?"
Damian blinked at the request. No one had ever asked him for his name before. “Damian.” It took him a second to remember to offer his hand as he had been taught.
He barely heard whatever pleasantry Dick had followed up with. As their hands clasped, Damian’s world narrowed down to the rough and callused palm pressing firmly into his own. Beneath his fingers he could feel small scars, both old and new etched into Dick’s skin. He ran his thumb along a particularly long one and refused to release Dick’s hand as he stared up challengingly into his eyes.
Hands like these were only found on one type of person, leaving Damian with little doubt that Dick was one of the very few people alive who not only knew of Bruce Wayne’s secret life, but probably participated in it as well.
This was a threat that needed to be taken care of immediately.
A/N: Upon finishing this chapter, I’ve come to realize I’m not entirely sure of where I’m going to start off the next chapter. HMMM…