Ok, hello once again. This song fic pretty much goes along with Chapters 9, 10, and 11 (not yet written) of Broken (if you haven't read it, check it out to actually understand what I'm talking about). I found the whole situation with the way Batman treats Robin interesting, so I figured I'd have some fun. This story takes place when Robin is about 10 or 11. Inspired by the song Numb, by Linkin Park, so please give it some thought.

"Get up."

He gasped for air, his chest on fire as he stared at the ground, crouched on his hands and knees.

"You heard me, Robin. You still have three hours of training left to complete."

He pushed up from the ground, and was amazed to find that his legs would still support him. With every day, every hour, every second, he was certain that he could take no more. All the same, somehow he always managed to stand back up, only to be knocked down again.

He dragged a hand across his mouth, wiping the blood from his lip and chancing a glance at his mentor. Nothing. Blank. What had he expected?

"You did it again."

Robin cringed, his mind searching franticly for the mistake. He couldn't make mistakes. Mistakes were not allowed.

"You've left yourself open. Completely unprotected."

He never saw more than a black blur, his fists came up too late, like always. A searing pain shot through his chest, driving the air from his body and leaving him defenseless, again.

"Block me!"

He stumbled, barely able to stop himself from falling. His heart thudded painfully in his chest, his vision blurred and distorted, a fire raging through his body. With all the strength he had left, Robin threw a punch at the masked face, knowing the outcome in advance.

"Fight, Robin!"

A "light" punch to his chin sent his head whipping backward, pain throbbing in his neck. Three more hours...how could he last through three more hours?

"You chose this life. This is what you wanted, this is what you asked me for. I won't let you fail."

Had he? Had he really chosen this life? Was this really what he wanted?

"You're open again! Protect yourself! Aren't you listening to anything I'm teaching you?"

The words drilled into his skull, falling into the rhythm of the pounding in his head. He knew he was failing. He knew he wasn't good enough. And there was nothing he could do about it.

All too soon, he found himself back on the ground again, breathing heavily, sweat dripping from his forehead, his hair flattened to his skull. Shame burned deep within him, bringing with it a pain that had nothing to do with cuts or bruises. He wanted something...wanted it so desperately that he could hardly breath...

"Dad! Look, I can do it now! I figured it out all by myself!"

His father gasped in surprise. "Look at you!", he cried, watching as Dick swung from the trapeze. It was low to the ground, a mat beneath it, just in case. "I don't know...you're growing up so fast, Squirt. Pretty soon I won't be able to pick you up anymore." He looked at him teasingly from the corner of his deep brown eyes.

Dick grinned, knowing what the look meant. He released the trapeze, doing a mid-air summersault and landing (almost) gracefully in front of his dad. He stood for a moment, hazel eyes locked with brown ones in a staring match that was all too familiar. As usual, his dad cracked a smile first, and Dick crowed in triumph. "I win!"

"Oh yeah?" The tall, dark-haired man leapt forward, catching his son in his arms and tickling him lightly. "Whatcha say now, tough guy? Huh? Huh?"

Dick laughed and yelled for help, but he loved every second of it. When they were both worn out, they collapsed next to each other on the brightly colored mat, breathing heavily. He turned his head to look at his dad, admiration shining in his young eyes.

"Dick?" His father reached over and ruffled his crazy black hair. This usually raised a protest, but not today. "I'm so proud of you."

Pride. What was that?

"This is unacceptable, Robin."

Unacceptable...that was the word he heard so often, the word that meant failure. He had to get up, had to keep trying, he couldn't stop. He could never stop. He would never stop.

A hand gripped the back of his uniform, and dragged him to his feet. There was no love in that touch, no kindness, no compassion. It just was.

"You will not quit. I will not allow you to quit."

Batman released him with a cold stare that said quite plainly that he would remain standing, at any cost. Robin felt his legs shaking, felt his body ache with pain and fatigue and shame, but somehow he managed to stay upright, standing as straight as he possibly could. It would never be enough, but he would still give all that he had.

"Put your hands up, Robin."

His cheeks burned with shame as he lifted his arms to shield his face. How could he forget that again?

"Your stance is off." A swift kick to his knees sent him crashing to the ground yet again. "Always keep one foot slightly behind the other. Otherwise, you'll be down in a matter of seconds. We've been through this before, Robin. Can't you remember anything?"

His fists clenched as a new emotion raged through him: anger. He was angry with himself, so angry that he thought he would burst into flames, burn away into ashes. Why? Why couldn't he do it? Why was he so weak?

"You're not trying. You can do better, you must do better if you ever want to be worth something. You're performance has gotten worse and worse by the day. What do I have to do to make you listen? This is what you want, isn't it?"

His words were frigid, freezing Robin over on the inside...He could no longer feel the pain...he could no longer feel anything.

"Answer me, Robin! Is this what you want?"

He found himself standing, found himself looking deep into the cold eyes of his mentor. How could he be so empty? The words formed on his lips without his knowledge. "Yes, sir."

His back was straight, his hands held defensively before his eyes, one foot resting slightly behind the other. That was everything...was that everything?

Batman regarded him silently for a moment. "You're tense. Don't put more strain on your body than is absolutely necessary. Loosen your muscles." He lunged, a right jab aimed at his cheek, and, robotically, Robin blocked him, sending his own punch flying towards Batman's nose. For all of two seconds, he dared to hope it might connect.

Robin cried out as Batman grabbed his fist, twisting it roughly behind his back. "You're angry." His tone was calm, calculating, and Robin felt the fury rekindle inside him as the man stated so simply something so painful.

"Anger will not win your battles for you, Robin. Anger blinds your senses, distorts your aim. You can hate me all you want, but it won't make you worthy." He released the constricting grip on Robin's upper arm, and turned his back on him. Was this really what he had been praying for just moments ago? The shame, humiliation, rejection left in Batman's wake brought a sharp sting to his eyes and a lump to his throat. He...somewhere deep inside, he wanted...needed...love...yet another manifestation of his many flaws, many weaknesses.

Slowly, he pushed himself to a standing position, limping towards the door.

"Where do you think you're going, Robin?"

He jumped, looking up to see Batman standing in the doorway, almost as though blocking it. "I...I was just..."

"Your training with me is over for now. But you still have four hours of personal training left before the day is over. I suggest you get to work."

Ok, now if you think that Batman was just waaay to harsh in this, let me justify myself. For one thing, there is a huuuge difference between Bruce and Batman, and when he's Batman, he's cold, indifferent, emotionless...it's his armor, and unfortunately, it doesn't distinguish between friend and foe. I am not saying that he doesn't care about Robin; he does. And that is, ironically, the reason why he pushed him so hard; he wants him to be perfect, because he knows how harsh it is out there, how easy it is to die with just the tiniest mistake. True, he went about the whole thingthe wrong way, but...he didn't know how else to do it. So hopefully you won't kill me...who knows? Maybe you even liked this... -Dusty