Everything belongs to DC or Warner Brothers or whatever, not me.
OK, this one's pretty sad. Sadder 'cos it's based on true stories. Written ages ago.
But it's happier at the end 8^)
Alfred (*cheers*) references but no actual appearances (*sigh*).
Constructive criticism welcome.
It Could Happen
"I don't know if they noticed, really…"
The small teenager turned his domino mask over in his hands.
"Not even Dick, who's, like, my friend. He normally notices. But it's OK, really, he had too much to worry about anyway, you know, what with the Huntress thing and everything…"
He paused and bit his lip, wondering if he'd said too much.
"Oracle, you know, Babs. She was a bit upset, and angry, I suppose. So he was kinda busy with that…"
"You heard me! Get out of my house! OUT!"
"Don't you 'Babs' me, Dick Grayson! I am fed up! You hear me? Completely fucking fed fucking UP!"
"I'm sorry! Please, it was just once…"
"That what you said last time, you BASTARD!"
"Last time? What…?"
"And the time before, and the time before that!"
"Yeah, well, what about Blue Beetle…"
"I told you to GET OUT!"
"Oh, uh, hi, Tim, uh, Robin, I mean…"
"Hi Tim, we were just…uh…"
"And it's OK that Bruce didn't know because he's really busy too, and he doesn't notice stuff about… people… unless he needs to, you know, on a case. But actually, I think he might know… something. Or suspect something, I dunno…"
He stared intently at the mask.
Two figures stood in the dark alley. There were more than two figures there, but none of the others were standing.
"Are you alright?" The deep growl of Batman's voice betrayed no concern to those who did not know him. But Robin knew him.
"Yeah, fine. Why?"
"You seemed a little… unsteady." Batman started tying up the slumped bodies and dragging them to the entrance of the alley, where the police would pick them up.
"I'm a bit tired."
"Behind in your sleep?" Batman would allow only himself to keep super-human hours.
"A bit, I suppose."
Batman paused, staring at him, "I don't like it when you say 'I suppose'."
Robin realised that he didn't, either.
"And Steph… I love her and everything, but she can be a bit, uh, oblivious, I suppose. And she wouldn't think of that. I didn't think of it until I did it."
A small attempt at a laugh.
"But Batgirl knew. She came into the cave, and looked at me, and just… knew. It was weird. But she didn't do anything, or say anything, well, obviously… heh."
A small attempt at a sheepish smile.
"So, I was like, totally into this conversation, and we're in the mall by now, and then I see this dress, and I just, like, stop, and stare! I'd seen it last week, and it was, like, $100 or something, and now it was just…"
Stephanie Brown, the Spoiler, carried on, unaware of Robin's glassy look into the distance, despite his occasionally nodding head.
"Oh… hi…" Steph said as Batgirl entered the Batcave. Although they had been working together for sometime, Cassandra's presence always made her nervous.
"Hm? Oh, Hi Cassie…"
"Cassie?" Spoiler asked, surprised. "Whoa, Tim, you look totally out of it! Are you OK?"
"Oh, yeah, I'm just a bit tired."
"Huh. Well, anyway, I told Shondra that Bernie would never…"
"But Alfred didn't notice, I mean, sometimes he pretends not to, but he wouldn't with this. They say it's serious, when they talk about it. You know, on the news. But it's just girls, you know, because of the models."
An embarrassed half-grin.
"No, my Dad didn't notice, he doesn't notice anything."
Almost a frown.
"Dad? Are you here?" Tim Drake's voice echoed around the huge and obviously empty house. There was a note on the fridge.
Your father & I have gone to the Howards' ball-
Be back 1.30 am-
Quiche in the fridge-
The quiche was thrown away.
"I dunno why I did it. It wasn't why they said, you know. I'm fine with way I look, because I work out and stuff. So I didn't think it was… that. It was just… like I could… control something in my life… I felt so sort of controlled after Batman told Steph… I wanted to know I could do something myself…"
"We only found out when he collapsed on patrol." Nightwing knew Batman too- this voice was verging on terror, but would have sounded as calm and cool as usual to anybody else.
"How long has he been like this?" Nightwing shifted from foot to foot. He had a horrible feeling that this was his fault. He remembered that Batman would no doubt be feeling the same way and would need talking out of it. Sh'yeah, like that was possible.
"He has been unconscious for three hours, caused by exhaustion."
"No, I mean, when did he stop eating?"
Batman swallowed and shook his head.
When Robin had woken up, Alfred had put mittens over his hands to stop him clawing at the drip that was putting nutrients and calories back into his bloodstream. He was pitifully thin with the costume off, and had obviously been starving himself for some time. Batman felt tears running down his cheeks at the sight, but checked himself in order to explain to Young Justice why their leader would not be turning up to the next meeting ("he is unwell, but is on the road to recovery") and to the Titans, when Nightwing couldn't bring himself to leave Gotham ("he is unavoidably detained on another case").
A small smile.
"Yeah, they were great when they found out. It was weird. I knew I had to stop but I didn't want to. I wanted to… I don't know. I liked the control, I suppose. Even if it was killing me…"
He trailed off and swallowed.
"Don't even ask how we got it past my Dad, but Bruce and Alfred are both pretty good at cover stories."
A sudden angry frown.
"It's not like he even noticed I was gone. But I'm still… angry. I know I shouldn't be, but they didn't even notice, or do anything, or care! They didn't fucking care!"
He looked surprised at himself.
"Wow. That was mean. I know they did. And they helped me over it. And now I eat, I just don't like to eat too much. And I sometimes make myself throw up after meals. But Dad doesn't notice. And I have got better, I'm getting better."
He rubbed a cut on his left arm.
"I did this. With a batarang. They'll notice. And they'll know. They'll know that I can't control even myself, that I'll cut my own arm, just to get attention"
His voice had risen to almost a shout.
"And they'll help me through it."
"Like they always do…"