Two thousand seven hundred and thirty-nine days without seeing his family. Without seeing their faces, hearing their voices or so much as even knowing if they're alive. He doesn't know if they lived past the initial attack, or even if they lived past all those days, almost three thousand of them. Had they found shelter like he had? We're they together? We're they looking for him as desperately as he was looking for them? He wonders if they're living like he is, or i their bodies are littered about the country, unidentifiable now, long gone to the creatures that roam the earth, the winners of the governments game of cat and mouse.
Damian feels much like a mouse scurrying around in peoples walls now. Locked away and hidden from the cats, cowering and afraid underground and waiting for the moment to strike. He misses his family more than he hates being locked in an underground bunker, unable to see the sky or breath the air, doing the same things everyday until his mind goes numb, like it always does. He wonders how much his family has grown in these 7 years without him, have they grown like he has?
Dick would be 25 now. Damian refuses to stop counting the days on makeshift handmade calendars, he refuses to let their birthdays go by ignored and unnoticed. Jason would be 22 at this point, so much older than the very reckless teenager he was, it's practically all the freedom he could ever have, a legal adult who could vote, but he never even got the chance. Jason would be mad someone killed the president before he could.
Even though he's separated from his family, even though he's so alone now, he hope's their together, that they have each other in whatever bunker they found themselves in. Damian dreams of Tim and Jason playing games with him, Dick clapping him on the back happily, Barbara giggling at their side, Cass and Steph keeping themselves busy with whatever they can, he imagines the rest of his family, happy and healthy despite the circumstances. Because they're Wayne's, and Wayne's are always stronger together.
When Damian was nine years old him and Jon Kent were laying in the green hills somewhere between Gotham and the city over, watching the sky set, Damian was sketching his friend out in his sketchbook, as he pulled stupid faces, his tongue sticking out and giving a smolder. He looked so much like his parents, his too bright blue eyes and milky white skin, he looked like a porcelain doll most of the time, precious and fragile.
"You didn't get my eyebrows right," Jon had grumbles, without heat. His chin was hooked over Damian's shoulder, watching the boy sketch, the page was filled with Jon's different phases, intercut with drawings of the flowers on the hills, the flowers in Jon's hair, they were lavender. "I got your eyebrows perfectly right." Damian had said, sighing. Their days together were getting shorter, curfews pushing up higher because of the ever present concerns going on in the world.
Damian hadn't expected it to come so soon, to see the bits of debris falling from the sky so soon, plummeting down into their atmosphere. He saw them that day, heard the sirens, he had perked his head up, feeling his friend going tense behind him, and Damian folded his sketchbook close, knowing what was coming. His family had prepared for this extensively for weeks, the bunker in their home prepared for decades worth of food and water.
Then came the whistling, the sky was falling, a huge hunk of a meteor falling down right in front of them, albeit miles and miles away, but unmistakable and impossible to miss, they watched it land in shell shocked horror, the realization finally setting in that the world would never be the same.
"Hurry Kent, are families need us." He grabbed Jon's hand, clammy and sweaty in his, slung their backpacks over their shoulders and looked to his best friend for even just a moment. He had know him since he was born, Jon was only a year younger, he had held Jon in his arms, they had grown up together, the only ones close enough in age. They played pretend and went to the zoo, attended every class together, inseparable in every sense of the word, and he always knew they wouldn't ever part for the rest of their lives. Damian wipes a tear from his friends face.
"It'll be okay Jon." He assured, but he doesn't even know if it will be, but he grabbed his hand and ran, pulling his friend down the hills and then back to the house, the hills lead to the back of his father's manor, the place he had called home his entire life, the place he would stay throughout the apocalypse.
Damian ran through the door, Jon's hand still clutched in his, both boys sweaty and disheveled from their run. But no one was there, Damian could always tell when the house was empty, and this time it was, it certainly was empty, corridors empty, bedrooms cleared out, the entire house too still, too quiet for their ever growing family.
"They're gone?" Jon asked. "Bunker?" And they had checked, the entire place was stocked full, but no one was there, Damian had truly felt the panic set in then, stomach dropping out, skin growing hot and feeling dizzy. He remembers the phone ringing, he remembers picking it up, Dick on the other line, screaming that they had been searching for him, he named a street and Damian was gone, Jon following him behind as they ran and ran again.
They almost collided with their family as they finally realized what they were faced with. The busier streets of Gotham were worse than they had ever been, crawling with creatures. Damian stared at them, he slowly realized what they were, they were animals, but everything was different, they were bigger, darker and more disgusting looking, a slime like substance oozing from them, the one he was looking at now almost looked like a caterpillar.
"Damian!" It was his mother, his mama, Talia, calling to him, waving her arm to him, she had stepped out of the car, running toward him through the street, screaming his name, Damian remembers making the worst mistake of his life, and he let go of Jon's hand, running straight for his mama.
Then he watched as the giant caterpillar creature crushed her beneath it.
Turns out that during the apocalypse, people like to pair up with each other. Or just kiss everybody in their bunker as a means of experimenting until nothing really means anything anymore. Billy and Emiko are on their fifth breakup of the month. At least Rachel and Gar found solace in one another, they're much older than most of the kids here.
Damian doesn't entirely remember how it happened, getting in a bunker with Dick's own friends along with Emiko, Billy, Jackson, Wallace, Xiomara, Alinta, Merissa, Connor and Maps. A colony of children when they began, now all having grown up, Damian watched these children he went to school with slowly grow and age, be forced to mature, to keep themselves alive in the worst of circumstances, Damian was raised by his brothers best friends, mostly teenagers themselves when this all began.
Now young adults who deserved to have a life with his brother, their best friend, Kory, who still pines for Dick everyday, asks Damian if he's found Dick's colony yet on the radio, but so far, no luck. Colony information is like a game of telephone, once you manage to get access to a working radio, you have to tune it to a station another colony is on, if they got as lucky with a radio, and then you get their information.
Damian and Jackson put it together once Billy and Xiomara finally got a radio up and running, they contacted every colony they could find in the vicinity, and kept going. They wrote down each member of the colony, their coordinates, city, and defining features, how far apart they were. If you were lucky enough, you could find a colony close enough to you and send out a team and trade with them.
But the thing with most radios, is that they don't go that far, Damian has estimated that there radio only goes up a hundred miles, but Damian had long since figured out how to get information on colony's a hundred or more miles out from him. He picked the colony's they could access the farthest away, one in each direction, and contacted them all, then began his lists of colonies farther and farther away, passed the message along to the colonies farther away, and in turn the ones hundreds of miles out passed information about other colonies back to him like a game of telephone.
Damian has only got about 1,100 miles out in this tedious process, tens of colonies turned into hundreds, now he knows of exactly one thousand and thirty one colonies within over a thousand miles near him, none of them have any information on his family. Not the immediate family anyway. Almost 300 miles away he managed to find Harley and Ivy, his surrogate self titled Godmothers, and about 200 miles away he found the Fox clan.
He hasn't found anything on the Kent's either, Jon, Clark, Lois, Conner and Kara are off the grid, or he just hasn't reached Kansas yet, which is true. He's halfway through Missouri on his radio calls, and it's such a tedious process to get the locations of every colony through, he's managed to get it down so that only 12 other colonies here the information before him, but the number gets higher the farther he goes out.
He's jealous of Billy, who's family is in a colony less than a hundred miles away, up in Pennsylvania, he can talk to them everyday, and it's enough for him. Does he not feel the urge to leave every time he speaks to them? Does he not want to get up and run from their own colony to finally be reunited with his family? His people. Damian would do anything to finally see his family again, even if it means going thousands of miles away, crossing the country crawling with creatures, crossing oceans, crossing the entire world to family see their faces again.
In the beginning, accessing colony's made him excited, that he would soon access his family, they had to have been close, but nothing, nothing of any value, the one inkling he had ever gotten that any of them were alive was that in a colony 500 miles away they said a drifter had passed by who called herself Oracle, and gave them the radio they had talked on, that she had red hair, and used crutches.
It had to have been Barbara Gordon. Her username on anything was Oracle, her gamer tag, all her social media's. She had been shot during one of Gotham's many attacks and left unable to walk, she used a wheelchair for years, but maybe it had gotten damaged in the years gone by. He knew it had to be Barbara, but he had no other information. Damian felt like he was going insane every time he accessed the radio to hear the stats from the four corner of his other colonies.
It had quickly turned into three, the ocean to wide too access anyone on the other side, but they had gone as far up as Canada and as low down as Mexico, and nothing yet. He see's the looks Kory and Rachel give him when he's on the radio, furiously writing down all the information he learns, he knows that they've all accepted that his family is dead, that they believe that they must be. It hurts to look at them all, knowing they think his family is dead, that his dedication to finding them is merely a pipe dream, a boy gone insane with his own grief.
Damian loves his colony, but they will never be his family. They're too close together, no bedrooms, just sheets on hooks and nailed into the wall keeping their rooms separate, and Damian is in between Billy and Rachel, so he is always perpetually in hell. Whether its Billy and Emiko's arguing that they never seem to stop doing or Gar and Rachel's sex noises when they think they're being quiet.
Damian's room is small, nothing like his last one, his mattress is on the floor wrapped tightly in a garbage bag, he has a fitted sheet and three blankets, two pillows and Jon Kent's stuffed bear. He has a desk Jackson made for him where he keeps all his stuff, his multiple sketchbooks filled to the brim with at first colored drawings, slowly turning into pencil and pen sketches, and then mostly all charcoal and pencil. He can't afford to waste what's left of his colored pencils.
Kory is cooking dinner for them tonight, she had quickly taken on the paternal roll like it was made for her, and Damian's heart lurches whenever he forgets. It was, Kory was a mom. Mari Grayson was her daughter, their daughter, and she has no idea where her daughter or Dick is, she believes them to be dead.
The children as Kory still calls them, all sitting at the long table they had added on to, miss matching wood and two long table clothes strewn across them. They're a fairly small colony, Damian has learned. Most colonies exist of at least 35 or more, at least 90% of them do. But they only have 15 members, and only 5 of them are even adults. The rest are teenagers like Damian, 17 to 15. Damian cannot image the struggle of raising one teenager in the real world, let alone 10 in the apocalypse. But they seem mentally well enough.
It's pasta for dinner. Like almost every night. Just changed by the canned fruit or veggie they get that night, tonight its canned peaches. The only things they ever eat are soups, chilis and Twinkie's, those don't expire.
Damian thinks that they're disgusting either way.
Dinner is a quiet affair, dinner ate quickly all each kid excusing themself after chowing down, quickly washing their plate like they do every night and disappearing off to their individual interests they've been forced to develop over the years. The only thing strange about this dinner, is that when Damian tries to excuse himself, Victor Stone tells him to sit back down.
"What is the meaning of this Stone?" He asks curtly. The only other people at the table are the five adults he was raised with. Suddenly in that moment he hates them all.
"We think that you need to be relieved of your radio duties. Give the other kids a chance to speak over them, yeah?" Kory asks him kindly, and Damian freezes at her words. She's a liar, and a bad one at that. She doesn't want the other children to have a chance, it's not a toy, it's their only means of communication, their only way to speak to the other colonies. He spent years getting every colony in the area on the same frequency for the sake of easiness, he made sure everyone understood their radio, that trades went smoothly, he was a hub for information.
If people wanted to know if someone was at another colony, they contacted him. No other person in his colony could do it as good as he did, nobody would understand his notes, nobody knew these people like he did, they didn't spend years speaking to them all. They want him off the radio so he'll stop looking, so he will stop dragging on the inevitable, they want him to stop searching for his family.
"Absolutely not. Nobody understands those radios like I do." Barbara and Tim would've. "No one knows these people, they won't understand my notes. I will find them Kory." They all knew who he was talking about. "Damian..." Gar said gently.
"No!" Donna cut off. "Kid needs a reality check. You saw us less than 5 minutes after you lost your family!" she shouts at him, "You think they managed to get all the way out to Kansas?! Even farther? We indulged your dreams for seven damn years Damian. But it's not a dream anymore! This is insanity. The Wayne's are dead, and you have to accept that!"
"You have no right to speak me to like that. You have no idea what I have done for this colony. Gotten us resources, saved us from creature attacks, kept us from starving! From freezing in the middle of the night! And this is the thanks I receive in turn? A scolding about how I need to give up on my family? You are certainly lucky Donna Prince, that you at least know your family is alive, that you can send messages to one another, you are privileged to get to at least know your sisters life. Meanwhile I don't even know if my family still walks this earth. And I will not give up until I know whether or not they are."
He know's the entire colony has heard, the walls are thin and teenagers are naturally nosy. They know how long he's searched, they've seen his sleepless nights and long days of waiting by the radio on days he finally thinks he will get there, finally hear from other people that his family lives.
"Damian! Hey I know you just had your speech, but the Flatline colony is on the radio, they want to speak with you immediately." It's Connor, blonde hair overgrown, down to his chin, and he looks at him so hopefully, and Damian lets the hope flair in his chest once again. The Flatline colony is the only one still getting information from the states, the long process of which involves them having their own four far apart stations, they're located a thousand miles west of them, and they've only gotten to Missouri with them.
Damian immediately rushes into the radio room, sitting on his worn in chair and bringing the radio mic closer to him. "Titans on air, go for Flatline" He repeats the message, it almost doesn't feel like words anymore with how many times he has said it. "Copy Titans, Damian! Damian! Oh my stars and stripes Damian."
"We talked yesterday Flatline, what colony am I reporting today?" He tugs his newest book down from his shelf. "Damian. The colony is called the Wayne Colony." Damian freezes, hand still pressing down on the button. "Are you joking with me Flatline?" His voice wavers unsteadily.
"Absolutely not" He hears a gasp, his entire colony has crowded into the room, Kory leaning over the table to look at the radio like it will show her her boyfriend. "Flatline, all your information now."
"Alright. I did some digging. They're way farther out than Missouri, San Francisco Damian. They took refuge in the Titans Tower." They called it the Titans tower because Roy lived there, they had called their friend group the Titans for years, he owned the entire building, Dick was always flying out there to be with his friends.
"How many people?" Damian asks, he still knows the address of the Titans tower, which he writes down where he always does.
"Nineteen. Reported three kids under the age of ten, Lian, Helena and Mari." Kory gave a choked sob, struggling to get closer. "The rest, Bruce, Dick, Jason, Duke, Stephanie, Cassandra, Cullen, Harper, Jean-Paul" His fingers were going to go numb. "Carrie, Terry, Athanasia, Kate, Bette, Roy and Selina." Flatline listed. For a moment he was so stunned that his family was alive that he almost forgot he was missing two people.
"Oh my god. They're alive." He choked out. "Yes they are." Kory murmured. "No Tim? No Barbara?"
"This is all I got Damian. I'm so sorry." Damian didn't know how to feel, his family was alive, he should be elated, excited, jumping up and down, he could feel the excitement radiating throughout him, but the despair swirled with him, Tim and Barbara still unfounded.
"Thank you Flatline. Thank you." He says sincerely, he leans his forehead on the mic, takes a deep breath. He's hot all over and clammy from all the people crowding him. "What are you going to do now Damian?" Flatline asks him. "I'm going to San Francisco."
His colony doesn't like the idea of Damian going to San Francisco. At all.
"Damian. That's across the country. 40 days of walking if you don't stop. It will take months for you to even get there!" Billy pointed out. "I have waited seven years to see my family again, a few months is nothing. Not when I know now."
"No Damain!" Donna pipes in. "We want to see Dick again too, but we barely go 50 miles from the colony, let alone across the country!" Donna shouts at him, Damian shoves more clothes into his bag. "They're my family Donna. Don't you understand that at all?" He says weakly. "I suppose neither of you don't, because your families are out there, and you are still here." Damian mumbles.
"Don't throw that at them!" Wallace pipes in. "I miss my family too! You found them in Central City, just as you found the prince's and Billy's family! We miss them. We all want to see our families again! But we aren't going to risk our lives going out into those monster infected streets to do so!"
"Your'e all cowards," Damian bites back, voice laced with venom. "You speak largely about how much you miss them but won't face the real world to see them again. All of you are content to hide underground instead of facing the world above! It is inevitable. The world shall never go back to normal! And you want to hide underground without even you're families to keep the days from seeming useless? This is the new normal, monsters on the streets, if you want something you must face them, and I want my family. So I will face down every monster across this goddamn country to see my family again!" He yells, his anger is so large, it's larger than him, he can feel all it around him like its a tangible thing, like a loud, feels it roaring in his ear and the taste of it on his tongue.
"I will not hide away any longer. I will travel as long as it takes to see my family again." The room goes quiet, kids arms folded over their chests, everyone staring at him like he's insane or with pity. The looks don't affect him after the years
"Then you will need this" It's Kory, handing him a bag, he already knows it's food. "You will need a sleeping bag at the very least, perhaps a parka, wear your boots for the mission, dress warmly, remember not to take too many things, the world still has things for you to find."He nods with her words.
"Kory you can't be serious" Victor says desperately. "I am. There is no stopping a Wayne, we might as well prepare him, say our goodbyes. He will sneak out in the night if we try and deny him, and we all know it." Kory hands him a small sleeping bag, and he attaches it to his backpack, locking in the straps to the food bag, tightening everything up. He has enough clothes. He needs a parka, he has his boots on. It is early spring at this point in time, he knows it will be hot and it will rain. He packs a crossbow to his backpack as well, a gun for each thigh, and even two swords to his hips.
There is no stopping a Wayne.