YJ: Fading Away
"Hey Artemis," Artemis lowered her bow and turned to face the team's youngest as the boy walked into the training room. "Want to do some range training with me? I designed this wicked program."
"Whatever." The blond shrugged. Robin hopped over to computer and loaded the program from his wrist computer. Robin led the blond to the center of the training floor as the ground lit up with holographic targets all around them. The two teens stood back to back.
"They change colours green to yellow then orange and red, when it gets to red the target will shoot back." Robin instructed. "If we get shot game over."
"Simple enough, you better have my back." Artemis said drawing her bow.
"Always." Out of the corner of her eyes Artemis caught Robin smirk as the simulation began. The two began taking out the targets one by one, Robin with his birdarangs and Artemis with her arrows. Artemis didn't even have to look to see where Robin was, the two worked together perfectly back to back dodging, and taking out the targets swiftly. As more and more targets popped up it was getting more and more difficult to get them all before the little circles blinked red and shot back at them. Artemis noticed a red circle blinking, it was too late, she could not dodge the bolt, and suddenly Robin came out of nowhere and jumped in front of her.
"GAME OVER." The computer announced and the FAIL sign appeared beneath the ground where Robin lay. Artemis walked over and offered the boy a hand, he took it.
"You know I should have lost." Artemis said pulling Robin up.
"Yeah, I know, but I got your back because we are a team right?" Robin said with a smile. "I know it's a little late to be saying this, but welcome to the team. You are cool." Artemis smiled and reached out and ruffled the younger boy's hair.
"You are not too bad yourself brat."
As Kaldur swam towards the north end of the large salt water pool he noticed a pair of little feet swinging slowly back and forth at the edge of the pool just below the surface. Kaldur didn't have to approach the surface to know who it was. Only Robin wait patiently for him by the pool side with his feet in the water when he visited.
"Robin." Kaldur greeted as he surfaced, he was a little surprised that the boy was dressed in his swim trunks with dark swimming goggles.
"Kal." Robin greeted the older boy with a smile. "Mind if I join you?"
"Sure." Kaldur said smiling; he has always enjoyed swimming with Robin the few times he has done it. The boy dove into the water beside Kaldur and swam up to the older boy.
"Tag you are it." Robin giggled touching Kaldur quickly on the shoulder before disappearing beneath the surface. Robin was a strong swimmer, he dove deep moving through the water with the same grace he usually moved through the air. Kaldur could have sworn the boy was an Atlantian in his previous life. Kaldur swam after the boy; he was able to quickly catch up. The two swam after each other in a fun game of chase. After many rounds Robin finally surrenders letting himself float on his back on the surface to catch his breath.
"I give up…" Robin smiled breathlessly. "You win."
"You swam well." Kaldur said floating next to the younger boy.
"Dude I am so glad you are the leader some days." Robin said with a slight chuckle make Kaldur raise his eye brow. "It's too much paper work. Batman is not an easy guy to report to."
"You've worked with him for four years." Kaldur said honestly impressed with the boy. "When are you going to relieve me?"
"I don't think I'll be doing that. You are a good leader Kal. Take care of them for me." Robin's voice had a strange tone that Kaldur couldn't quite decipher, but the tone was quickly covered with his characteristic giggle. "Besides, the fearless leader role looks good on you."
"Miss M what are you making?" Robin's playful voice made the Martian girl smile and turn around to see the boy sitting on the kitchen counter.
"I don't know… I was thinking of something other than cookies." The girl said putting her recipe book on the counter for Robin to see.
"I have a cupcake recipe my mom use to make." Robin said pulling out a pen. "My mom made the best cupcakes. I miss them."
"Use to make?" Megan echoed questioningly, Robin's face held an expression she didn't usually see on the boy's face.
"She died four years ago." Robin replied with a sad smile.
"I am so sorry." Megan frowned pulling Robin into a hug. "I didn't know…"
"It's okay." Robin told her as she pulled away. "Don't make that face on my account. Smile for me Miss M. You look really pretty when you smile, just like my mom." Megan flushed slightly and smiled brightly for the boy.
"Let's make these cupcakes! I don't know if I can do it justice, but I will try my best."
Robin wrote the ingredients and instructions down on a blank page in Megan's recipe book. The two teens carefully measured and mixed the ingredients giggling as they got cake flour on each other and cocoa powder. After an hour and a half they were pulling the tray of piping hot double chocolate cupcakes. Robin reached for one but Megan shooed his hand away.
"It's hot you'll burn yourself." Megan scolded Robin playfully.
"But it smells so good." Robin whined sounding like the little kid he was.
"Okay." Megan caved and handed Robin a cupcake. "It looks a little burnt." Megan frowned watching anxiously as the boy pulled back the paper and took a bite. For a moment Robin said nothing. "Well? Does it taste bad?" Megan urged.
"It's burnt but it's delicious. Just like how my mom used to make them." Robin said with a big smile. Robin put the cupcake down and threw his arms around Megan's neck pulling the girl close. This took Megan by surprise, while Robin did not mind hugs, he never initiated any. "Thank you." Megan relaxed and hugged the boy back. "Thank you for being you Megan. Thank you."
Superboy could hear Robin's feather light steps long before the boy reach the top of the stairs that led to their favourite hide out. It was a balcony of sorts, a flat platform near the top of the mountain. Superboy does not turn around when Robin opened the door onto the platform he just stared out into the setting sun. The warm ocean breeze felt nice against his skin. Behind Superboy felt Robin sit down using Superboy's larger back as a back rest. The two boys sat back to back watching the sun set together in comfortable silence.
"Conner." Robin broke the silence as the sun sunk below the horizon.
"Hmm?" Superboy hummed questioningly.
"What do you think of the name Conner?" Robin elaborated. "For you."
"For me?" Superboy asked feeling his heart skip a beat.
"Yeah, we can't just call you Superboy forever." Robin said leaning his head back again Superboy's back looking up at the stars. "You are so much more than that. Superboy describes what you are but not who you are."
"Like Robin is what you are?" Superboy asked, he could feel Robin tense for a moment then the boy relaxed again and chuckled.
"Yeah, just like that." Robin said softly.
"If I am Conner then who are you?" Superboy asked turning around to face the smaller boy who followed suit. For a moment Robin just looked at Superboy and then he reached up and removed the dark glasses that shaded his eyes from the world. Superboy found himself staring into the midnight blue eyes, captivated. A smile spread across Robin's features.
"It's a secret that I will entrust to only you. Since I am naming you it's only fair you know my name." Robin said sincerely reach out his hand Superboy took it. "My name is Richard, my friends call me Dick." Then Robin said something that was very confusing. "Goodbye Conner."
"Robin! Robin! Robin! Look what's coming out this weekend!" Wally said bolting into the living room.
"What?" Robin asked looking up from the TV.
"What do you mean what?!" Wally exclaimed knowing the boy had to be pulling his leg, there was no way Robin didn't know. "It's only the sequel to the best game ever!"
"You mean this?" Robin said with a giggle and turned on the TV. Wally felt his jaw drop as the graphics loaded and came on the screen.
"How the hell did you get this?!" Wally gaped hopping over the couch to join the younger boy on the floor in front of the TV.
"I have my ways." Robin said tossing Wally the controller. "Now are we going to play or are we just going to gawk at the opening screen forever?"
Three hours, and seventy-eight defeats by Robin, later Wally finally tossed his controller aside and flopped over unceremoniously onto Robin's lap.
"How is it that you beat me every time? At every game?" Wally said looking up at Robin.
"Because I am better than you." Robin said with a smirk.
"You twerp." Wally said as he hopped up, tackled Robin to the ground and tickled the younger boy relentlessly. Robin was not giving up without a fight. The two boys rolled on the ground tickling each other. Finally Wally being bigger pinned the smaller boy beneath him. Both of them were gasping for breath their cheeks flushed. Wally suddenly realized how compromising their position is.
"Wally…" Robin said breathlessly, his blue eyes looking up at Wally his shades knocked off and forgotten. "This is really selfish of me to say… but I have to say it before I never get a chance again…" Wally felt his breath catch in his throat, what could Robin possibly want to say to him? Wally had never seen Robin so flustered before. "I… I… Love you." Wally froze a moment unsure of his own ears.
"You… love me?" Wally mumbled in disbelief. Robin nodded with tears in his eyes looking like he was about to cry. "You mean it?" Wally asked again, Robin could only nod. "I… I love you too, I've loved you for so long I was just afraid to say it. I was afraid that you didn't…" Wally's words were cut off when Robin reached up and captured his lips. At first Wally was surprised but once he got over it he deepened the kiss. Kissing Robin was like a dream come true. Wally wondered why he had waited so long, but none of that mattered Robin was his now.
Bruce heard his bedroom door open, his internal clock told him it was four in the morning, and his hearing told him it was Dick's steps at his bedroom door. Bruce opened his eyes and turned around as the small boy climbed into his bed and snuck under the big fluffy blankets the way he did when he was younger and had a nightmare.
"Did you have a nightmare?" Bruce asked looking down at the boy who nodded and curled up against him. Bruce pulled the small child close and rubbed his back soothingly like he has done many times before. Then a sudden realization made Bruce stop.
"Why are you here Dick?" Bruce asked. This was not Dick. Dick was lying in the next room in a coma heavily injured. Bruce sat up and the boy in his arms sat up as well looking up at Bruce.
"I came to say goodbye Bruce." Dick said simply, a tear slipping from his face. "They let me come to say goodbye." Panic filled Bruce's heart as the boy spoke.
"Who's they?" Bruce demanded.
"Thank you. Thank you for taking me in." Dick said as another tear slipped from his eyes. "For taking care of me. For being strict with me. For loving me. For making me the person I am today. Thank you for everything. Please don't blame yourself for my death. You were the reason I lived, you were the reason I could fly so free because I knew you would catch me if I fell. I still trust you with my life. This is not your fault. Life happens." It broke Bruce's heart to hear Dick use his own word against him. "I am glad I got a chance to thank you for everything you have ever done for me. I love you dad." Bruce pulled the boy into his arms and held him tight. His senses were confused, how could the boy feel so solid in his arms? His eyes were blurred with tears, how could he see Dick's face so clearly? Suddenly a loud steady tone sounded in the next room.
"Master Bruce!" Alfred said bursting through the door but stopped as he saw Dick in Bruce's arms. The boy had begun to fade.
"Alfred. Thank you for everything. I love you so much." Dick said with a teary smile. "Please take care of Bruce for me, and yourself. Goodbye." With that the boy faded away.
"Hey kid. Want to do a second round?" Artemis said turning around to where Robin was, but she found herself alone in the training room. Suddenly her communicator beeped, she looked at the message in disbelief. "No…" Artemis whispered looking around. Robin was just here… Artemis was standing in a darkened room, there was no training program, no signs of arrows, Artemis looked but all she could find was a single birdarang.
"I've got your back because we are a team right?"
Artemis held the small object to her chest a tears falling from her eyes. He was gone.
Kaldur heard his communicator beep on the pool side. He swam towards it and looked at the message. For a moment he could only stare in disbelief, it couldn't be. Robin was right behind him. Kaldur whipped around only to find the water behind him completely still completely empty. In am moment of panic Kaldur thought perhaps the boy slipped below the surface. Kaldur dived down deep, swam like he had never swam before around the pool hoping to catch a glimpse of the mischievous boy just playing a trick on him. Nothing. There was no Robin. There was no second set of towel brought by Robin. Robin's words echoed in Kaldur's head
"I don't think I'll be doing that. You are a good leader Kal. Take care of them for me."
It all made sense. Robin had come to say goodbye.
Megan heard her communicator go off in the other room she ran out to get it only to drop the thing in disbelief as she read the message. Megan raced back into the kitchen only to find it empty. No mess from baking, no cupcakes, no Robin. The distressed Martian pulled open the drawer where her recipe book was kept and frantically flipped through the pages. On the last filled page, in Robin's neat hand writing, Mom's Double Chocolate Cupcakes. Tears streamed from Megan's eyes as she collapsed onto the floor hugging the book close.
"Smile for me Miss M. You look really pretty when you smile."
As much as Megan wanted to she could not bring herself to smile.
Robin's words had confused Superboy but before Superboy could ask for an explanation his communicator sounded. Superboy turned to grab the device he had left of the ground behind him. As the words appeared on his screen Superboy dropped the device on the floor. It couldn't be. Robin was behind him. He whipped around but saw nothing.
"You are so much more than that. Goodbye Conner."
Superboy let out a howl of anguish that echoed off the mountain side. Robin, no Dick, the boy who had given him an identity, the boy who had accepted him so wholly so unconditionally was gone forever.
Wally woke to his communicator beeping. He had fallen asleep with Robin in his arms, but Robin was no longer next to him. Groggily Wally reached out for his communicator. In an instant Wally was wide awake. Robin is dead. It was a message from Batman and that was all the message said. Wally couldn't believe his eyes, certainly Batman would not joke about something like this, but Robin was right there. Robin had been in his arms only a few moments ago.
"This is really selfish of me to say… but I have to say it before I never get a chance again… I love you."
Tears fell from Wally's eyes as he finally understood what Robin meant. Why had he waited? Why didn't they have more time?
Here lies Dick Grayson. Beloved son and friend. A True Hero. Rest well our little Robin.