**Disclaimer: I've been sitting on a couple of pieces these last few months and have decided to churn them out. I only hope they're well-received. Just a note, this piece follows Brothers in Arms and explores a few plot points I've felt were (and still are, reboot nonwithstanding) notoriously underserved in the comics. I mean, why create such a girl if no one has any use for her?? I'm looking at you Mr. Daniels...but I digress... Oh, and Damian's preference for the underbelly of social settings is based on some business concerning Kermit Roosevelt's formative years. No disrespect is intended as he is one of my favorite sons of that family.** He'd met Elisabeth at a beach party, one of the inane functions Drake or his father were often insisting he attend. He saw her again visiting the hunt club at various intervals throughout the summer, and again in and out of houses, up and down the hills of Bristol, though the garden fences and riding trails. She rode beautifully and he did like her smile. She never haunted the dives and dens, the dank sopping places he'd grown far too familiar with. In sneaking out of his dormitory every night, he'd wandered into town and drank what he could hustle, snearing at his teetotaling father behind heavy lidded eyes. And in the morning, he'd curse himself for falling below his--their standard. He'd decided to quit Andover before he could be found out and expelled. Waynes had attended the school invariably since the time of its founding and father's reaction had been...cool. But so much later in life than he would have liked, Elisabeth had been taken with him, too pleased at his features and the dark formality of his voice. When he taunted her, cruel in his awkwardness, she'd laughed and been amused. He liked that he could not startle her easily and that she blushed at his nickname for her: his very own harlot in disguise. She was a Warfield, descended from the Mortimers and the Westervelts by way of New York originally and met every social mark and distinction he felt was appropriate in a wife, or an American one at least. So he left a calling card and after seeking his father's advice, began to court her in earnest. He visited her throughout the season, accepting an invitation from her father to stay on through a week at their house in New Brunswick. By October they were engaged and by May they were married. The babies came immediately, Phineas for her father and Nyssa for his aunt. His mother's older sister was a Holocaust survivor and too a dedicated enemy of the house of al Ghul. When she finally permitted herself to die, she left the infants a sizeable income. Damian enjoyed being a husband and father but he knew his stiffness and formality were not easily discarded. Elisabeth had come from a very close, affectionate family and setting up house at the Manor was...trying. On more than one occasion he'd found her crying in her bath after what to him was some imagined slight. He placated her as needed but his affection for her was never too profound. He thought her sharp-witted but silly. And he ultimately elected not to tell her about the Mission, imagining that he could not trust her to refrain from careless gossip. She was not very close to Bruce and they remained only cordial after even two or three years of sharing a house. Damian was their only point of connection most days, or the children sometimes. Bruce was surprisingly gentle with the babies and more often than not Elisabeth simply instructed the nurse to let their grandfather take them for a few hours. Damian always arrived home at a quarter of seven, bathed, dressed and dined with her and his father before devoting an hour or two to the babies. Then he'd find her and undress her and they would go to bed. He was not one for conversation but he was intuitive and she found him to be a very competent, attentive lover. Could she say that he was her evening star? No, she willfully sought diversions outside of their home, in the city or at social functions and he did not stop her, thoroughly immersed in his own life. But in bed...he was very good. And their life together was comfortable if not necessarily overly passionate. He was an excellent provider. As he might himself put it, their life was sufficient. *** It was not what she'd grown accustomed to, not by leaps and bounds. She'd fallen asleep alone, peculiar but not unheard of, and she knew that Wayne Enterprises was engaged in some sort of acquisition, something technical. Damian kept her just informed enough to pass muster but lo how economic shop talk bored her. As it was, the week had seen him burning the proverbial midnight oil down in his study and she didn't care to disturb him. But when he did come up, he did not turn on the lamp and he did not speak to or kiss her. He was somewhat ravenous and his actions, the lay of his palms, the way he ground himself into her was uncomfortable, "Dami..." she attempted to protest, to ask that he slow down. Business frustrations were no excuse to manhandle her, but he smothered her mouth with his, bit her, not gently and forced her onto her stomach. She, now frightened, let herself go limp, submitting to his whims. She caught sight of him in the vague moonlight, in the standing mirror across the room. It wasn't like him to be so forceful. His palm pressed her head against the mattress and she felt him enter her, none too gently at all. He did not carry on with any sort of pretense of pleasing her. Once he'd reached satisfaction, he withdrew and exhaled heavily, raggedly into the back of her neck. She tried to speak again, somewhat more forcefully, indignantly, "Damian?" He didn't respond and she closed her eyes, pretending for a little while to sleep. She heard him sigh and his movements behind her felt foreign somehow. She felt him rise and heard him stretch and crack bones. She turned slightly and watched the sinew of his back, that beautiful bronzed place she'd kissed more times than she remembered. She stared at him, angered and flushed and humiliatingly confused. He glanced back at her and found his pants. She watched him dress and felt nausea spreading throughout her form. He strode towards her bedroom door and let himself out, "Goodnight Mrs. Wayne." When he'd gone she got up and went into the bath, undressed and examined herself in the mirror behind the sink. There were bruises coming in and her face was a deep red. A few sobs escaped despite herself and she wiped her eyes angrily. She'd let him have it over breakfast, then she'd call her mother and ask to stay the weekend. She had not married a brute and would not tolerate one now. Turning the faucet on in the claw tub, she prepared to bathe. *** She'd described his actions and he'd taken credit for them, he did not try in the least to dissuade her otherwise. But... She went to New Brunswick for the summer and wrote but wouldn't call. She did occasionally came to the phone when he called her. She was hurt and embarrassed for them both. It really amounted to rape but she didn't accept that description, even when he--wincing, she did notice--said it aloud once. And she didn't like the way he kept pressing her for details, more than a little...desperate to hear her recount the tale. As if...as if he hadn't been there. She thought him sickening, deciding that they ought to live apart for a little while. His sudden change scared her. In her most recent letter she'd called him a deviant and he'd bristled but still didn't argue. What could he say? It wasn't him? Only a fellow who...looked too much like him but with the wrong eyes? Of course, in the dark she probably couldn't or shouldn't have been expected to tell... He'd seen them once, like his mother's: amber flecked with gold. He'd sat in the wintergarden with father and missed the children aloud. Father had nodded and Damian had buried his face in his arms, uncharacteristically shaken. He'd expected something so much more...direct. Aimed at him, or father, not...not her. Father'd appeared...saddened, deeply saddened. If he'd been home, or Terry... But it all amounted to the same thing. How might one admit that a not-so-carbon copy had snuck into the house and as simply as he pleased...assumed Damian's place? He was shaken by August when she'd notified him of her pregnancy, asking him dully, leadenly if he wouldn't like to name the child. She hadn't wanted any more but there it was, well on its way, so... He'd answered quickly, feigning pride and suggested she name the child whatever she wished. She'd admitted that she hadn't told either of her parents what circumstances had brought her so far north that season, but lacking any great deal of enthusiasm, she'd suggested Solomon. That night, he'd ignored father, ignored Terry, ignored the Mission and gone on a drunk. He was so smug, so upright, still unwilling to allow the world to see him in such a state. So, barring good judgment, he wandered down the lane and found himself halting on an old doorstep. There'd been a grand house there once. An ugly, boasting, overly decorated mass of a house, built by a gangster. It'd disappeared in an infero and afterward, all that had been left was a watchman's cottage, a funny, plucky little structure even older than the house it'd once kept watch over. He walked through the bramble and brush, ignored the snagging weeds and came to the weather worn door. He raised his hand. He knocked. She'd mentioned once, in passing, while they danced. That, now and then, she revisited the old haunt. They'd flirted in Russian and her eyes were...electric. He knocked again and the door creaked open. The place was abandoned, naturally. What did he expect? He tread lightly, noting the layers of dust and grime. She hadn't been in residence in years...and he hadn't seen her name in the Times' society columns, not at least since he'd been married. He blinked hard, not quite ready to admit that he'd looked. He dragged his feet over the carpet and wandered through the spartan place, two rooms, then a kitchen and a bathroom. He found the closet that passed for a bedroom and swept the dustcloth from its place. Dully, numb with whiskey, he sank onto the bedclothes and pretended her scent was somewhere to be found in the duvet. He grasped the covers in his hand and shut his eyes. The minute details of a plan began to swim through his mind. He'd find the bastard, naturally. But what then? Could he trully be a brother to an abomination? And what, exactly, did that make him? And what of Elisabeth? Wouldn't it be better for her if she thought him a brute and kept her distance? He moaned, quietly, not realizing it at first. Then he swore, near silent. Then he slept.