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In the Evening

Chapter Text

"You sure about this, kid?" Slade asked him as the helicopter was approaching Infinity Island.

Dick nodded firmly. He was wearing an outfit not very different from Deathstroke's, half orange and half black.

From a distance, Infinity Island didn't even look inhabited. Mountains spanned the large terrain, and no light was emitted from the site. The only thing that brightened the area was the faint glow of stars in the distance.

"Well, you better be, because we're almost there," Slade said, paying more attention to flying the chopper than talking to Dick. Dick's palms were sweaty, even though he knew that there was a minimal chance of something going wrong. Ra's was smart, but so was Dick, and he'd been able to manipulate Ra's more than once in the past. 

His plan was simple. All he would have to do was gain Ra's trust as Deathstroke's apprentice that needed additional training on Infinity Island, and gather intel on why Ra's left the Light and lost control over the League of Shadows.

Easy as pie.

Bruce produced an artificial alpha scent for him to conceal his own, while Zatanna gave him a glamour elixir that he could use to obscure his appearance. This time it was in a liquid state, much unlike the blatantly obvious amulet she gave Artemis, which Ra's was able to discern right away. He could simply drink the elixir and rub the alpha scent on his glands once a week to dispose of any traces of his true self. He had enough of each to last him an entire year, but hopefully he wouldn't have to stay that long.

Dick looked over at Slade. There was no way that the mercenary would ordinarily agree to help him, but Slade owed him a favor after he agreed not to go after him for manipulating Terra.

"Brace yourself," Deathstroke said as he lowered the helicopter. Dick knew that Slade wasn't talking about the landing.

When they reached the ground, Slade opened up the door and stepped out, Dick in tow. Ra's was there waiting for them, along with the red hooded ninja Dick had fought the last time he was there, and the old sensei that had originally captured Brion, Halo, and Forager. 

"Deathstroke. Always a pleasure," Ra's said in an underlyingly bitter tone, confirming Dick's suspicions that Ra's wasn't entirely willing in making this arrangement with Slade. 

Slade didn't bother with formalities, getting straight to the point. "This is Renegade, my apprentice. I expect you to train him just as you would anyone else, and give him no special treatment." His hand was firmly planted on Dick's shoulder. Dick wasn't sure if it was supposed to be a comforting gesture or a signal of aggression, but he wasn't about to ask.

"Do I appear as the type of man to give anyone special treatment, Deathstroke? I would train my own daughter as I would with any other warrior in my ranks, let alone your apprentice," Ra's said pointedly, eyebrows raised. Deathstroke gave him a stern look, but nonetheless jutted out his jaw in acknowledgement. The tension in the air was palpable, even though most of them were wearing scent blockers.

Everyone looked towards Dick, as if they were expecting him to say something. Dick bit his lip under the mask, and let his mind run to think of something to say.

"Father, what is going on?" Talia stepped out of the shadows, much to Dick's immense relief, carrying something in her arms. As she stepped closer, he nearly recoiled in shock. Was that a pup she was holding?

Ra's turned his head to look at her. "I have made an arrangement with Deathstroke. He has recently recruited an apprentice that he expects us to train," he said stiffly.

Talia gave Ra's a look that he couldn't decipher, but he wasn't paying very much attention to her anyway. He was more focused on the pup, who was the spitting image of Bruce at not even a year old, sleeping soundly in her arms.

Dick wasn't the only one fixated on the pup, though. The red hooded ninja put forth his arms, as if he was gesturing for something to be handed over to him. Talia seemed to understand his signal, and placed the mini-Bruce in his outstretched arms. The ninja seemed to relax a little, and curled the pup protectively against his chest.

She shifted her attention to Dick and narrowed her eyes. "How long are we training him for?"

"Until you see him fit to be returned to me," Slade cut in, showing no regard for the standoffishness of both the al Ghuls. Her lips pursed in disapproval, but she nevertheless turned up her head in admission. Dick couldn't bring himself to speak, or even care, his thoughts remaining engrossed on the sleeping bundle.

How was that possible? Talia and Bruce were both alphas. There was no way that she would go out to find an omega or beta to carry Bruce's pup for her, since the heir to the Demon would have to be of her own kin. Perhaps she stole the pup from some random one night standee that Bruce knocked up in order to blackmail him? Did she figure out a way to conceive even though she was an alpha herself?

Silence lingered among the group, the only sounds being the faint chirping of crickets in the background, complimenting the tranquility of the night sky. 

Slade suddenly spoke up again."Well, I'll be off. If you end up killing Renegade, then I'll slaughter you to the point that not even a Lazarus Pit could bring you back." He inclined his head in farewell and turned around, walking back over to the helicopter.

Ra's simply stared Slade down as he climbed back up inside the chopper and started meddling with the controls. Eventually, after Slade had already started to rise into the air, Ra's attention shifted to Dick.

"What's your name, child?"

"That doesn't matter. Just call me Renegade," Dick said in his best impression of a Bad Guy voice. He inwardly cringed, knowing that he would have to try harder to make his cover more believable.

Ra's gave him a look that had distaste written all over it. Dick clenched his jaw and curled his fists to keep himself from trembling. He hadn't constructed his alias any further than Renegade, since Ra's would be able to do a background check if he revealed a name. Making a false identity was much too risky for exposure.

"Very well. My daughter, Talia, will show you to your quarters." With that, Ra's left the two alphas to their affairs, the sensei and red hooded ninja trailing behind him. Dick watched them leave, eyes never straying from the pup.

"You seem very interested in my pup." Talia startled Dick out of his gaze.

Dick quickly thought of a cover. "He looks exactly like Batman. He's an alpha and you're an alpha. I'm curious." He realized that he probably shouldn't have said that, but hopefully she would infer that the apprentice of Deathstroke would be aware of Batman's identity.

"Hm." Talia didn't seem fazed. "I wanted a pup with my beloved, so I created Damian in an artificial womb using DNA samples from both of our cells. It required much dedication and research, but I was able to generate a son with peak genetic ability. One benefit of being born of two alphas is that he is predisposed to be an alpha himself."

Fuck. Now he had one more thing to worry about. Surprisingly, that was a lot more information than he anticipated her to reveal, though. He couldn't help but ask one more question.

"Who is the man that you handed him over to?"

She looked at him curiously, most likely because she wasn't expecting someone so blatant from Deathstroke, but complied nonetheless. "He nurses my son, since I do not produce milk as an alpha. I will not tell you his name, because his existence is a secret that I do not want anyone other than me or my father knowing about."

Dick wasn't expecting that. Not only did he have more intel that he needed to gather about whatever secret Ra's was hiding with this man, but he would've never thought that Ra's would train an omega, since he was known to be very traditional.

"Enough with the questions," she said sternly, demeanor changing completely, "You begin training tomorrow, and you will require as much sleep as you can get. Follow me."

She led him through the silent compound, which seemed so barren when it wasn't housing the League of Shadows. He trailed after her into the main building, and they came to a halt at a simple red door in a hallway of others identical to it. 

"These are your quarters. I expect you awake at sunrise tomorrow morning in the outdoor training area. Goodnight."

Dick walked inside the room and closed the door behind him, waiting to hear her trail away. After checking the chambers for bugs to no avail, he opened the hidden compartments in his armor and fished out two flasks: one for the scent, and one for the elixir.

It was risky to keep them in his quarters, but it was far more reckless carrying them around on him when there was always the chance of losing them. Concealing the flasks under the bed would be too obvious, so he took out a knife and cut a slit into the mattress, sliding both flasks deep inside of it. It wasn't the greatest hiding place, but the room was fairly bleak and left him no other option.

Inside the closet was a couple of garments that he could wear for training and leisure. Dick stripped himself of the armor, changed into something more comfortable, and slid into the bed.

His mind was clouded with thoughts. This undercover mission would go much deeper than he originally anticipated. Not only did he have to find out why Ra's was no longer associated with the League of Shadows and the Light, but he also had to rescue Bruce's test-tube baby and figure out what Ra's was hiding with the red hooded omega.

What the hell did he get himself into?

Chapter Text

Waking up at the ass crack of dawn was something that Dick knew he would never get used to in the upcoming months. He couldn't see the sun, but the ringing of a bell in the distance that he assumed was an alarm parted him from his slumber.

Sighing, Dick lazily stretched his limbs and trotted over to the small bathroom attached to his quarters. Apparently even the Demon himself had a concept of dental hygiene, since there was a toothbrush and toothpaste there waiting for him.

Dick looked at himself in the mirror. The elixir that Zatanna gave him, while it did obstruct his natural appearance, still allowed for his new basic features to stay roughly parallel to his own. His eyes were still blue and his hair was still black, though vaguely curlier, but the rest of his natural bone and facial structure was contorted. He now had a slightly broader form, and his complexion was a tad darker. His physiognomy was completely different, though. He had higher cheekbones, fuller lips, and a sharper jawline, among many other things. The new look almost made him appear more evil, but he assumed that was intentional on Zatanna's part.

Dick scrunched his nose. He didn't like looking at his fake face. Luckily, the training garments given to him came with a mask, so he wouldn't have to deal with it all the time.

His new outfit was pretty much the same ensemble that everyone in the Shadows wore, disregarding the fact that Ra's no longer led the League of Shadows. He had a skin tight black bodysuit that covered all the way up to his nose. It came with a hooded attachment, and the weird black mask thing with bright red lights on it. The only parts of him that were visible were the tips of his hair and the very top of his forehead. It was pretty much the same as Red's getup, minus the, well, red.

Speaking of which, he decided to dub the red-hooded omega Red, since no one would bother telling him his name. There was no way in hell he would end up referring to him as the red hooded ninja for the entirety of this mission.

Dick put on the gear, noticing the similarities between it and his Nightwing costume. He's been told that people can recognize him by just his ass, and this new compact suit wasn't doing him any favors about that.

Dick left his quarters and began the to walk to the outdoor training area. Being up so high in the mountains provided a slight chill that caused him to shiver discreetly.

When he reached the training grounds, both Red and the Sensei were there waiting for him. Talia was off in the distance holding Damian, probably only there because she wanted to observe Dick. Ra's was nowhere in sight.

"My name is Sensei," Sensei said to Dick, voice stern and commanding, "You two are the only ones training here currently, so you two will be fighting against one another."

Dick nodded, noting how Sensei said fighting instead of sparring. He looked over at Talia, who ceased her silence and walked over to Dick. "What is your prefered weapon, child?"

Man, this was the part he was dreading. He definitely couldn't go with his favored escrima sticks, because those were signature to him and would easily get him caught. Dick was well trained with the bo staff, but he knew that he would have to choose something more lethal in order to get her imprimatur.

"A katana," Dick said confidently. Bruce, even with his dislike of virulence, still knew the importance of training his protégés in every field.

She nodded, seemingly in approval. "I will retrieve this weapon for you," she said, walking away.

Another part of training that Dick was dreading was the change in fighting style that he would have to undertake. Normally, his favorite part about brawling was letting his circus roots take over. He loved doing flips and handsprings, but he would have to keep his acrobatics to a minimum if he didn't want to blow his cover. Now, he would have to take on a much more robust and square approach, the exact opposite of what he was accustomed to.

Talia came back, sword in hand, and presented it to Dick. It had a black base with a long blade, and sat comfortably in Dick's hand. Red patted Damian's head before turning back to Sensei.

"I want to see where your skills are at, Renegade. Both of you, take your stances and begin." Sensei instructed. Dick and Red nodded in sync, getting in their positions to face off.

The last time they had fought, it seemed like a pretty even match. Lucky for Dick, he was able to pick up on a few of Red's mannerisms when they clashed, giving Dick an advantage now. Red knew next to nothing about Renegade's style, even though he probably had decent synopsis of Nightwing's. 

Red had an approach that Dick hadn't really come across very often. He seemed to want to go about the poise technique that everyone in the Shadows utilized, but signs of impetuosity would to pop out every so often, as if he was restraining a temper. He assumed that Ra's was training Red to restrain his ire with a graceful style, since anger could only lead to loss in a fight.

When Sensei beckoned them to start, Red charged immediately. Dick wasn't sure if Red was underestimating him, or if that was just what he normally did. Using the prior knowledge that he had, Dick assumed the latter. 

The fight lasted a bit longer than he anticipated, but Dick ended up victorious. Red appeared to have almost as much training as Dick had, but Dick definitely had the edge in field experience. Still, Dick was pretty impressed with Red's skills, and he was excited to continue training with him. 

"Hm. Again." Sensei's face revealed no emotion. Dick inwardly rolled his eyes. Why did all villains abstain from showing any sort of sentiment?

He and Red went at it for at least a few hours. Red got the upper hand on him a handful of times, but Dick won more than he lost. Talia didn't move, even when Damian started fussing. Red would always get distracted when that happened, and it was kind of adorable. The sun was well into the sky by the time Sensei allowed them to rest.

"Both of you may retire to the kitchens. Be back out here in two hours." 

Dick was pleasantly surprised that Sensei was giving them a two hour break, and wiped a bead of sweat off his forehead. Talia handed Damian over to Red, who motioned for Dick to follow him.

They walked through the corridors in silence, Dick trailing after him since he had no idea where the kitchens were. They arrived shortly, and Red gestured for him to sit with his free hand, bouncing the pup with the other.

The kitchens weren't really what he was expecting. In his head, he imagined a grand array of tables and chairs with many appliances and stoves, but the room was fairly small and quaint. They must've had a multitude of small rooms like this throughout the compound in order to feed the mass of assassins they once housed. The stool he was sitting on was attached to a simple kitchen island, and Dick hooked his feet around the legs of the chair.

Red pulled some ingredients out of the fridge, and began to chop vegetables deftly with one hand. Every once in a while, he would give a small, diced piece of carrot or celery to Damian. Dick smiled inwardly, and watched intently as Red put all of the ingredients in a dutch oven over the stove. He worked efficiently and wordlessly, and Dick couldn't help but feel captivated.

When the food was ready, Red pulled out two bowls, filling both of them up gingerly. He handed one over to Dick, and balanced the other one on his arm and set it in front of a stool. After Red grabbed a high chair, he carefully put Damian down in it and sat next to Dick.

Dick pulled off his mask. He could see Red observing him from his peripheral vision.

"Thanks."

Red didn't respond, but tugged down the bottom half of his mask, keeping on the eyepiece so that Dick couldn't see what he properly looked like. He then pulled off his gloves and alternated between eating and cooing at Damian.

Dick shrugged. Ra's probably forbade him from speaking in front of others or something in order to hide who he really was. He took a bite of the soup, and held back a noise of surprise. Red had cooked up a lentil stew that could rival Alfred's cooking.

He could feel Red's gaze as he ate, but he couldn't bring himself to care. Red seemed like a nice guy, and Dick couldn't help but wonder how he got caught up with Ra's al Ghul in the first place.

The rest of the day went by fairly quickly. When he and Red finished eating, they sat around in silence for the remainder of their break. Dick didn't know about him, but he wanted to make the most of the time he got off from the grueling training. 

The remainder of their training for that day wasn't anything too complicated. Sensei went over a couple of techniques that Dick recognized Batman using, and then he and Red had to spar some more. If Dick wasn't so tense from all the pressure of this mission, he might've considered it fun.

For dinner, Red lead him back to the kitchens and heated up the leftovers from lunch. Unsurprisingly, he didn't speak a single word to Dick.

By the time Dick retired to his chambers, he was beat. He was used to endlessly pushing himself, but trying to maintain his cover on top of that made the process much more grueling. All he wanted to do is snuggle up under the covers and never wake up, but his work for the day wasn't done. 

It was probably reckless and stupid, but he wanted to sneak around the compound to look for anything that could give him information of any sort. Since Ra's hadn't appeared at all today, it would be a wasted day if he didn't act now. The perimeter was dark enough that he could stealthily explore the area, and he knew for sure that the only place with cameras was the dungeons, since he had Tim hack the systems a couple weeks ago. Now was as good a time as any.

Dick cracked open his door, peeking out to make sure the coast was clear. He slipped out, using his years of experience to stay in the shadows. Dick made sure to take off his gear in order to make the least amount of noise as possible. He was only wearing a gray tunic with black pants.

Exploring the compound was easier said than done. The place was huge, and he had no idea where everybody was. For all he knew, Ra's could be just around the corner to catch him in the act. 

He hadn't even made it very far before he saw a light on behind a door that was ajar. Dick halted his movements and slowed his breathing, trying to stay as quiet as possible to listen in.

There was hardly any noise coming from the room. Dick furrowed his eyebrows, and slowly approached the light. Keeping himself out of sight, he peeked through the section of the door that was open.

Red was there, mask still on, cradling Damian close to his chest. He was murmuring sweet nothings as the pup nursed. Dick's cheeks flushed, embarrassed, and he felt like he was intruding on an intimate moment. He needed to get out of there.

Dick hurriedly stepped back to get away, but he hit his head on the sconce on the wall. 

Fuck. Rookie mistake.

He could hear Red freeze and draw his sword, and Dick quickly ran through his mind to think of an excuse. It took Red a couple moments, most likely because he was composing himself, but when Red pushed open the door, Dick scratched the back of his neck.

"Uh, hi. Sorry, I didn't mean to disrupt you. I got hungry, and got lost along the way. I thought I was going into the kitchen."

Red tilted his head, as if he was contemplating if Dick was telling the truth or not, but after a minute he nodded. He prodded the door back with his foot and stepped back, a silent invitation into the room.

Dick didn't know why Red was inviting him in, especially since he told him that he wanted to go to the kitchens in his ill-calculated lie. Nevertheless, Dick walked in and subtly took in the scent. It was a cozy and milky, something he would never expect from a place like Infinity Island. Damian was laying in a heap on the floor, looking content and so unlike Bruce. Without a doubt, Dick knew that this was Red's nest.

Red walked over to the corner of his room, and dug through a satchel, pulling out a candy bar and tossed it over to Dick. Dick gave him a surprised look.

"Do they even allow you to have stuff like this here?"

Red shook his head, and Dick knew for certain that he had a smug look behind the mask. Dick smiled at him, and then mentally berated himself for breaking character. Luckily, he didn't think Red would mention anything to Ra's or Talia.

"Here, let's share."

Dick tore open the wrapper and broke the bar in half. It was a kit-kat, and Dick snapped it horizontally instead of along the lines, something that he knew Jason would kill him for if he was here. He handed the bigger half to Red, and started to munch on his portion.

Red pulled down the bottom half of the mask, seemingly glaring at the candy bar. Dick laughed.

"Are you annoyed that I broke it like that?" he giggled, "I knew a guy who hated it when I did that."

The sides of Red's mouth perked up, showing hints of a smile, and Dick openly grinned at him. It was probably very dumb and dangerous to deter so much from his alias, but Dick could think on his feet and easily come up with an excuse if Red snitched to Ra's. Anyways, with the way Red had been acting towards him, Dick highly doubted he would do anything of the sort.

They ate their respective shares of the kit-kat quietly, tenderly watching Damian sleep as they did so. Red's demeanor seemed much more relaxed than it did on the field, and at that moment Dick knew that Red was one of the good guys. Whatever Ra's was doing to him, Dick needed to get him out.

What's one more thing to add to his rapidly multiplying list of things to do during this mission, anyway?

Chapter Text

Jason remembered.

He remembered living out on the streets as an unruly omega, doing things he could never turn back from to survive. He remembered his foolhardy attempt to steal the tires off of the batmobile, only to be confronted by the Bat himself. He remembered swinging from rooftop to rooftop, giggling as the wind brushed his face. He remembered his stupid little crush on his negligent successor that paid him no mind.

He remembered being pushed into the murky, green waters of the Lazarus Pit, rage consuming every bone in his body.

Just under a year ago, Talia went behind her father's back to heal him. Jason wasn't dumb enough to believe that she did it because she cared for him, or out of the goodness of her heart. He knew that she would do whatever it took to find a way to get to Bruce, and bringing two sons to him would definitely catch his attention.

"Jason, focus," a stern voice pulled him from his thoughts.

Talia was standing before him, radiating elegance and confidence as always. "I believe we are in the clear. My father has not shown any signs of suspicion, but we can never be too sure."

Ah, of course. Talia neglected to tell her father that she threw Jason in the Lazarus Pit. If Ra's even suspected a little that Jason had his memories back, he wouldn't fail to use him as blackmail to Bruce as soon as possible. Jason really wouldn't mind that, since Bruce could go eat fucking shit for all he cared. But of course, that went against Talia's personal agenda, since Bruce would never forgive her if she was involved in such a stunt.

Damian cooed where his face was pressed against Jason's chest, and Jason pulled him a little tighter. "He's not catching on. After I pretended recognize Grayson when he came here with his little posse a few months ago, he thinks that I'm slowly regaining memories. For all he knows, I'm still a brainless, catatonic fucking vegetable."

Talia gave him a look of disdain. Jason rolled his eyes and petted Damian's hair.

"Besides, you could get caught for all I care. The only reason I'm agreeing to play pretend for you is because you agreed to help me in whatever plans I have for Bruce when we get the hell out of here."

Speaking of getting the hell out of dodge, Jason had absolutely no idea when that was going to happen. Talia had been trying to find a way to get her, Jason, and Damian safely away from Ra's, but hadn't figured anything out beyond calling Bruce for help so far. 

Jason threatened to reveal everything if she even spoke a word to Bruce. No fucking way he was going to be saved by the guy who wouldn't even kill his murderer. Jason wanted his revenge, and he needed Bruce to think he was still dead to get it. Even if that meant betraying Talia once the time came.

Jason looked down at Damian, silently promising his pup that he would do whatever he could to get them both to safety.

Talia sighed. "You cannot get your revenge if my father spoils our plans. You must play your part and do as he says until I figure out a plan."

"These weekly meetings that you insist on having really aren't helping us out here on the stealth part," Jason pointed out, leaning back on the wall of Talia's room.

She glared at him. "How else do you want to keep in contact? Morse code?"

Jason smirked at that. His sarcasm was rubbing off on her.

"Whatever, I'm out of here. You go figure something out. It's time for Damian to be fed anyway."

With that, Jason put his mask back on and silently stormed out the door, not bothering to look back at Talia as he walked away. Even though all he wanted to do was curl up in his nest, when he was on his way back, Jason halted at Renegade's door.

Renegade. Jason really didn't know what to think about him. He knew that there was much more to Renegade then he let on, but Jason wasn't about to out him to Ra's or Talia. Honestly, Renegade was the closest thing Jason had to a friend since he arrived on this damned island.

Before he could stop himself, Jason lightly knocked on the door. He heard some rustling on the other end, but eventually was greeted by a maskless, disheveled face.

Jason had mixed feelings about Renegade's appearance. It looked kind of fake, but eerily familiar at the same time. Jason tried not to ruminate over it, since thinking about things like that gave him an odd feeling in the pit of his stomach.

"Sorry, I was taking a nap. Come on in." Renegade stepped to the side, a genuine smile on his face. It almost reminded him of Dick's blinding grin that could make nearly anyone feel light on their feet.

It was odd that a guy that was supposed to be the apprentice of the most deadly mercenary in the world was so friendly and sincere.

Renegade hopped on the bed, while Jason awkwardly stood in the middle of the room. "So, whatcha need, Red?"

Jason ticked his head to the side. Red?

"Oh, right! They won't tell me your name, so I have officially dubbed you Red."

Jason held in a snort, but nodded nonetheless. Even if he was allowed to speak, he wouldn't have responded to Renegade's earlier question, since he didn't know the answer himself.

Damian fussed in his arms, and Jason let out a sympathetic noise. He was supposed to be feeding Damian, not talking to mysterious newcomers.

"Can I hold him?"

Jason looked up at Renegade, who seemed surprised with himself for asking the question. Jason knew he should've refused, but something pulled in his gut, and before he knew it, he was handing over the one person that meant most to him in the world over to a complete stranger.

Renegade smiled as he took Damian from Jason's hold, looking down at the pup with a dopey grin that didn't fit in with the rest of his face. Jason observed them silently, ready to pounce if Renegade even attempted to harm Damian in any way.

"You can relax, I'm not going to do anything," Renegade snickered. Jason tried to give him a pointed look, but failed miserably with the mask in the way. Stupid fucking mask.

He stood there for a while, Jason watching as Renegade giggled and bounced the pup, so unlike how he acted during training.

Eventually, Jason knew that he needed to nurse Damian so his pup wouldn't be up all night fussing. He walked over to Renegade, who seemed to take the hint and handed Damian back over. Jason gave a quick wave, soundlessly exiting the room.

When he finally arrived at his nest, Jason removed his scent blockers and took off his tunic. There really was no point in wearing the scent blockers, since he was unpresented when he died. No one would recognize him because of his new omega scent, but Ra's still insisted on it anyway.

Gently pressing Damian to his chest, Jason made a comforting noise. He loved intimate moments like this between him and his pup, and it never failed to make Jason release happy pheromones.

Life was tough, but at least he had Damian to get him through it.