Robin had fallen asleep beside him and every now and then Buddy would distractedly stroke her hair. Somehow, the tiny child had wormed her way under his skin and had become inexplicable fond of him. Maybe it was all the stories he told her.
The nurses and doctors didn't seem to care that one of their small charges spent most of her time in the company of a much older man of questionable identity. A fact that alternatively relieved Buddy and made his want to yell at all of them. They could at least pretend they cared about the children in their care as something other than future tools, basing all their worth off their supposed potential.
He sighed and looked at the formula he was working on. It be much easier if he was actually in a lab to experiment with this. The lens would have to be very carefully formulated and molded or they'd be useless.
He tapped this pencil against the notepad, and abruptly it snapped. Buddy swore quietly, glaring at his right hand. He'd have to try and refine the control of his right arm and hand again.
Buddy slid the glasses onto Robin's face. "You can open your eyes now, Robin," he told the little girl that sat crossed legged on his hospital bed.
Robin shook her head. "It'll hurt," the two year old protested.
"It won't hurt now, I promise," Buddy assured her, stroking back her hair with more tenderness than even he thought he was still capable of having.
Fat tears squeezed out her tightly clenched eyes and streaked down her cheeks. "No."
Buddy wanted to personally strangle every last doctor that had overlooked her problem and given her this fear. "These are special glasses remember?" he reminded her softly.
Robin nodded after a moment. "Made them just for me," she lisped.
"That's right," said Buddy. "Now open your eyes."
Very slowly, she opened one eye then the other. The lights were dim enough not to bother eyes after so much time in darkness. She blinked at him a few times with very green eyes. "Hi," she chirped. She blinked a few more times peering around at everything.
Buddy laughed in relief. He had been slightly worried. "How do your eyes feel?"
Robin blinked at him again. "Like…" she frowned as if searching for the words. "Like I can see without hurting." She launched herself at him, throwing her small arms around his neck. "Thank you."
He hugged her back gently after a moment. "Couldn't have you hiding those pretty green eyes forever, now could we?"
"Don't leave," she said suddenly.
"Hey, babe, I'm not going anywhere for another week," he told her.
She shook her head and buried her face into his neck. "Don't leave."
Buddy gently placed a hand on the back of her head as he listened to her sniffle. The realization came to him almost like his designs did, suddenly it was just there, and he knew he couldn't leave her in this hospital. He couldn't leave her to be turned into a tool or thrown away like trash. He couldn't let her turn into him.
"How would you like to come with me?" Buddy asked her softly.
Robin sniffed and looked up at him. "Go with you?"
Buddy nodded. "You'd have your own room and all the toys you could want. Anything you want, you'll have," he promised her.
"You'll play with me?" she asked.
"Of course," Buddy whispered.
Robin beamed happily and hugged him again. "Kay, I'll go with you."
Buddy hugged her back again, and had no idea what he was going to do.
He hadn't meant to do it. He really hadn't.
"Robin, please stop crying, I'm sorry," Buddy rocked the little girl awkwardly in one arm. "I'm sorry, please, I'm so sorry."
Robin bawled into his shirt and never in his life had he ever left lower than this.
A horrible bruise was already forming on her arm and it made him sick to his stomach. He hadn't meant to grab her so hard. She'd been running around giggling when it been time for her to go to bed. He'd been increasingly frustrated with her and when she'd run past he'd grabbed her arm.
Only he'd grabbed her with his right hand, and god forgive him, he hadn't even been thinking. Robin had let out a wail of pain and started crying before he'd even realized he was holding her that hard. "I'm sorry," he whispered again into her hair.
He could have broken her arm. He'd hurt her and he'd promised her he would never do that. But he'd hurt her.
Robin slowly calmed down, her sobs turning into sniffles.
"I didn't mean to hurt you," Buddy whispered, and suddenly hated how much like his father he sounded. He couldn't finish, couldn't say he was sorry again because how many times had his father done this.
Robin sniffed and kissed his cheek. "S'okay, daddy," she told him. "Don't cry."
Buddy hadn't even realized he was crying. "It's not okay, Robin. And it will never happen again," he promised her. He'd work on his arm until he had the controls perfect, no matter how much each bit of tweaking hurt. Even then, he wouldn't touch her with his right hand unless he had too.
It was only later after he'd finally put her to bed that he realized she'd called him daddy.
Buddy Pine sat in office and cried.