Family Matters

Summary:
November 5, 2014: Talia and Damian have a family meeting in which Talia proves she's mother of the year.

Harlem - New York City

Harlem used to be a mostly African-American through the decades, though this
is no longer true (African-Americans are presently about 40 of the
population.) The neighborhood has been the site of a number of amazing
artistic booms, usually followed by equally devastating busts. Presently the
area is slowly gentrifying, as is much of Manhattan. Other places of note
include the Harlem Dance Theater whose troupe has toured internationally, the
Harlem School of Arts, two well regarded hospitals and the City College of
New York.


Characters

NPCs

  • None

Mood Music:
[*<http://insert.video.or.music.link.here>]


Damian wakes up in the same hostel he's slept in for the past 6 nights. It's not comfortable, but it's cheap. And it's not far from a train station that will take him out to the Titans compound. Or close to it at least. There's still the 4 mile jog, but with a young man of his training that's not a big deal.

He stretches and cracks his back, wiping at his eyes as he begins to gather his meager belongings. Being outs on the family income is a real pain in the ass. Kate had told him she was going to let him use her motorcycle, but that hasn't come to fruition yet, so this is his existence at the moment. A far cry from halfway across the world.

He walks out into the mess hall, skipping out on the greasy stuff these people call breakfast. All of the meat. Disgusting. He winces a bit as the sunshine hits him in the eyes and begins to walk on the New York streets, heading to find the train.

There may be a prickling at the back of Damian's neck. The feeling of being watched. It's been with him since the mess hall. Maybe even before the mess hall - it might have been since he left his room.

However, as he makes his way to the train, there is woman leaning against the railing of the stairs to the subway. She looks very different from the tailored business woman that she is normally known as in Gotham. Her hair is pulled back, her clothing is tighter, dark and more easily described as biker chic. It has been many years, but Damian may still recognize Talia al'Ghul when he stand in front of her.

"Damian," she greets simply. There is a slight warmth to her voice, but that may just be due to an attempt to grab his attention.

Damian stops. He recognizes her by the voice more than the way she looks. He turns slowly, first his head and then his body. He's wearing a faded olive jacket over a grey hoodie and ratty jeans. He doesn't look much like the son of a billionaire.

"Mother."

There's a brief pause; it takes a lot to put Damian off. To get him off kilter like this-well, Tim would certainly liked to have been here for this.

"What are you doing here?" The voice is cold.

There's a bit of a smirk to see the expression on Damian's face. He may have the name of 'Wayne' but he is still an al'Ghul through upbringing and heritage. His mother's arms are crossed effortlessly in front of her, but at the recognition, she straightens. Though she does not attempt to move closer, there is a certain purposefulness in her movement.

"I've been here for quite awhile, my son," she tells him, her crisp British accent melding more into something less identifiable when speaking with Damian. "I have been watching, observing. You did not think you were the only one to think of seeking out this place for fortune, did you?" There's a raised eyebrow at that.

Her eyes drift past him toward the place that he came from. "But, this is how I find you? My son living in some beggar's house?"

"Fortune isn't why I came here, mother. You know precisely why I did," Damian snaps back. "And while I may be going through trials, I'm nowhere near destitute. I was raised not to care for opulence. You know that."

He mutters, "I came to meet my father." He doesn't remark upon how his father is a couple hundred miles to the south, living in a large house. "I found something more. I made the right decision."

The smirk does not leave Talia's face as she watches Damian and his reaction to her words. "You will never be destitute. Not as long as you have family," she tells him. Even if it seems he will reject that family. "But, you know you do not need to live here. I would provide for you, my son. Even when your father would not."

Finally there is a bit of hardness in her tone when speaking Damian's father. "And now you have met him. Did it live up to your expectations? He is a grand man in Gotham, yes. But, as you have seen, he is still a man. He is no head of the Demon. He has found you, what, too violent for his precious sensibilities? Too willing to act upon the moral decay on the streets?"

Now, Talia moves forward - slow and sinuous. "And what decision is that? To live in a hostel? To be disdained by a father who refuses to acknowledge what is right in front of him? To love an adopted son more than his flesh and blood? What is the decision you have made righteously?"

Even now, she can push his buttons like she always was able to when he was a child. "You left me as much as he did. You left me with /him./" The him is not, of course, Bruce, but his grandfather Ra's al Ghul. "Destitute is a far cry from where I'm at, mother. I do not need much in the way of money to survive."

But as the adopted son comes up, Damian nearly turns into a rage, "He is a damn fool. Both of them, indeed. It's more than methods, it's a philosophy in a way of life. An acceptance of inefficiency. Of being soft. Of being weak. In their realm weakness is a virtue. Immorality is something to revel in. I cannot fathom it. So I don't. I've charted my own course, mother."

"I did, yes. Life is hardship, son." Talia gives Damian a hard look at what she might perceive as whining at her treatment of him. "I left you a more than capable teacher." She knows all too well how Ra's teaches, of course, having been raised by him. "I left you to teach you a lesson about the world. Because you are the blood of the Demon. To give you a soft life would have been as good as to murder you."

Her voice softens, though it never quite loses its edge. It may be impossible for that to happen unless she is playing a certain part. Talia al'Ghul is made of edges - even wrapping them in silk will not change that. "It is not money I speak of, Damian. It is family. Come back to us."

There is a slight feeling of triumph at the anger he feels toward Tim. "Your father had that even when I knew him. It will never change. He will always be weak because he will never be willing to do what is needed to be done." She raises an eyebrow. "And what is this course you have charted for yourself?"

"You're right. Life is hardship. And if you consider spending the evening at a hostel hardship, then you should not critique my life." Talia kind of puts Damian in his place over the issue of Ra's. Without his training, would have ended up like Tim? Shudder to think.

"You want me to come back? Why? I have no interest in going back to Asia and being a slave to someone else's ideals. Not my mother's. Not my grandfather's. And not my father's. I'm living on my own and I've never been better or more sharp."

"I've joined the Titans."

"That is not the hardship I speak of," Talia tells him, eyebrow raised. "You have lived in harsher situations. As have I and your grandfather. The fact that you continue to speak of money as a deciding factor only shows me your own preoccupation of it. You should learn to hold your tongue in your attempted insults." As a businesswoman and the presumed head of the League of Shadows, she is not about to verbally taken down by her son.

"The Titans." At that, his mother rolls her eyes and sighs. "Why would you do such a thing? You think the Titans will enslave you less to their ideals? You think they will be less squeamish than your father? The moment a movement attempts to define themselves to the world is the moment it loses its ability to govern itself. You have only enslaved yourself to another ideal."

She sighs and shakes her head. "Your grandfather is dead and I do not wish you to leave here. Asia is not where my interests lie."

"If I'm enslaved, then it is by my own choice for once in my life," Damian responds, putting his hands in his pockets. The news of his grandfather's desk forces him to take just a brief pause and he whets his lips as he does so, about a million things rushing through his head at once.

"I'm sorry, mother, but I've reached the age of maturity. What you wish and do not wish is no longer of great importance to me. I'll make my own decisions on where I go. Regardless of your interests."

"Yes, you do." Talia watches Damian, watches his hands go into his pockets and watches his reactions to the news of Ra's' death. "You are a man, now, Damian. I have no control over your life. I am not saying that I do. I am presenting you your options. I, obviously, have a certain interest in some of them."

Finally, there is a smile for her son, something of a relieved gesture. "You see, you are of the line of the Demon's Head. If you are not interested in the position, then, there is no trouble here. Ra's was quite adamant on a male successor, you see. Old habits. Misogyny. The usual. It was my duty to try and convince you of your path. But. Now that you are convinced, as I see you are, then, I will leave you to your path. I know we have not been close, my son, but if you do require assistance, I do urge you to call on me. I am not far."

The words make Damian think. If he were to be the next in the line of the Demon's Head. If he /could/ ascend to the position, he could use it to serve not the aims of his father but of his own. Far better than the Titans, far more effective than his father, it could serve as a force of good throughout the world. He could outshine both his father and his grandfather.

"With grandfather dead, the line doesn't matter. Certainly you will step in as their leader, and you will do an effective job." Part of him would like nothing more than to run back to his mother. Part of him knows he never can. "What if I do not require assistance? May I still call upon you?"

"The line always matters, Damian," Talia tells her son with a firm voice. "Yes, if you do not step into the title, I will. I have done so lately in your absence and I will continue to do so if you ignore your claim."

She reaches forward now, the important part of this conversation. "If you give up the title now, if you ever wish it back you will have to fight me for it, son." While before she may have been flippant, now she is all seriousness. This is the tone of a pact between the two of them. However, the seriousness fades only slightly to something more approaching a fond smile. "And if you do ever wish to call on me in a personal sense, you may. You are, after all, my son."

"Mother, for once I want you to be completely open with me. Completely honest. No hidden agendas, nothing of the sort. Just complete honestly."

Damian looks into her eyes, hoping to gain some sort of insight. "Do you want that title? What do you truly want? If it's to be the Demon's Head, then take it. Take it all. It's my gift to you."

To be truly open with anyone is something that no one has ever asked of Talia al'Ghul. It is not the al'Ghul way. The suggestion leaves an uncomfortable expression on the woman's face. "It is either me or the League will devolve into infighting that will last for years and span over thousands of cities." She sighs. "More than that, the League could be used for so many better things than Ra's used it for. I wish to do good with my leadership, Damian."

She shakes her head. "I do not wish to be the Demon's Head. Father will always be that. But, I wish the League to help where others failed. I wish to be there when the squeamish, like your father, fail. But, you are my son. I will not deny you a right that may be yours by birth."

"It is yours, mother. I renounce my right, and I wish you luck. I know that you will not need it. I don't envision a time that you might need my help, but if you do, please don't hesitate to contact me." For his part, Damian does not seem to be disappointed in the slightest. Truth be told, he has great faith in his mother and is certain she will succeed where Ra's failed.

"To hell with misogyny, mother. You will shape the world."

Damian's not sure what the process is for renouncing his right, but doesn't seem to care. "I could lead. And I would be phenomenal. But you will be even better."

"I have no doubts of that fact, my son," Talia gives Damian a beatific smile at his renouncing of his rights to the League. "Thank you." There is a slight bow of her head at the exchange of the rights. "If I do need your help, I will be sure to contact you." However, it may be no mistake that she contacted him after all these years now to bring up his grandfather's death.

"Yes, but we shall never know. I will lead the League properly in your absence." A hand reaches into her pocket and stops the dictaphone there in barely the moment is necessary to do so. After that, she moves forward to kiss Damian on the forehead with all the motherly affection the child missed growing up.

"Should you need me, give a call. You should know where to find me." And if he does not, then he does not need to speak with her. As always, that is the al'Ghul way.

Damian stays motionless as his mother's lips brush his forehead. Does he trust her? He's not so sure. Does he love her? As much as he can love anyone. He's not entirely sure, either, whether this was just a staging event for her to gain power. Tempted, sure, but he was smart enough to know that being the new leader would make him a target.

Perhaps this is what she wanted all along. And if it was, it makes more sense for him to give it to her rather than become her rival. "I do. Take care, mother."

There are many things that are missing or questionable in the al'Ghul family tree. Love and affection are certainly part of that. Talia gives Damian an affectionate smile, but then turns to leave. Everything in their family is love coated in a power play. The affection for her son and his denouncement of his power would never be exempt from such a thing.

"I always do. Take care of yourself, Damian, my love," she tells him. There is just enough sentiment in that goodbye to express some sort of regret for how her life and his turned out. But, she is the Daughter of the Demon and Damian is her son. There were very few ways this could turn out where they would both still be alive today. It is a regretful thing, but Talia does not - ever - regret that her son is strong enough to survive to this day. In fact, she takes pride in that. Even if it is not hers to give.


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