I have always fancied Batman and Talia Al Ghul’s imperfect relationship. She stands for what her father believes and he for what he believes. But what if ideologies no longer clash? What if Talia decides to follow her beloved instead?
DC has all character rights.
When Ra’s al Ghul is happy, Ra’s al Ghul is happy.
When Ra’s al Ghul is unhappy, the entire League of Assassins is unhappy.
“I want. Her found,” he ground out through gritted teeth. The League of Assassins quaked in their boots and, as one, looked to the poor sod who had to inform Ra’s that they did indeed know where his daughter was.
“…Ummm… sir…” the man trembled.
“My patience is in a state of non-existence,” Ra’s informed the poor assassin. “Now.”
The assassin decided to let the newsreel on the announcement of the engagement of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul speak for itself. The assassin was also very, very lucky that Ra’s al Ghul was not in the habit of shooting the messenger.
When Talia al Ghul is happy, Ra’s al Ghul is happy.
When Talia al Ghul is unhappy, the entire League of Assassins is unhappy.
When unhappy ninjas crash the wedding of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul, Gotham elite are unimpressed at their lack of gimmick other than ninja (and a little bit unhappy).
When Talia al Ghul is unhappy that unhappy ninjas are crashing her wedding, unhappy ninjas get the crap beat out of them.
When an unhappy Talia al Ghul beats up ninjas at her wedding, an unimpressed Gotham elite think that Bruce Wayne orchestrated the whole thing.
Then Talia’s ninja father shows up and starts shouting, and Talia starts shouting back at him, and then Ra’s al Ghul sends the ninjas who can still walk away and orders the orchestra to start over. And the wedding begins again, this time with Talia being escorted down the aisle by her father, and no one is viciously murdered.
When Talia al Ghul is Talia Wayne, Gotham elite wonders how the hell Bruce Wayne managed to land a hot ninja wife and not get brutally killed by her evil ninja father.
When Batman is unhappy, the criminal element is unhappy.
When Batman is happy, the criminal element is fucking terrified.
When Bruce Wayne is unhappy, Bruce Wayne is unhappy.
When Talia Wayne is unhappy, everyone at Wayne Manor is unhappy. Of course to describe her as unhappy at the moment would be a gross oversimplification; there are a lot of emotions involved, and even she’s not sure the entire range of the gamut that is run.
“What were you thinking?” she demanded of Bruce, arms folded and and eyebrow raised, her stormy eyes being the only thing betraying her inner rage.
“That a little boy needed comfort and I sympathized,” Bruce answered. “Also, that we have a big empty house. It’s not like we don’t have the resources to raise a child.”
“Beloved, a child needs more than food and a bed!” Talia insisted. “He needs love, a mother’s touch-”
Bruce put a comforting arm around her waist. “And you’ll do just fine.”
“You can’t just throw out promises to circus boys before consulting me about it,” she grumbled. “I can’t be a mother. I’m not mother material.”
“Do I seem like an ideal father-figure?” Bruce countered.
“And what if my father decides to come after us after all?” Talia continued. “The boy will just get caught in the crossfire.”
“I thought he was rather clear when we got married,” Bruce said grimly.
Talia pulled away to glare at him. “Beloved, my father is hundreds of years old. He will eventually decide that ‘dead to him’ does not mean the same thing to him as it does other people.”
Bruce sighed, rolled his eyes, and pulled her close again to kiss her. “Stop worrying. Stop thinking about what ifs and not good enoughs. Just go with it. Because I meant it when I said our house was big and empty.”
“Beloved,” Talia started icily. “You’ve been thinking about this a lot longer than you’re letting on, haven’t you?”
Bruce smiled sheepishly. “Yes?”
Talia brought an angry finger up to his face. “Insufferable. Irritating.”
Bruce sighed. “If you really don’t think you can do it…”
“I hate you.”
“No you don’t.”
When Batman married Talia al Ghul, those in the know were not impressed.
When Batman defended his new wife’s hard work to turn over a new leaf, they were slightly less not impressed.
When Batman brought a child into the mix, they were very much not impressed all over again.
When a billboard appeared in Gotham reading, “DEAR FATHER PLEASE STAY AWAY FROM CATS YOU ARE NOT HELPING,” they decided Gotham and its inhabitants were a lost cause.
Dick Grayson was terrified of the people he lived with now.
Alfred was all right. Alfred made cookies and tucked him in at night and gave him cups of warm milk and sat up with him when he couldn’t sleep because of the nightmares. But Mr. Wayne who wanted him to call him Bruce was always busy with work and always seemed so distant, and Mrs. Wayne who wanted him to call her Talia was a ninja with an evil ninja father and if Dick so much as looked at her wrong she would probably have him killed by the legion of ninja underlings she undoubtedly had hidden away somewhere.
“Richard,” she said to him, “Would you like me to read you a bedtime story?”
Dick did not notice how awkward she sounded, too busy nodding yes enthusiastically. And he didn’t dare complain about the story she picked (a copy of Arabian Nights she found in the library).
“Beloved, this is not working,” Talia said one early morning as she lay in bed waiting for Bruce to join her.
“You’re awake?” Bruce asked, surprised.
“Richard flinches at the sight of me.”
“Try calling him Dick,” Bruce suggested.
Talia sighed. “Somehow, I do not think that will solve the problem,” she answered sarcastically. “He is terrified of me. I am not what this boy needs.”
Bruce grinned. “Have you tried not being terrifying?”
Talia threw a pillow at him. “Bruce!”
Then Dick found out that Bruce was Batman, and that explained a lot. And after realizing that if they were anywhere the ninjas would be in the Batcave, he finally came to the conclusion that Talia did not command an army of ninjas, and was not going to kill him in his sleep. Which was very nice.
When she read Arabian Nights to him that evening, he abruptly slipped up under her arm and leaned against her, startling her. She blinked at him before continuing on with the story at hand.
When she finished the story, Dick looked up at her. “Will you teach me to be a ninja?”
Talia looked down at his earnest face, and thought that there could only be bad motivations to this question. “Of course… Dick.”
When Bruce is Batman, Talia is understanding.
When Dick is Robin, Talia is furious.
Dick is far too young to be out fighting criminals, even if he had been brought up to do so, which he hadn’t. When Talia was his age she had been training all her life, and even then she still went out into the field very rarely. Dick is too young to be a superhero, and that is that.
(But, because there is no stopping him, at least she can make sure he isn’t flashing his bare legs at every pedophile in Gotham. Honestly, and he wondered why she didn’t let him dress himself.)
When a large black Great Dane leaps out of the Batmobile, Talia is not amused. Dick barely has the chance to open his mouth before she says, very sternly, “No.”
“His name’s Ace-”
“Remember how I said no to that street urchin last week?”
“And those two kittens the week before?”
“And, having said no to both kittens and an actual human being, you think I would say yes to a dog?” she asked, voice dripping the word dog as if it were an organism growing unwanted in the fridge. Ace, not helping his case, started running around with his nose to the ground and letting out little woofs, his tail narrowly missing various fragile and expensive objects.
Ace disappeared around a corner as Dick tried to plead his case. “Talia, Ace is a good dog! He bit some mobsters for me!”
Talia folded her arms and gave her best disapproving look, which was pretty damn good. “And what makes you think he won’t decide to bite one of us?”
Then, unexpectedly, a child’s laughter started up. “Gerroff, you dumb dog!”
A sneaking suspicion as to what had made the noise, Talia strode towards the sound, Dick trailing behind her. She found the source failing to hide in a crevice.
“Because Ace is currently licking Jason and being crawled over by the kittens?” Dick answered hesitantly, metaphorical hand caught in the metaphorical cookie jar, only in this case the cookies were kittens and Jason Todd.
Talia could feel herself starting to lose it. “Does Bruce know about you hiding strays in the Batcave?”
“Probably,” Dick answered. “He is Batman.”
Ace continued to cover Jason in slobber. The kittens mewled adorably.
Bruce was more than willing to welcome Jason, Ace, and the kittens into their home. Talia, not so much.
“The kittens I can deal with,” she told Bruce. “They’re fluffy and adorable and the only reason I said no was because if I give an inch he’ll take a mile. But the dog drools and I can’t be a mother to Jason, I’ve already done such a poor job with Dick.”
“No you haven’t,” Bruce insisted. “You’ve done a wonderful job. A bit unconventional, but I don’t think you give yourself enough credit.”
“Unconventional?” Talia questioned, unimpressed by Bruce’s pep talk.
Bruce smirked slightly. “Well, not many mothers can lay claim to beating up Two-Face and other assorted villains.”
“Bruce!” Talia raised her voice. “I can’t take care of three kids, two cats, and a dog!”
Bruce stopped. “…Three?” he asked, quietly. “You’re…?”
Talia hugged her middle. “Yes Beloved. I am.”
Bruce suddenly and unexpectedly swung Talia into a hug. “That’s wonderful! We can set up a nursery in the west wing near our bedroom! If it’s a boy we can name him Thomas, or if it’s a girl we can name her Martha! And it will be the happiest baby in the world!”
“Bruce, what to name our child is not the problem at hand!”
Bruce leaned towards her and whispered in her ear, “Our house is very, very big.”
Jason stayed. So did Ace. The black kitten was named Sabadas, and the black and white kitten Jumbo, and they stayed as well.
Horror stories of the day the two young wards of Bruce Wayne were kidnapped and then rescued by a pregnant Talia Wayne and their dog, who were in turn rescued by Batman, are told amongst the criminal underworld as Gotham’s very own version of Grimm’s Fairytales.
And then Damian Thomas Wayne was born, and there was much rejoicing (Talia overruled Bruce on the name; “Thomas Wayne is a geography teacher, Damian Wayne is a superhero”).
Then one day Ace ran off. They looked for him for hours before they gave up on the bulk of the search and resigned themselves to hoping he would turn up while on patrol. Ace returned to Wayne Manor on his own, with a small boy riding on his back and a gangly black puppy in his mouth.
Talia couldn’t very well explain to a dog why he was not allowed to bring home strays, and so Tim and Titus stayed.
One morning Talia steps outside to find a box on the front stoop, and inside the box are three kittens. I hear you take in strays, the note on the box says. Even I know when I simply cannot take any more in, so hopefully they will be able to find a good home with you.
Talia is about ready to storm off and tell Selina Kyle exactly what she can do with her kittens when Ace comes out, helps the kittens out of the box, picks up one of them, and herds the other two inside. Talia later finds them playing with Titus in Ace’s large bed.
The kittens are named Huffy, Jamie, and Oboe. Talia is most definitely not jealous of Ace’s mothering skills.
Talia only expected Dick’s outing to the Justice League headquarters to backfire horribly. She just had no idea how much. “What happened?” she screeched upon Dick’s exiting of the batmobile. Dick was apparently the wrong person to ask, because as soon as the words were out of her mouth he started babbling excitedly and only semi-coherently. She turned to Bruce, raising one questioning, disapproving eyebrow.
Bruce explained about Cadmus and Superboy and the team. While Talia does approve of Dick spending more time with kids his own age, she would prefer if it were in a more normal situation. Still, it seems like a better idea than some of Bruce’s, and she mentally adds performing background checks on Dick’s new teammates and updating the batcomputer’s records on them and their known associates to her task list.
‘KF, shut up.’
‘Ninja. Assassins,’ Wally enunciated over the psychic link. ‘Ninja assassins of death. Ninja assassins that kill people, probably especially people that are a covert ops team they just caught sneaking around their secret ninja assassin base.’
Artemis sent a very vivid image of a lolcat across their psychic link with the eloquent caption, CALM YO TITS.
Robin sighed. ‘Not the way I would’ve put it, but relax. I’ve got this covered.’
‘Covered? You’re tied up even more than the rest of us! Considering the company, that’s not normal!’
Which was a little bit true. When keeping company with a Kryptonian, a Martian, an Atlantean, and a speedster, it was generally not a normal human being who ended up with the most rope, shackles, and other forms of restraints on him.
The League of Assassins was taking no chances with a protege of the Bat.
‘I will admit to wanting to know the source of your confidence,’ Kaldur mentioned.
‘I let Talia know where we were going. She’ll be here to bail us out any minute now.’
‘Wait, Talia?’ Artemis asked. ‘As in, Talia al Ghul? The daughter of the guy who is about to interrogate slash torture then brutally murder us?’
‘Dude, I thought Ra’s disowned her, hates her guts now or something,’ Wally pointed out.
‘Nah, he just likes to say that. He got me a private island for my birthday last year. Of course it was crawling with League assassins and he was just trying to get me to join up with him, but it’s the thought that counts.’
Superboy’s confusion was easily felt. ‘But Ra’s al Ghul is a villain. Why would he get you a birthday present? How do you know his daughter?’
Fortunately, Robin was spared from answering that by Talia herself, who stormed into the main hall of the secret base wherein Ra’s was glaring at Young Justice and ranting (and whom Young Justice was ignoring). “Father!” Talia shouted at him, holding a small, black-haired child. “What is the meaning of this?”
Ra’s turned his glare on her. “I may ignore many things which would otherwise demand my attention, but only to a point. When Batman’s personal team breaks into one of my bases, I can no longer turn a blind eye to his actions.”
“Batman was completely in the wrong, I agree,” Talia corrected Ra’s assumption. “I was referring to this child here!” she raised her voice again, gesturing to the girl in her arms. “This is a completely unsuitable environment for raising a little girl! I found her destroying training dummies like an automaton! She doesn’t even know how to talk!”
Ra’s frowned, walking towards Talia for a closer look. “Ah, yes. Young Cassandra. David Cain has been trying to train the perfect assassin, but they have all been failures. He is trying something new, raising someone from infanthood in the language of battle, and none other.”
“It’s child abuse!” Talia responded angrily. “And I’ll be taking her back to Gotham with me, along with Young Justice. Do not worry, I will be having words with my husband about sending them after you. It will not happen on purpose again.”
Ra’s groaned. “Fine. But make sure I don’t see them again. Unbind them.”
Several assassins leapt forward to do their leader’s bidding and free Young Justice. Talia started striding back towards the doors, then paused and said over her shoulder, “And I expect you to not be late for Christmas dinner this year, and to not bring company. Both myself and Alfred would not like a repeat of last year’s debacle. And no spy cameras in the presents again.”
Successfully freed, Young Justice started jogging after the fast-walking Talia. “Miss Martian, call your bioship to the main hanger.”
“Oh!” M’gann started, not expecting to be addressed. “Yes, of course.”
‘Did Talia al Ghul just waltz in here, chew out the head of the League of Assassins for child abuse, get him to free us, kidnap an assassin in training, and remind him about Christmas dinner?’ Artemis’s psychic tone was incredulous.
‘It appears so,’ Kaldur answered.
‘What I really want to know is what happened last Christmas,’ Wally added. ‘Rob, you told me it was uneventful.’
‘Compared to the year before it was.’
‘Your life man. I want it.’
‘No you don’t.’
“Robin,” Talia spoke up in a tone that promised a scolding. “Did I or did I not tell you to walk the dogs before you went out on your next mission?”
Robin froze, wincing. “Maybe?”
“The answer is yes. The answer to my next question, did you actually walk the dogs, is no. And your grade on your latest history paper is atrocious.”
“It’s an 89%!”
“Which is not an A. When we get home I expect you take the dogs to the park for some exercise and then spend the rest of the evening studying.”
‘…Is she your mom?’ Artemis finally asked.
‘KF, shut up.’
Talia knows better than to think Bruce will be mad about Cassandra. This is the man who will happily open his home to starving orphans, kittens, and two dogs. Perish the thought of what the man would do without her. Of course without her perhaps he wouldn’t be so inclined to play house, but that is all what if.
Bruce is thrilled about Cassandra. He is equally thrilled that she rescued Young Justice, considerably less thrilled that they got caught in the first place, and even more considerably less thrilled that she reminded Ra’s about Christmas dinner.
Talia reminds him that she wouldn’t have had the excuse to remind Ra’s about Christmas dinner if Bruce hadn’t sent Young Justice after him. She then reams into him for that for a good twenty minutes and finally locks him out of the Batcave for the night. His mission can wait until after he’s had some time to think about what he’s done.
Exactly a week after she brought Cassandra home, Bruce asks, “Do you think Cass needs a sister?”
And Talia had been all ready to forgive him for the League of Assassins escapade (which was probably why he brought it up now), largely because Cassandra was such a sweet girl, but now her ‘Bruce has ulterior motives’ senses are tingling and she’s reminded of why exactly the man drives her insane. “What,” she responds flatly.
“Well I was just thinking we have Dick and Jason and Tim and Damian,” Bruce answered, “And now Cass. Four boys and one girl. Hardly even. Cass needs someone she can talk to about girly things, once she learns how to talk.”
Suddenly, Talia understood. “You already have someone in mind. In fact, you’ve been thinking about approaching me about this for a while, and Cassandra was the perfect excuse.”
Bruce gave her a hopeful smile. “Maybe?”
Talia sighed, closing her eyes and pinching the bridge of her nose. “…Fine. But six kids, five cats, and two dogs is more than enough. No more.”
Talia opened an eye to glare at Bruce. “What.”
Bruce’s look is sheepish. Talia realizes that Bruce almost never looks sheepish honestly, and wishes for a camera. She finds it a little bit adorable. “One of the boys brought home a new kitten and named it Sunnyside.”
It is not long at all before Talia realizes how much they needed someone like Stephanie at Wayne Manor. Sunnyside (who is black) takes to her immediately, and Ace and Titus decide that they trust Stephanie enough to leave their new charge alone with her. This in itself says a thousand words, as Ace and Titus made their overprotectiveness of any kittens in their care apparent very early on.
“Talia!” Jason called from the front door. “There’s a box out here addressed to ‘Wayne Home For Troubled Youth and Kittens’.”
Talia sighed the sigh of the long-sufferer. “That would be from your Aunt Selina then. Bring it in and let them out.” She walked into the front hall, dictionary in hand. “Ace! Titus!”
The two big Great Danes came skidding out of the hall to the kitchen, nails clacking and feet sliding on the floor. Jason set the box down and opened it, then reached in and pulled out a kitten. “Calico, girl.”
Talia flipped to a random page in the dictionary and slammed her finger down on an entry with closed eyes. Upon opening, she read out, “Whiskers. Fitting.”
Jason held Whiskers out to Titus, who took her and placed her in front of Ace. Ace gave the fluffy kitten a slobbery lick, which Whiskers protested loudly.
“Next one, tortoiseshell, boy.”
“Last one, identical to the second.”
Talia only flipped a few pages in the dictionary this time. “Sneaker. Let’s go with Sneakers.”
Jason nodded. “Sounds good.” He stood up, holding the empty box in one hand and Sneakers in the other. He followed Ace and Titus, carrying Whiskers and Sputnik respectively, through the door that led to the sitting room.
Talia moved to shut the front door, but before she could Jumbo strolled in with a cat she’d never seen before. “Found yourself a lady friend, huh?” She sighed, looking down at the two of them. “Fine. She can stay. We’ll call you Zoey.”
When Bruce returned to the Batcave with two more boys and started spouting excuses about setting a good example for Clark, Talia came to the conclusion that it was his secret ambition to fill every bedroom in Wayne Manor, a feat not accomplished in over a hundred years.
Which was entirely why, instead of protesting, she pulled the names Terrence and Matthew out of the book she was reading before Bruce could be an ass and name one of them Clark. It certainly had absolutely nothing to do with an overflow of maternal feelings brought on by raising six kids, two dogs, and a lot of cats.
Give a child an inch, and they’ll take a mile. That was Talia’s reasoning when she told Dick he could not keep those kittens, and she stands by her reasoning. Firmly.
“This one is named Schwartz,” Damian tells her, holding up the kitten. “And this one is Striker.”
Talia bends over to smile at the kittens. “And they’re very lovely darling, but we can’t just keep every stray kitten that we come across.”
Damian frowns. “We have to wait for Auntie Selina to give them to us?”
“No, that’s not it. We just can’t.”
Her four year old son looks up at her. Talia bends, then breaks.
“Fine. Schwartz and Striker can stay.”
It turns out that Striker is a biter, and that is how he shows his affection. Upon the discovery of this fact, Damian announces that Striker is his favorite kitty. Wally West spends one sleepless sleepover with Striker padding around his head, terrified that he’ll wake up without a nose, and in the morning tells Dick that he’s not spending the night again until his doorknob is fixed.
Tim, flanked by Cass and Steph, is holding out what has become a very battered copy of Arabian Nights. “Will you read us a bedtime story?”
Talia’s answer (yes) is drowned out by shouts of “I am Robin, the Boy Wonder!” and “JASON!”
Which in turn reminds Talia that she hasn’t seen Terry, Matt, or Damian in a while, which can only mean bad things. “In a little bit,” she amends. “I have to go make sure there’s no catastrophes in the making.”
She finds them in the Batcave, Matt refereeing a fight between Damian and Terry over who gets to join Jason in the batcowl. Talia has a horrible premonition of what will happen once they’re actually old enough to wear it, and decides that she doesn’t want to think about that again for at least ten years.
“I met a new friend today Mother.”
“That’s wonderful Damian. What’s their name?”
Talia hummed in acknowledgment.
“Mother, Colin has no parents.”
Talia closed her eyes, hoping for patience. It starts with kittens. It always starts with kittens.