Of Nights So Hollow, Of Legends So Great
Night Culture AU!Batfamily One-Shot
Word Count: 1.8K
Warnings: Angst, Uh..Scary? I guess?
Author's Note: This is based on the wonderful @bunnvoid Night Culture AU and I felt compelled to write this at midnight because I couldn't stop thinking about it. Bunn, I hope I did your ideas justice! Honestly, I keep going back and forth between the drawings to make sure! I had fun writing it! -Thorne
It was said that at the heart of every legend there was a grain of truth. Legends are just pieces of history fabricated beyond wildest belief, built upon by centuries of retelling, each story sewing a new thread into the tapestry from whence it came. But that’s all that legends are. Threads twined together, woven greater and farther than the original fable.
The old castle was a legend. Perhaps not the castle itself, but what supposedly resided inside. Supernatural creatures that skirted down cobblestone alleys and between taverns, seeking out fresh blood in the night. That was one form of the legend, if you believed it. The other form was that of creatures who skirted down cobblestone alleys and between taverns, seeking out evil and destroying it where it plagued innocence.
The chateau lied in the midst of the Devilwood Wilds, just outside the City of Old Gotham. Even during the days when the sun would peek through the gray clouds, it appeared gloomy, blackened stone walls, charred shingles and shutters. The giant Devilwood and Shadow trees prevented sight of the doors of the castle; only the top could be seen, to get the real view, one would’ve had to go into the forest. There was another legend: the horrors of the Wilds.
Whispers on the school-grounds told of a creature, big and terrifying that could be summoned with ritual stones and fresh bat blood; those that summon the beast are never seen again. The adults were less convinced of the idea, though they still forbid their children from reaching even the edges of the forested area. Whilst they believed those that went in were never heard from again, it wasn’t from a creature eating them, but a lack of guidance. Starvation. Wild animals. The freezing fog that made your breath turn to frost.
Timothy remembers hearing those whispers when he passed the old schoolhouse. His mother and father didn’t let him interact with the common children, instead his lessons were taught by private tutors from the wealthiest lands, paid for with the Drake treasure of gold and gemstones.
What more so Timothy remembered was the inhuman being that appeared in his father’s manor, striking down his mother with a slash of black magic, his father following. He remembers the way his father’s eyes rolled back in his skull, fear spreading through his body as he hid in the corner of the room, whimpering and crying. And he most certainly remembered the cold hand of the demon sliding between his shoulder blades before it dug into his skin, piercing his flesh, laughing as he cried out in pain as pricks spread out along his back and down his arms.
Warmth bled down his back as black feathers pushed from his skin and Timothy panted as his fingernails grew in length, sharpening as they darkened. He remembered scrambling to his feet, darting away from the creature as he ran. Forgetting the corpses of his family and staff around him, throwing the door open, bursting into the night, and sprinting down the street, leaving a trail of bloody, black feathers in the direction of the Devilwood Wilds.
The first night was the least remembered but the darkest. Violent and corrupting nightmares slithering inside his head as he tossed and turned along the frigid ground in a feverish deathlike state, the wings at his back only growing in size.
The second night was less nightmare-ridden, but much more painful. Timothy had pierced a wing on a stray Devilwood tree, the syrup like poison only infecting the wound. He was hungry and cold. Exhausted and scared. He tried to remember all the books he read as a child of the knights facing the elements for a week in order to ascend knighthood; he couldn’t seem to recall a thing.
The third night seemed to be his last. He lay huddled up against a raised Shadow tree root, the ebony wood providing stability for his wounded wing. Timothy sniffled, dragging his knees to his chest as he lay his chin on his arms, ignoring the grumbling of his stomach as it ate itself in hunger.
A tree branch creaked above him, and he craned his neck up, eyes widening when he saw the glowing eyes of the masked creature. The legends were right. The creature’s head twisted sideways, reminding Timothy of an owl, then the other way, like it was observing him. It made a noise and he scrambled to the floor of the forest, curling his injured wing above his head and over his body to protect himself.
Timothy whimpered, ready to be torn to shreds, but when no vicious claws or snapping teeth came at him, he carefully peered between his open wing. There lie a satchel, as long as his forearm and as wide as his middle was. He looked up towards the tree branch to where the creature had sat, but there was nothing there anymore; he glanced around, it wasn’t in sight.
He blinked and shuffled towards the satchel, untying the drawstrings with fumbling clawed hands. Inside lay a pair of thick wool socks, a small blanket, and another small bag. Timothy pulled it from the satchel and opened it; half a loaf of bread and a chunk of meat the size of his hand were stowed inside.
Timothy forewent the etiquette he was taught as a child, giving into his ravenous desire as he devoured the meat. It was tender and juicy, the glaze a mixture of honey and cinnamon.
A memory flowed to his mind, the dinner after the rising of the first star, his family and staff all surrounding the dining table, a divine feast laid before them. The smiling faces of his mother and father stilled his hunger and he placed the food back in the satchel, uncurling the wool blanket. Timothy lay underneath the raised Shadow tree roots, one wing curled around him, and he fell into a restless sleep with tears frozen on his cheeks.
When he awoke the next morning, his wing was no longer torn and infected. A new feather had appeared where the wound had been. Timothy wanted to learn to fly. He’d owned a bird once. A Ruby Firebird, with long, crimson-colored feathers and big ruby eyes. It had been his only real friend and he’d watched it a lot. It couldn’t be that hard.
He stretched his wings out, unable to fight the urge to touch them with a single black claw. It tingled. Timothy blinked and beat them, unsure. He beat them again, this time a little harder, keeping at it until with each beat he was able to blow the long grass flat against the ground. A giddy smile came across his lips when the tips of his toes grazed the ground.
What he had not counted on was how tired he was going to get after only a few brief minutes of trying. His wings felt sore. Timothy would try again tomorrow to rise above the tall grass.
The creature would appear at odd times during the night and Timothy had stopped feeling the cold fear in his gut when it did. It never came near him; it just watched with the cocked head, back and forth, then would drop the satchel again and disappear. Sometimes there were scribbles inside. He didn’t know what they meant; but he knew the language. Thaatisgani. An old language his writing teacher had shown him one day. A language long died out amongst the common and even the elite folk.
Timothy wanted to know what it meant. He wanted to know what the creature was. His determination drew him to the front of the castle during the night of the harshest season storm. Lighting crackled across the sky, the thunder rolled along the clouds and the rain came down in torrents. He was freezing and soaked to the bone and the weight of his wings had him crawling up the steps, collapsing at the door.
He weakly raised a clawed hand, one nail scratching the black glazed door and he descended into darkness.
His mother liked to wear scented oils. They smelled of Queen’s Briar and Golden Belladonna. Before he was older, she used to let Timothy sit beside her when she would apply them to her wrist and ears. She would smile at him and tell him stories of far away lands.
Warmth spread across his eyes, and he rolled over in what he thought was his dream, only to roll onto the ground, landing awkwardly on his wings. Timothy whined and unfolded himself off the ground, rubbing his eyes, only to see the creature a hair’s breadth away from his face.
Timothy choked on his fear and scrambled away, only for the creature to grab his shoulder.
He halted, looking back at it. “You speak the common tongue?”
The creature stared at him. “You are Timothy Drake. Son of Earl Drake.”
“I am,” Timothy responded, then looked at his hands. “But my family is…is dead.”
“Killed by a slithering demon from the Farstead realm.”
Tears prickled Timothy’s vision. “It killed my parents and cursed me.” He looked at the creature. “I’m a monster.”
“You’re cursed to believe what you think you are.” The creature waved a glowing hand and Timothy blinked in shock as the wings disappeared and his hands turned to normal. “It’s merely an illusion. You’ve only been tainted with cursed magic.”
It was much too complicated for Timothy to pull apart now. “Can I be healed?”
The creature blinked its glowing obs. “Cursed magic cannot be healed…but it can be trained.” They leaned forward, getting in his face. “I can teach you to control and transform.”
“You’re not going to eat me?”
“Are you sure?”
“You hesitated just a bit right there.”
A bottle rolled out from the corner of the room and the creature sighed, turning its head to it. “Richard. Jason. Come here.”
Two young boys, not that much older than Timothy appeared from behind a corner, guilty looks on their faces as though they’d been caught eavesdropping.
The creature nodded to Timothy. “Take him upstairs. He is dirty and tired.”
The tallest one, Jason, crossed his arms over his chest. “Just like that, Bruce? You’re going to take the witch boy in?”
“Pot-kettle,” Richard coughed, smiling when Jason elbowed him.
The creature, now known as Bruce, sighed. “Take the boy. He is tired.”
Jason and Richard obeyed, each hauling Timothy up under the armpits, leading him to a dimly lit staircase.
“Are you two going to eat me?”
“Yes,” Jason replied without hesitation.
“Jason!” Richard barked. “Stop.” He looked down at Timothy. “We’re not going to eat you Timothy…we’re going to help you. And that includes having a warm bed to sleep in and hot food to eat.”
Tears once again gathered in Timothy’s eyes, and he lowered his head as he sniffled. For once since that night, he felt safe.
These were the legends that prowled the city streets. They were supposed to be vicious and dark, evil and bloodthirsty, not ribbing and warm.
But then again, what are legends, but threads twined together, woven greater and farther than the original fable?
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Happy Pride Month! Here are my headcanons for batfam sexualities and my fav pairings.
Dick: Pansexual; Wally/Dick
I also love Dick and Kori (Cause Teen Titans nostalgia) but the way their relationship ended in the comics sorta ruins it for me.
Jason: Demisexual; Roy/Jason
I do think Jason is still figuring some things out but overall I think of him as demi.
Pre-death I think he was really scared of being gay or liking men, cause growing up with Willis wasn't exactly an accepting environment.
But post-death he was able to come to terms with he sexuality and feel comfortable in exploring it (mainly emotional exploration).
Tim: Asexual/Homoromantic; Kon/Tim
Am I projecting? Probs. Do I care? Nope!
Tim loves physical affection and he isn't sex repulsed, but sex just it's not it? Like it's a thing and sure it's, uh, interesting? But like it ain't all that.
Being ace was super confusing for Tim cause for a long time he didn't realize you could be ace and still like cuddling/kissing. It was so confusing to him until he finally talked to Jason (who had been researching sexuality and shit) and Jason actually explained the ace spectrum.
Damian: IS ALWAYS A BBY IN MY MIND SO IDK
I always see him as a bby so he hasn't thought about it.
But when he's older I tend to think of him as ace or demi (mainly cause I want more characters on the ace spectrum. Like represent me pls).
Duke is also on the younger side and hasn't thought a whole lot about sexuality in my mind.
She's a gay disaster and I love her.
Also she has a huge crush on Black Canary (mostly in an idolizing way tbh).
I'd imagine that after her not so typical childhood Cass is still trying to figure out who she is as a person and honestly has sorta put romance/relationships on the back burner. Because of this she hasn't put much thought in to it.
She thinks she might be pan so she's been talking with Dick about it, but she's still confused.
Barbara: Fluid; Kara/Babs (based on The New Batman Series)
Babs doesn't really associate her self with a specific sexuality.
Usually she goes for more masculine ppl but she'd not quite straight.
I can easily see Bruce being bi or pan, but tbh I just love imagining straight Bruce who never knew anything about the queer community trying to figuring out how to support his children
Like Bruce going to pride for the first time absolutely decked out cause he maybe emotionally constipated but he will always support his queer disaster children.
Just a quick little side note: Sexuality is complicated and confusing. I have struggled most of my life trying to figure out where I fit in on the spectrum of sexuality. But, now that I've had more time to become comfortable with my sexuality and my self, I've realized I will never fit one label perfectly. Sexuality is a spectrum nothing is perfect, labels have flaws, and we are all just human. So, if you're struggling with your sexuality, I get that and I know it's rough, but it does get easier. And if you're weirded out by me assigning sexualities to random characters, well... idk what to tell you, sucks to suck? Like I grew up with almost no representation so of course I want to see my favorite characters fit into a community I am apart of. Also if we're being honest comic books are basically company approved fanfiction. Like timelines are bullshit, characterizations change constantly, and there are a shit ton of random pairings. So in my mind comics are made to be fucked with.
Thank you for coming to my ted talk :)
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