My Misspent Youth
Disclaimer: Don't own these characters. Recently got into Titans after the departure of my beloved X-Men: Evolution. R/R if you like.
(Author's Note: I mixed and matched Robin's past since the show doesn't give anything much to go on. There's a little bit of Dick Grayson and a little bit of Tim Drake.)
The world looks so small from up here. I can remember a time when the world was big, when endless possibilities stretched out before me. The sky was the limit then and nothing was above my grasp. How things have changed since I was little. How many times have I bumped my head on the ceiling, learned my limitations, and cursed them? I am only one man, not even a man really. I'm still a boy in a silly cape and costume.
One boy, one man. I used to think nothing could ever change the world. It was probably when I was living on the streets, before I was let in on the greatest secret I could ever be allowed to keep. Nothing would change back then. I was an orphan with no place to go and very little to support me. I survived but I lost the hope that anything would ever change. Then I met him. Sometimes one man is all it takes.
I stare at the city from the top of the tower. It's a beautiful day, sunshine and a nice breeze and everything. Somewhere there's the sound of children laughing. It rises above the traffic noise and lingers in my ears. I wish I was young again. It's surprising considering my childhood. People automatically assume that when I say I want to be young again I want to go back to my childhood. I don't. I wish to be young again so I could reshape my childhood into what it should've been. In my fictitious childhood I would not be an orphan. I'd have a father who'd play catch with me in the park on weekends like this. I'd have a mother who'd love me and tuck me into bed at night. At the very least, I would know her name or who she was. At the very least I would have a home.
I can't go back though. You're only young once. Too bad. I would've liked a better childhood than scraping by on the streets. I would've liked to have had a normal life instead of running around at night chasing lunatics in purple leisure suits or skintight, black vinyl. Some happy memories those were. Yep, me and Barb and the old man. One big, happy family.
Do I sound bitter about all this? Yes. Am I bitter? Maybe a little bit. Actually, we were like a family at first. It was kinda nice having people look out for me and take care of me. I didn't have to keep relying completely on myself so much. After awhile, though, everything started to dissolve and change. Things weren't so perfect anymore and it stopped being all one big game.
Sidekick. Tag-along. Trainee. The words have long, razor-sharp teeth. They bite into me and rip huge hunks out of my self-worth. I was all those things. Nothing was good enough for Bruce. It used to drive me insane. I did everything perfect but still there were little things I'd end up leaving out. It had to be perfect or nothing with him. There was never anything in between. No mistakes. Mistakes got you killed or worse yet they got someone else killed. He knew the price of mistakes. He made sure everyone else did too by drilling it into our skulls. I guess in more ways than sometimes I'll admit he was my father.
Does that make her my mother then? No, it didn't quite feel that way. It was more like my big sister. Yeah, that's about it. Big sis, Batgirl, always lookin' out for her little brother, Robin. But somehow she wasn't Batgirl anymore. She turned into Barbara somehow. Barbara with fiery, red hair and equally smoldering, green eyes. Barbara who was so beautiful flipping through the air with the unnatural grace and poise of the best professional gymnast ever. Barbara with that smile that would light up a room. Barbara that stopped being my big sister and turned into someone I wanted, someone I loved.
And the old man, you ask? He was competition. No, it wasn't even a fair fight. I was totally outclassed by him. He had it all. He had the money, the good looks, the fame both behind the mask and without it. Most importantly, he had her heart. He had the one thing I would've given everything for. I had nothing. I was too young, too little, and most of all I was too much of a kid. Once again I just couldn't cut it. Once again I was left in his shadow and stuck being second best to him. That's when I realized I was still an individual and not just some Batman clone. That's when I stopped being a sidekick and left that cave altogether.
"Robin?" The voice is lyrical even when it's low and timid. I turn to see Starfire standing behind me. I automatically brush the past aside. I have a new family now. They depend on me just like the city depends on us. I won't fall short again. I guess in a way I really am just like Bruce.
"Yeah," I reply, "What's up, Star?" She hesitates as if she's afraid to speak, afraid of me. Sometimes there's a good reason for that. I've been a jerk sometimes. It's just so easy to push everyone away, to lock yourself up so you don't get hurt.
"We were going to journey to the park," she explains, "Would you care to accompany us?" I soften up a little bit. I realize that I had unconsciously started clenching my fists and start to relax them. It's hard to say no to Starfire. I don't think I could if I tried. I thought Barbara's eyes were the greenest I'd ever seen till I met Star. Her eyes are soft and gentle too, perfectly matching their owner. She's younger than us in personality if not age. I want to protect her and take care of her. I don't want the most beautiful thing in my life right now to be taken away like so many other things have.
"Yeah, sure," I reply with a little smile, "I'll be down in a sec." I turn back to the city. This is why we fight. We fight so people can enjoy days like this in peace. We fight so kids don't have to grow up like I did in a cold, hard world full of loss and disillusionment. Geez, I really do sound like Bruce.
"What are you thinking?" asks Starfire. I feel her hand close around mine and squeeze a little bit. She's always worried about me, a lot more than the others are. I kinda like that.
"Nothing important," I reply as I turn to walk down with her, our hands still in each other's, "at least not anymore." Maybe I didn't have a perfect childhood. Maybe a lot of things could've been better. That doesn't really bother me right now. That's life, making the best of what you have. I turn to look at Star and catch her staring at me. She blushes a little and reflexively looks away. She is the best, the best girl I could've asked for. When I look into her eyes and see inside her I realize that maybe being a teen, being stuck between childhood and adulthood, isn't so bad after all.