Usual disclaimers apply.

No Ever After


Jim Gordon had come up to the roof for a smoke. He'd tried to give it up thirty times in the last two years, and every time, he ended up back on the roof, smoking. Why the roof? It was closer than the street, and sometimes. he got a little company. Like tonight. Tonight there was a red-breasted visitor staring out at the city, his yellow cape billowing behind him in the slight wind.


The boy did not respond, and Gordon grew a little worried. Robin was usually exceptionally attentive and aware of his surroundings. Even with his back to Gordon, he looked like a young man with a lot on his mind. He came to stand almost next to the boy, who was crouched on the roof, looking out into the night.

"Robin." The boy glanced over at him, as if feeling his presence for the first time. He went back to staring out at nothing.

Jim couldn't say he was particularly close to the young man. It was strictly a working relationship. He revealed as little about himself as his mentor, and yet he'd always been so much more vibrant and full of life. A ray of hope in this dark city, and, he knew-in Batman's life. It did James Gordon no good to see the boy so heavily weighed down.

"You seem very. reticent tonight," Gordon began. When that didn't produce any response, he added, "I take it your partner doesn't know you're here."

"Oh. He probably does," the boy said listlessly.

"Whatever's on your mind. I take it HE doesn't know about it?"

Robin continued looking across the roof tops. "No."

Whatever it was, it was serious. The young man was completely devoid of his usual vigor. "Is it something you care to share with me?"

Robin almost jumped with that suggestion. "I. I don't know," he said with grave hesitation.

"It can't hurt."

Jim was surprised when Robin let out an ironic little laugh. "And what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Or it just hurts a whole lot." That was more than the lad had said since the beginning of this meeting.

"You're very worried, whatever it is."

"Yeah." So. He was back to being reticent.

Jim decided to step out of line and just say it. "Whatever it is. it's not like He's going to kill you for it."

Robin shook his head, but continued looking forward. "You don't know that."

"He's never been inclined to murder," Gordon said lightly.

"There's a first time for everything." Robin's voice had been almost. bitter. And yet, the lad was entirely certain of his impending doom.

"Why don't you tell me about it?" he offered again.

The boy looked startled. "I. I can't. Its not."

"Robin. I think you'd better," Jim said with authority.

"Ok," the boy said with painful resolve. "Alright."

Jim continued watching the young man as he gathered up his resolve. Whatever this, was, it was exceptionally difficult for him.

"What would you say. you know. You being the dad of a girl."

"I can do hypothetical." That seemed to be a comfortable enough realm.

"And I really liked that girl. Loved her." Robin chanced a glance at Gordon.

Gordon nodded encouragement. "Well, yes. I am the 'dad of a girl' as you put it. And you. seem like a very nice young man."

"Tha-thanks." He bit his lips for a moment. "I. I'm not. I'm a horrible person." He covered his masked eyes with his hands. "Batman's going to kill me."

"Robin," Gordon asked sternly. "What have you done?" No doubt, whatever it was, it wasn't as bad as the young man was making it out to be. He sensed the young man's loyalty his mentor, and that was probably the single cause of this anxiety attack. He was afraid of disappointing the Bat. Gordon had to admit that that was a very harrowing prospect.

"See. I really, really care about her. I really really love her." the boy looked down at his hands, full of uncertainty. "What if. um. I sort of. got this girl. Into trouble."

"Are you saying what I think you're saying?" Gordon asked for clarity.

Robin nodded.

"Well now, you're wondering how the girl's father's going to react. He's not going to be pleased. Why, if it was Barbara, I'd probably shoot you."

Robin burring his head in his hands. "Oh God."

Gordon chuckled, trying to lighten the mood. There was no way to lightened the severity of what Robin was telling him, though. "Lucky for you, it isn't Barbara."

"OH GOD!" Robin moaned with great anguish. This was probably the most horrible day of his young life.

"Robin! It's not as bad as all that! Look, son, if you want, I can come with you when you talk--"

Gordon didn't get any further, the boy began retching over the side of the building.

When he was done, Robin looked white as a ghost. "Do-don't kill me," he muttered. The boy was shaking.

"Why would I kill you?" Gordon asked.

There was silence, all but for the boy's teeth chattering and the soft lapping sound as his cape fluttered in the wind.

"Why would I want to kill you, son?" There was more quiet. "ROBIN!"

"I-I didn't mean to!"

"Who's the girl?" Gordon asked, barely managing to swallow his anger.

The boy slowly turned to meet his eyes. "Ba-babs is. Sir."

"Babs? MY Babs?" Before he could stop himself, all of a father's rage and indignation welled up in him, and he grabbed the young man by his cap and hauled him to the ground. The boy did not attempt to defend himself. "Why you little. didn't I tell you not to even THINK about it?"

The boy was on his hands and knees, and he was spewing up bile. Jim ALMOST felt bad for Robin. And would have-if it weren't HIS daughter that this was over.

"What's going on here?" a gravelly voice said from behind him. "Robin?"

"What's going on here," Jim ground out as he spun to face someone he'd actually dared to consider a friend in this madness. "Is that your. CHILD. your PARNTER. WHATEVER, knocked up my DAUGHTER."

The Batman's head snapped sharply to his ward. "ROBIN?"

The young man couldn't bring his head to look at his mentor. "I didn't mean."

"What the HELL were you thinking?"

Slowly, Robin lifted his head "I. I love her."

"You're SIXTEEN," Batman said vehemently. "That is LUST, not LOVE. There's a difference." Batman appeared to be staring a hole into him.

Gordon looked at the Batman. He almost couldn't believe that Batman would be that forceful or harsh with the young man. "This is great and everything, but what about my DAUGHTER?"

"She'll be taken care of," Batman said gruffly.

Jim didn't necessarily like the unhesitant efficiency of that answer, but didn't retort. What the hell had his daughter been thinking? With a minor! "Where IS my daughter?" he asked suddenly.

Robin slowly got to his feet, ignoring the fact that the two fathers were boring holes right into him with their eyes. "ROBIN!" both men yelled in unison.

"WHAT?" he asked, a bit indignantly.

"Where is Barbara?" Batman asked coldly.

"I. I can't tell. She made me promise. until you're both calmed down."

"WE'RE CALM," they both yelled in tandem again.

Robin's eyes were wide with fear, but he didn't volunteer the information.

"I'll throw you in jail for kidnapping!" Gordon declared.

"I didn't kidnap her," Robin protested weakly. "She's. where she is. on her own."

Both men advanced on him.

"Just don't yell at her!" Robin cried. "She's at the old clock tower!" As quickly as that, Batman was gone, and Gordon was heading for the door that lead below. For the briefest moment, Robin stared out into the night, wondering what he'd wrought.

* * *

Two weeks later, Dick Grayson stood at the large bay window in his bedroom, staring out. It was the closest he'd been to freedom since that night. Watching the crows fly in the late afternoon sun would be the closest to flight that he'd get for a long, long time.

He leaned the side of his head against the window frame, wondering when things had begun to spin so wildly out of his control, and why. It had all been so perfect. He'd had Barbara and things were finally just the way he wanted.

Now she wouldn't even talk to him. Not that he was allowed, but on his several secret attempts, she'd told him off quite plainly, then hung up. She was mad that he'd said anything at all about her whereabouts while their parental figures were still out for blood.

Dick had heard all of the fall out. He'd been listening when her father rushed in to their little hidey-hole and confronted her, he'd listened when Batman had confronted her, listened-completely unable to do anything while she cried and he accused her of horrible things.

Bruce had later asked him if he actually believed his actions were without consequence. That had been the last word Bruce had said to him. It was fifteen days, and Bruce ignored him. It was so typical, Dick thought.

"He'll come around, young sir."

Dick didn't even turn around. Alfred had been saying that for over a week now. "I've screwed up, Alfie." And Dick had been saying THAT for two weeks. "I've screwed everything up with everyone. Everyone that matters."

"Not me, sir."

Dick watched the orange clouds drift across the sky as the sun sunk lower and lower. At any other time, he'd be preparing for the evening's work. Not now. Maybe not ever again, if Bruce had any say.

He thought back to all of the time he and Barbara had spent at the clock tower-early on it had been just a childish hide-away from the Bat's heavy gaze. Later it had become a sanctuary where they could be safe with each other. They'd become friends there. They'd become more there. And now it was always the place he'd remember as the location of the death of their relationship even as a new life was starting.

"I. I didn't even stay with Babs. When Bruce and her father.I'd hang up on me too."

"Give it time."

"How MUCH time?"

"Eventually, the parties involved are going to have to sort themselves out and come to a working agreement."

Dick dared to look back at the older man. "You're talking about some very stubborn people."

"Who have gotten through worse situations."

"What do I do, Alfie? What do I do to fix it?" Alfred always had sage advice. He'd know how to make it better.



"You heard me, young man. What did I tell you before? Time."

"I. I don't have time."

"You have quite a bit of it now, I think."

With that, Alfred closed the door, leaving Dick with his thoughts. Unable to stand himself or the situation any more, he threw himself on the bed. The need to vomit had passed, but the tears flowed freely when he thought of his failings as a man. Perhaps, some day, he could earn their trust again. By the grace of God, he might one day be worth the favor and concern that Barbara formerly showered him with-and the care and attention. Maybe some day he could stand before Barbara's father and his own as a person worthy of respect-theirs, and his own.