1725: Love & Bullets – Chapter Seven, Part OnePosted: April 4, 2017
Title: Love & Bullets
URL: Chapter 7
Critiqued by BatJamags (BadJamags and GoodJamags)
What do you need us for? count: 10
Dick is a dick count: 5
Hello once again, patrons! I’m your guest host, BadJamags…
GoodJamags: … And I’m your guest guest host, GoodJamags…
… And we’re back for more of Love & Bullets, the fic which seems rather lacking in love and entirely lacking in bullets.
GoodJamags: There seriously has not been a single bullet since we’ve started this thing. Look!
Bullet count: 0
Anyway, we start out with the usual canned author’s note and-
GoodJamags: Line break!
To get to the start of the chapter.
“Tt,” Damian muttered as he sat scowling at the cold, white world outside his bedroom window.
Well, damn. We’re dealing with this little shit.
GoodJamags: For the record, the “tt” is something he says in the comics, and it doesn’t make any sense there, either.
He’d been sitting in this spot, staring at the same partition of road, waiting for the same person to come home for the last five and a half hours.
Really? I would’ve expected him to go murder something before that point. Maybe bitch about how he isn’t fucking spoiled enough. Ooh, or complain that the author hasn’t made him an animagus-tenth-walker who lives at Stark Tower with the Avengers.
GoodJamags: He’s not that bad of a Gary Stu.
Yes, he is.
His body and brain had started telling him to give up over an hour ago, that he needed to sleep so he could take that stupid biology exam in the morning, that it was pointless to sit here when Kean wasn’t coming home anytime soon anyway, and redundant for him to lose sleep because Grayson couldn’t swallow his pride long enough in order to go and get her.
GoodJamags: There’s not really any reason to wait, though, is there?
Damian refused to move from his position in front of the window, though.
Of course. The snow reminds him of what a special snowflake he is. He’s Batman’s son who’s the bestest assassin evar and grew up getting everything he wanted and he kills people with a sword because cool but he gets to be Robin because bullshit. I am not letting this go.
To move would, in his mind, be akin to giving up on them. It would be like saying he was losing hope in them. It would mean having to admit he was wrong about them.
GoodJamags: No, it wouldn’t. It would mean he’s tired and has an exam in the morning.
And Damian Wayne was many things, but wrong was never one of them.
So why, then, was he twisted up in a dozen different sized knots?
GoodJamags: That’s a very good question. That sounds extraordinarily uncomfortable.
The simple answer was because his world had been flipped completely upside down and turned nearly inside out.
But did you flip it turnways?
Grayson’s complete mishandling of things with Kean had created a chasm between the two that was almost wider than the Grand Canyon.
GoodJamags: If you’re going to use hyperbole in your metaphor, don’t be wishy-washy about it.
*Snorts* Like Damian knows anything about anything romance anything.
And Damian did not like it one iota. He didn’t like whenever Raya and Dick were merely at odds with each other. He didn’t like when they weremad at each other. He found he liked them walking around so miserable even less.
Strangely enough, I don’t give a shit what Damian likes or doesn’t like.
“Tt,” he muttered again as he slouched deeper in his chair, his mouth screwing up into a sneer. “You just had to go and foul things up, didn’t you, Grayson?”
GoodJamags: Well, yeah. Can’t say I’m surprised.
Again, Damian’s not exactly a model of social grace, so he’s not one to judge here.
Even he’d been appalled by the when, where and how of Grayson’s proposal.
If you tell us that it was in a dingy Chicago alley (still waiting to hear why they were in Chicago) one more time, I won’t be responsible for my actions.
GoodJamags: It’s cute how he says that when he can’t actually take action.
He knew Kean would balk the moment she heard the word marriage.
GoodJamags: Yes, BJ?
GoodJamags: With pleasure.
He should have anticipated that her reaction would not be the blubbering one most of the women in those stupid romantic comedies Brown made him watch seemed to have whenever a guy popped the question.
I haven’t watched too many romantic comedies (keep in mind, I watch old movies at least twice a week as a matter of academics, so I have a skewed definition of “not too many”), but I’ve seen my share, and I really have no idea what Brat Wonder here is talking about.
GoodJamags: Ah, and this will likely be our final introduction for the riff, unless we bring in someone more obscure for the author’s obnoxious name-dropping. “Brown,” given Damian’s utterly obnoxious addiction to last names, must refer to Stephanie Brown. Steph’s had an interesting career. She first showed up in the nineties as a supporting character to the Tim Drake Robin.
GoodJamags: Her father was Thomas Brown, AKA the Cluemaster, a minor Batman villain and a second-rate Riddler knockoff (Yes, there are second-rate Riddler knockoffs. No, the Riddler is not considered second-rate himself.). When Steph was a teenager, Thomas promised her that he’d retired from the whole supervillain thing and was going legit. He lied.
GoodJamags: When Steph found out, she made herself a purple Eggplant costume and set out to spoil her father’s plans. Appropriately enough, she took on the name Spoiler. It was sometime after this that the universe decided to make Stephanie its punching bag.
GoodJamags: Aside from getting repeatedly screwed over in Tim’s book for the sake of Tim’s character development, the really nasty part happened when Steph became the fourth Robin. Tim was having a snit-fit, so Batman made Stephanie Robin on what was, out-of-universe and likely in-universe too, a temporary basis.
GoodJamags: The fact that it was only temporary meant that Bruce didn’t trust Steph with his identity, plans, code-names, or tactics. Steph got fed up, and decided to prove herself to Batman by enacting one of his plans to break up the mobs. The problem was that this particular plan required the involvement of one Matches Malone, who is actually a false identity Bats uses to infiltrate criminal circles.
GoodJamags: The plan went straight to hell and caused utter chaos in Gotham. Steph was captured by a villain called Black Mask and tortured with a power drill. Yeah. Then, Leslie Thompson, a close ally of Batman and licensed medical practitioner, Hippocratic oath and all, refused Steph treatment, allowing her to die. Why? Thompson wanted to prove a (admittedly logical) point to Batman that he shouldn’t be putting teenagers in the line of fire. This was later retconned to Thompson having smuggled Steph out of the country, since the aforementioned plot point was generally considered to be dumb.
GoodJamags: Steph returned and became Batgirl next, as I’m pretty sure Cassandra Cain was dead or something at this point (It’s comic books, just go with it). After a rocky start, Oracle acknowledged Steph as the new Batgirl, and Steph was generally well-liked until the stupid reboot reverted her to being Spoiler.
GoodJamags: One of the reasons that Steph is an interesting character is that despite all the crap she’s been through, she’s consistently very optimistic and cheerful. It provides an interesting contrast to the rest of the bat-family (Well, Dick’s relatively upbeat too), and proves that not everything needs to be GRITTY DEPRESSING REALISTIC CHRISTOPHER NOLAN BLAAAAAAAARGH all the time.
Not that she’s actually going to appear in this story, mind you. It’s just that talking about these characters is more interesting than reading this stuff.
He should have handled things much more delicately, approached the situation with caution and logic and shut his rapid fire mouth off. He hadn’t, though and so here they were.
Yeah, Damian talking about caution and logic is funny, since he’s usually the one to go, “Oh, I’ll just decapitate this guy because Grandpa never taught me what consequences are!”
Oh, he didn’t hold Grayson as solely responsible for the vat of chaos he’d been dumped into. No, Kean was just as much at fault as Grayson for the twisted balls of agony he currently was in.
Damian: Let’s face it here, the real issue is how inconvenient all of this is for me!
They were both acting like complete idiots in his mind. Grayson was being stupid by allowing Kean to avoid him like she was. And Kean was stupid for believing that by telling him the truth about what really happened the night her mother was murdered that he would stop loving her.
GoodJamags: Damian’s… actually pretty much right on the money there.
What do you need us for? count: DEFINITELY NOT 11 NO SIR
“Fffff,” was his response to that bit of inanity.
What, the way they’re acting, or the story? Oh, wait, the story is nothing but the author rambling about the way the two lead morons are acting.
Grayson had a shopping list of his own faults and drawbacks. He could be selfish. He could be cold-hearted and cruel. He could be inflexible about listening or accepting anybody’s opinion but his own. He could be reckless and blind when it came to someone hurting a member of the family.
GoodJamags: *Respawning* Wait, is that Dick’s shopping list of Damian’s faults or a general-purpose list of Dick’s faults? I legitimately can’t tell. It being Dick’s faults matches the context, but it being Damian’s faults matches the grammar and Damian’s personality.
Dick also had a habit of shoving people away from him.
Ah, so it’s Dick.
Damian knew it was mostly so he could protect them and himself from being hurt, but it was also the way he dealt with his anger, frustration, fears and stress.
GoodJamags: You’re thinking of Bruce. What you just described is generally used as how Dick and Bruce are different, actually.
Grayson also had Father’s intendancy to bury himself in a case just so he could avoid dealing with complicated interpersonal situations (as well as his own feelings). All of the psychological traumas he’d endured throughout his life, coupled with the things he’d seen and done as Robin (and later, Nightwing) had made him develop the same icy shell that encased Batman (and Bruce Wayne). It was the defense mechanism that kept him from being sucked down into the emotional hell that a great many of those housed in Arkham Asylum lived in.
See, this is the kind of passage that’s masquerading as well-written, but could be cut out and not change anything whatsoever. In fact, we can infer all of this from the last paragraph.
Yet he also knew that Grayson was a man in possession of deep emotions (much as Father was). He felt keenly for the people he allowed close to him and about the people he chose to do his best to protect.
GoodJamags: Dick cares about people he cares about? Excellent observation, Mr. Holmes!
*Alarms stay conspicuously silent*
It’s because the redundancy is your particular way of putting it. Since the DRD comes after us when we read someone else’s redundancies, the DRD will now go after the patrons. Congratulations.
GoodJamags: Oh, heh. Sorry, guys.
And the one thing Damian knew with one hundred percent certainty was that Richard Grayson loved Raya Kean (and vice versa).
I thought the condition was that they can’t get married without bullshitting around for twelve chapters of hell.
GoodJamags: Wrong, BJ. Everything in the story is whatever sounds good to the author at the time. See me after class.
It wasn’t something he’d understood at first, the unconditional love the two had for each other. Gradually, he’d come to understand that they cared for each other, and about each other. By watching Raya and Dick he’d learned what it was to care about someone else’s feelings and well-being. He discovered how doing things that made someone other than himself happy could also bring him the greatest of pleasure. Small touches or glances could convey thoughts, wants, needs or feelings. Love meant loving someone in spite of their flaws, and despite their strengths. Love was uncertainty, and confusion. It was a burning feeling in the pit of the belly, and a type of agitation that beating up thugs didn’t cure. It was a mind-numbing fear for someone’s safety, and a willingness to do whatever was necessary to see the other survive.
GoodJamags: Of course the Sue and the Canon Host Organism’s TWU WUV for each other taught Damian what love was. Of course it did.
“Love, Master Damian,” Alfred had told him when he’d demanded an explanation for the unusual feelings careening around inside of him, “is when one feels so much for a person that it overwhelms nearly everything else.”
Wait, is Damian the one in love here?!
Damian had thought it felt absolutely terrible.
GoodJamags: OK, we get it. Damian doesn’t react to things like a normal human being. He can drop the Grumpy Cat bit now.
Then he’d come to realize how love was only terrible when the people you cared for were away. He’d realized that his happiest moments during the long months Father had been gone were the ones he’d spent with Raya and Dick. He was happy when he was with them.
And he’d come to realize how they were only happy, truly happy, when they were together, as well.
And apparently either didn’t realize that romantic love and platonic love are very different feelings, or he has some very interesting feelings toward those two.
GoodJamags: You know what else is interesting? This line break!
Why do you insist on making me snark literally every line break?
GoodJamags: Stately Wayne Manor. Why is this so hard?!
Three Years Ago.
Oh, that was the vaguely-defined time when the stuff happened!
GoodJamags: Really? I thought the stuff happened later.
He loved listening to her sing.
GoodJamags: *Headdesk* Of course he did. What kind of Sue would be complete without an amazing singing voice?
Not that he would ever admit it, of course.
Because he’s kind of pointlessly obstinate that way.
As Damian watched Raya mop (something he felt Pennyworth should be doing)
GoodJamags: Oh, so we’re still talking about Damian. Nice job establishing that, author.
And he’s still an asshole. Shocking.
the front entry hall floor from his vantage point upon the stairs, he found himself coming to realize just how much he loved listening to her when she would sing.
You just established that, author. STOP FUCKING REPEATING YOURSELF!
And he most especially loved listening to her when she sang this song.
This hauntingly sweet, achingly sad song that seemed to fill the Manor’s cavernous halls with the voices of a hundred women uplifted in synchronous harmony.
GoodJamags: Sounds like your house is being haunted. You might want to call somebody to get that checked out.
Yes, but… who you gonna call?
He didn’t know the words of the song, nor even its title.
See? This clearly isn’t a normal song! If he’s heard it enough to decide that it’s especially good, he should at least know the chorus, and be able to guess what the title is.
He didn’t know what language she was singing the song in, or whether it was even a real song for that matter.
GoodJamags: Oh. Maybe she’s just babbling gibberish and Damian just kind of thinks it sounds nice.
All Damian knew was that when Raya sang this song, the Manor no longer echoed with a burning silence.
For the last time, silence does not echo and it does not burn. STOP MIXING METAPHORS!
Nor was the Manor wrapped in the arms of the cold shadows that always seemed to slither across the floors.
GoodJamags: Author, “slither” is a word that’s associated with snakes, worms, and a few other related creatures. Can you tell me what these creatures have in common?
THEY DON’T HAVE ARMS!
GoodJamags: Aw, I was gonna do the CAPSLOCK SHOUTING this time…
The tangled web of memories that hung over the house were chased away by her dulcet tones. And the dark secrets hidden deep within the Manor’s brick and wooden infrastructure were again locked in their cages. But he’d learned that it was not just this song, or her voice that brought about the changes in the Manor.
It was her.
Oh, for the love of fuck. We’re going to spend the rest of this chapter hearing about how awesome the Sue is, aren’t we?
GoodJamags: What, did you expect plot to happen? Silly BadJamags, plot is for stories about characters who aren’t OMG PERFECT.
In the month since his father’s return, Damian had come to understand that the dozens of little things that Raya said or did was what caused a change, not only in the Manor, but in the people who inhabited it as well.
GoodJamags: Naturally. I mean, if she’s going to insert herself into canon, she can’t just be there, she has to make everything better in ways which will either be undescribed or described in entirely too much detail, even though the characters don’t act noticeably differently from their canon selves (except Dick, who’s been hit by the Suefluence too hard to behave normally).
Now the manner in which she did things was no longer strange to him, had become more of a familiar that felt right for her place within his family. Raya was reason and authority.
Except for how utterly lacking she is in either of those things.
She was truth and justice.
GoodJamags: And the American way!
She was intellect, pride, and passion.
Show, don’t tell.
She fostered his independence and challenged his intellect, nurtured his desire to experiment with new thoughts or ideas.
GoodJamags: Of course she did.
She was his lookout while he stole a sword from Todd.
What the hell is Jason doing with a sword? He’s really more of a gun guy.
His alibi when he dropped a bucket of paint filled water balloons on Drake.
GoodJamags: Oh, now that’s just cruel. And pointlessly immature on the Sue’s part.
His co-conspirator in the Manor’s sudden series of cookie jar heists.
Those dastardly fiends!
His partner in midnight pillow wars with Grayson.
GoodJamags: Huh. I’d have thought that at midnight they’d be out doing bat-family-ish things.
GoodJamags: *Draws Billy the Imaginary Sword and points it at BadJamags* Don’t think I don’t see you on YouTube there. You’ve posted the Tucker clip more than enough times already.
And the bridge between him and the father who was largely still a stranger.
*Headdesk* Of course she was.
In Raya he’d found something he’d thought he only had in Grayson: a friend.
I really can’t wait for this chapter to be over. For the sake of my own sanity, I may be forced to start snipping. But for now, I’ll have to settle for cutting the riff here, since these chapters also can’t have the common courtesy to be short.
What do you need us for? count: 10
Dick is a dick count: 5
Bullet count: 0