It was a quiet Sunday night in Gotham city- unusually enough. The lull was welcomed by some heroes, while others looked at it suspiciously.
Damian Wayne, now seventeen years old and on his seventh year of being Robin, was one of the latter. His best friend, Colin Wilkes, known on the streets of Gotham by the name Abuse, was one of the former.
Despite this difference of opinion, the two of them were hanging out in a diner- one close enough to the major trouble spots of the city that they could easily jump into action if needed.
“So, what do you think of our newbie?” Colin asked his friend, voice pitched low. He’d learned something of subterfuge in their years of friendship.
Their newbie, Nell Little, was the new Batgirl- apprentice to the relatively new Nightwing, Stephanie Brown.
“She has been adequate so far. Of course, she was in training for quite some time.” Damian answered. “She’s only new to the Field, not the game.”
Colin nodded. “Still can’t believe she stuck it out that long.”
“Three years is hardly ‘that long’. I trained my entire life for my position.” Damian protested.
Colin smiled at him. “But you didn’t have to watch your mentors hit the street without you. I’ve heard that’s harder.”
Damian shrugged. “I wouldn’t know.” Idly, he wondered when Colin was going to get around to saying what he meant to say- they didn’t usually exchange the vigilante equivalent of small talk.
Still, he didn’t have any pressing matters at hand- he could humour the red head for as long as was needed.
Colin thanked the waitress as she brought them their food- as mediocre as it was. Damian merely nodded his head in acknowledgement- he considered the tip he’d be leaving thanks enough.
Silence fell upon the two friends- leaving only the ambience of the diner to fill it. The sound of food cooking in the kitchens, the clink of cutlery and dishware meeting- and Colin’s relentless fidgeting. Whatever he was trying to say must be quite important to him- he’d spent months learning subtlety from Damian’s family.
Damian had too- nothing was quite as discomfiting as the combined team of Drake and Cain, deducing every detail of the day at every possible moment. They’d had some sort of bizarre point system- he suspected that was Brown’s contribution. Thankfully, the others had been disqualified on account of being too terrifying- being Batmen, Oracle or Alfred. Otherwise Damian may have reconsidered his decision to stay in Gotham.
The memories sent a chill up his spine, and he barely resisted the urge to shudder. Colin had no idea how lucky he’d been, to go home somewhere they didn’t follow- Radcliffe wasn’t the sort to enjoy mind games, although years in proximity to Gotham meant she knew how to play.
He quickly diverted his train of thought- could it be problems with his guardian that Colin wanted to talk about?
His mind ran through the possibilities, even as he consumed his meal.
Eventually, Colin spoke.
“Damian.” He began, awkwardly. “Do you think it’s because of the venom?”
The non-sequitor threw Damian for a loop. He gave Colin what was hopefully an encouraging look. Certainly, the red-head seemed to take it as such.
He cleared his throat and began again. “I was thinking, that maybe I’m not really ace- it might just be the venom.”
Damian barely resisted the urge to roll his eyes, instead taking another sip of his drink as he thought over what to say- carefully keeping in mind all those mock ‘sensitivity’ courses that Batman Inc had come up with.
“I don’t mean to invalidate your conclusion.” He began, slowly. “And I certainly don’t presume to think I know better than you how you experience your own existence.” There, that was a disclaimer. Now he had to avoid proving it false. “But I don’t understand how the supposed cause of asexuality matters.”
Colin looked confused, but waved a hand, indicating that the other vigilante should go on.
Great. Now what was he supposed to say? “If the venom inhibited your ability to feel attraction- then that doesn’t change the fact, that for the majority of the time, you don’t feel attraction. Having a possible cause to point to does not change the fact you don’t look at people in a sexual way.” He continued. “And thus, for all intents and purposes, nothing has changed.” He took another sip of his drink, to delay his next question. “Unless you no longer feel comfortable identifying as ace?”
Colin shrugged, leaning back in the booth. “I don’t know. Just something Charlie said.”
Ah, Radcliffe. Perhaps he could suggest that the Birds undergo more Sensitivity training?
“What did she say?” He inquired.
Colin grimaced slightly, resuming his own meal. “I’m sure you can guess.”
Damian nodded in acknowledgement- it wasn’t too hard, given their previous conversation. “She’s still having trouble in accepting asexuality as a legitimate orientation?” He checked.
Colin sighed, but nodded.
Yes, the Birds of Prey were definitely getting the extra sensitivity training- with a new section on asexuality added. And possibly the extra long version too, with all the interviews, and case studies. Maybe with the ‘real life examples’ provided by actors.
“She has trouble believing in something so foreign to her.” Damian concluded. “For which I believe she is a moron, and you shall never convince me otherwise.”
Colin let out a gentle huff, his lips twisted slightly in amusement.
“You are my friend. I don’t care if you orientation is unusual, it doesn’t change that. Radcliffe will simply have to learn to accept this part of you.” And the three hour long video, complete with the recreations, would do it. Perhaps an ‘asexual bingo?’ He’d come across several when researching Colin’s orientation. Perhaps he could convince father to make a new video for the situation- and have the actress bear a resemblance to Radcliffe. Or would that be too direct an attack?
Colin, unaware of his friend’s inner thoughts, beamed. Damian, feeling slightly awkward in the face of such gratitude (for stating simple facts, no less), decided to order some dessert to break the moment. Maybe some cake?