Damian stared out over the city, legs swinging in the emptiness beneath him while he waited for directions. In his earpiece, his father ran down the list of team members, assigning positions as he went.
“Black Bat stays with me. Red Robin, take downtown.”
“Yep,” said Drake’s voice. “On my way.”
“Nightwing, move south and wait for my signal— and keep Robin with you.”
Damian opened his mouth to reply and then shut it again, confused. He wasn’t with Nightwing now. They were, to Damian’s dissatisfaction, most of the city apart, more than that if Grayson moved southward. Damian was flying solo for the night, and the only person actually with Nightwing was—
“Did you… mean Hood?” Grayson asked.
Father clicked out of the voice channel immediately, without finishing his instructions.
“Did he— wow,” said Drake, into the sudden silence.
“He did,” said Grayson. “Maybe something came up?”
“It didn’t,” said Cassandra. “We’re fine.”
“In that case,” said Drake. He exited the channel himself without completing the thought— if, Damian added to himself, you could apply the word “thought” to anything happening inside Drake’s head. Damian didn’t personally believe you could.
The rest of the team followed Drake’s lead, disconnecting one after the other until Damian was the only one still at the regular frequency. He sighed and clicked out himself. He had some idea where the others had gone.
“—genuinely do not care,” said Todd’s voice, as Damian entered the secondary channel, “what you or anybody else thinks about it, because it’s not my name, and as a matter of fact I—”
“Oh come on,” said Drake’s. “You clearly do.”
“I don’t, and if you even think about bringing it up again, I’ll come over there and—”
“Can’t believe he left,” said Grayson, cutting off whatever threat Todd intended to make. “He didn’t even finish his orders.”
“He’s typing them,” said Cassandra.
“Can he hear you?”
“But not us, right?” Drake asked. “He still can’t access this channel?”
“He can’t,” Grayson confirmed. “Say whatever you want.”
“What if we all call Hood ‘Robin' for the rest of the night?”
“I’ll kick your skull in,” said Todd. “Thanks for asking.”
“You’re kinda being an asshole about this.”
Oh good, thought Damian, shifting idly on his ledge. It had been over a week since the last all-out household conflict. He’d been getting bored.
Todd laughed sharply into his own microphone. “You know what? I’ll own that one. I am an asshole. You still have to call me by the right name, Red Robin.”
“Here we go,” muttered Drake.
“See how I used the name you chose? Even though you’re twice the asshole I am, and I’m seconds from punching you, and it’s a stupid name?”
“It’s— you picked it out!”
“And I’m owning that one too! It’s a bad name!”
“I’m not a huge fan of your current one,” said Grayson, “if we’re being honest.”
“God, don’t you start.”
“You named yourself after the Joker, Hood. It’s sort of uncomfortable.”
“Uncomf—” Todd began, half-laughing in a way that made Damian hope that Grayson wasn’t standing within Todd’s reach. “Uncomfortable? I really can’t stress enough how very little I care if my name makes you uncomfortable.”
“I’m just saying.”
“Well, don’t next time. Shut up.”
“Whatever. He didn’t do it on purpose, anyway. He probably just slipped up.”
Damian nodded in agreement, out on his ledge where Todd couldn’t see. Father’s reaction had been too extreme for the mixup to be anything but an accident.
“He can try harder then,” said Todd.
“Or you could chill,” Drake suggested. “Batman called Nightwing the wrong name yesterday, and he didn’t lose his shit about it.”
“Don’t—” Grayson began.
“That’s it,” said Todd. “That’s it, I’m done, I’m— let go of me.”
“No,” said Grayson.
“Let— fine! I changed my mind. I now actively hope my name makes you uncomfortable. Go to hell.”
“There already, I think,” muttered Grayson.
“Ha-fucking-ha,” spat Todd.
Damian heard a brief scuffle on both their lines and wished, absentmindedly, that he had a visual on whatever rooftop they occupied. Whatever they were doing, it didn’t last long— a few moments later, both Grayson and Todd were back, as if they hadn’t been fighting at all.
“Did he call you Robin?” Todd asked.
“I kinda like it,” said Grayson. “Feels like he’s, I don’t know, thinking about old times.”
“Same,” said Drake.
“I’m not speaking to you,” said Todd. “But to Nightwing, yeah, that’s my point. I don’t want him thinking about old times or— or calling me the wrong name because he—”
“Because he only recognizes who you used to be?” Damian put in.
“Exactly. Hello, Actual-Robin.”
“Incoming,” said Cassandra.
Every line in the frequency chimed collectively as they all received the same message: a paragraphs-long essay from Father with the rest of their instructions. Damian skimmed through it, looking for his own assignment, then pushed himself off the concrete, up into a standing position.
“Goodbye,” he said, switching back into the regular channel.
a conversation about names (hero names, real names, pet names, car names *cough*batmobile*cough*, anything)
Happy birthday to me :)