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Heedless of the warning, Damian charged ahead, smashing against his foes heedlessly, ignoring Grayson's calls. He was fully capable of apprehending Rogue, the gang leader, himself. Grayson had no understanding whatsoever. He had been a mere circus orphan when he'd started, Damian was heir to the demon, trained into the perfect warrior by the Shadows. The pathetic restrictions of the previous Robins must not apply to him. They would do nothing but slow him down.
Robin allowed a small smile to come over his lips. None of these fools stood a chance against him; not with their pathetic guns and clumsy blows. Soon Rogue would be apprehended, and Grayson would realize his foolishness in attempting to hold Damian back. The man had much to learn about being Batman. Undoubtedly Father would have let him utilize his full potential.
The thugs were thinning out now, as Robin rushed onwards. He knew Rogue was close. He could see the trenchcoated villain ahead now, not even looking his way. Heart quickening ever so slightly in anticipation, Robin leaped forward. And something smashed against his skull. Thrown immediately against the ground hard, he felt himself skip across the ground, the momentum too much to check.
He felt himself slam against a girder, forcing the breath from his body. Before he could pick himself up a heavy boot slammed against his chin, sending his head backwards once more into the metal buttress. He didn't think he'd sustained heavy damage, but standing also suddenly seemed a bit more daunting. Not to mention he'd obviously walked into a trap. Humiliating.
As the boot slammed into him again, giving no time to recover, Robin began to heavily suspect that this could be far worse than humiliating. He had failed. The enemy had gotten the drop on him. He hadn't been good enough; Damian had been raised by the League of Shadows. He knew what this kind of failure meant. He was going to die. And he did not deserve to be saved. He should have listened to Grayson.
Damian closed his eyes. He would accept his end like a man. He had failed his mission in life, yet he would not die whimpering like a coward. He had seen the knife Rogue had pulled from his belt, preparing to finish the helpless vigilante. Damian released his breath as the knife came down. And missed the stabbing pain.
His eyes opened as he felt the familiar rush of air, heard the familiar sliding of a cape. Grayson had taken the knife meant for him.
Robin tried to make his way to his knees, tried to help, but the world was spinning, and everything seemed out of control. Rogue had known just where to hit him, the precise nerve clusters, to knock him out of function. Grayson fought this one alone. He should not be in such danger at all. Not for Damian. Not for Damian who was supposed to die.
Grayson was winning, he thought. But not by much. Though normally Damian was sure the older man could have easily defeated Rouge, he must have sustained injuries attempting to rush through the henchmen to come to Robin's rescue. And there was the knife wound. It must not be a normal knife. A normal knife would not have made it's way so easily through the kevlar. Finally Batman dropped Rogue with a final punch, then staggered to Robin's side. The gasping acrobat dropped beside the wounded assassin, attempting to ascertain the younger's state of being.
It was apparent that the man would not be able to safely ensure the trip to the Batmobile. It was fortunate the vehicle was now equipped with flight and an autopilot. Damian signalled the car. It should be here shortly, and by the time they had returned to the Batcave he should be functional once more. But his failure would not go unpunished.
The Batmobile entered the cave. Grayson's bleeding had stopped, and the man now seemed to be capable of coherent function. Good. The Batmobile came to a halt. Grayson exited, and Damian threw the door open, and rushed around the front to throw himself at Grayson's feet. He fell to his knees, arms crossed over his head, palms upwards. If Grayson jerked Damian's arms the bones could shatter beyond repair, or leave fractures which would bring agony for practically any amount of time, depending on the application. He was prepared.
"D-dami, what are you doing?"
Damian wanted to hunch his shoulders, to at least attempt in some flimsy way to defend himself, but he must keep this position for maximum punishment.
"Hurt me, break me. Now!"
"This is necessary, I have to learn not to disobey you! Hurt me!"
"Damian, no! Everyone makes mistakes. I'm not going to hurt you! I love you!" The man sounded confused!
But Damian could not bear to hear how he was loved.
"No! Punish me, break me, hurt me Grayson! Do what you wish; I cannot take your forgiveness!"
And then he was crying. It was weak of him, pathetic. He should be dead now, and Grayson should not be hurt. He had no right to tears.
And Grayson was not supposed to be kneeling beside him. Gentle fingers were not supposed to be brushing his face, wiping away his tears. "Dami? Little D, listen to me. It's going to be okay. I love you. You don't have to be ashamed. I'm always going to be here for you. I'm always going to care for you."
Damian's arms shook, still held above his head, as Grayson's arms slipped around his narrow body, pulling the smaller boy in close.
"No…" Grayson wasn't allowed to forgive him. Wasn't allowed to love him. He didn't know how to deal with that. All he knew how to deal with was pain. Why wouldn't Grayson hurt him? He deserved to be hurt!
"Everyone makes mistakes Dami, it doesn't make you a bad person. You're beautiful to me. You'll always be my baby brother."
And Damian Wayne broke down and sobbed.
He didn't deserve this love, he never would. His hands were stained with blood; unlike Grayson he could never be good. He knew his brokenness, he could never be whole, but Grayson held him blameless, and would ever love him in full.