Heroes died. Only the stories of what heroes had done for their cities and for the civilians would be retold and live on forever.

Damian told him that only fools believed that heroes would gladly forfeit their lives for a lesser cause than taking down scumbags that would hurt innocent people. Heroes fought for death. Heroes did not simply wait in silence for death to overtake them when they were needed elsewhere.

And so, Colin screamed, screamed when the metal casket surrounding him groaned under the weight of the soil being tossed over it, his eardrums humming and raw from the echo. His fists thundered against the cover of the makeshift coffin, inches from his face, fingernails scraping and scratching near-invisible white lines smeared in his blood.

The soil dropping onto the casket hammered louder and louder to combat Colin's thrashing. The back of Colin's head thudded violently against where it laid to the metal, rattling his already disoriented and panicked senses, and he let out another bloodcurdling scream of desperation. The rational scrap of Colin's thoughts told him that no one would hear — it was a waste to use the limited amount of oxygen left to him. Damian had probably already taken care of the bad guys they encountered at the Old Steam Tunnel. He probably figured that Colin got bored and went back to the orphanage.

Damian. The corners of Colin's terror-bulged eyes stung. Help me. A strangled whimper between his lips. I'm sorry I got caught.

Turning into Abuse would do him no better; that rational scrap whispered with sinister intentions to him, even with the super-strength — the massive density of his body would fill the entirety of the casket and crush him alive… not that he wasn't going to be crashed anyway. If there was any possible way to get out of this, Colin would take it. Even offer a hand to a devil.

Colin's broken fingernails and the tips of his fingers bled little by little in the scraped trails, dripping sluggishly on his forehead, on his eyelashes. His vision blackened once even with his eyes wide open and it tunneled out into gray, steady spinning. And then, the metal casket lid disappeared. Fresh night air crept in to blow lightly in Colin's paling, wet face.

A pair of hands — smelling like second-hand leather and cigarettes — lifted him out of the casket. Colin found himself arranged upright into a sitting position on a prickly patch of yellowed grass, and he leaned away to the side, grasping the front of his zipped, brown plaid jacket, and dry-heaved loudly. His rescuer made a tutting noise from somewhere nearby and Colin remained leaning towards the ground, shutting his eyes from the continued spinning in his head. "I…" He panted, feeling disgusting as hot saliva slid down his chin, "…thought…I w-was going to die."

"Death ain't everything, kid." A man's voice. Clear. Husky. Laughing. "Not to be a downer on this happy occasion of another day you get to dick around in the middle of nowhere with some sticky acquaintances, but trust me, there's a lot worse that can happen to you." Colin wiped the running snot from the space under his nose and from his mouth with his sleeve, and stared blearily at the man's dark clothing when his rescuer hunched down next to him, stubbled face partially obscured by a maroon-colored hood.

"I clawed myself out of a coffin once." One of the fingers exposed from the man's motorcycle gloved hands twirled in a circle around his temple. "Does things to people apparently. But I feel pretty okay these days. Do me a favor, will ya, little man, and try really hard to not remember me when you wake up?"

Colin briefly felt the edge of a large hand slam into the base of his neck — a nerve — and this all seemed familiar somewhere…


"—lin! Wake up already!"

Colin's eyes fluttered open, brown irises peeking out to the figure scowling over him, a worried line set in the middle of his forehead. Damian was always worried about him even if he didn't admit it. It felt nice. "Mmhmm?" Tentatively, Colin uncurled from the tight ball on the park bench, stretching his arms over his head with a groan. Rush of blood to the head. Ahh. Aparo Park? How…?

"Is there any particular reason you ran off during battle to fall asleep with a newspaper over your head like some street bum?" Damian thrust the crinkled newsprint at him, and Colin's bloodied hands grasped around it. The mask lenses to Damian's green mask narrowed warily. "I've examined your wounds and Abuse's powers healed you. What do you remember about attaining them?"

Colin frowned slowly in thought. "I remember fighting with you. I saw one of the bad guys go down another tunnel and I went after him. I remember you told me not but I felt like I needed to stop him since he was getting away." Damian ttch!ed at his comment with blatant disapproval. "And then something hit me and when I woke up, I wasn't Abuse anymore. There was more than one bad guy I followed and they held me down and closed me up in this metal thing and I…" Colin's next breath trembled. "I couldn't get out and it was too small for my powers without hurting me. When they started burying me, someone found me and got me out before…" He couldn't dare speak the practically done inevitability without his heart going too fast in his chest.

"The mob runners?"

"I don't know what happened to them. They were… they weren't there anymore," Colin admitted with some confusion.

"What else? What about the person who found you?"

"Couldn't see his eyes or his face. But when he got close I saw he was carrying guns in a hip holster and he wore a hood over his head. He… he said something about being trapped in a coffin once."

Damian's mask lenses thinned to small lines by the time Colin finished. He mumbled something, and then repeated it through gritted teeth, anger teeming each word to follow, "Hood. Of course it has his filthy hands all over this." Damian snorted. "Their bodies turned up in the Brown R.R. Tubes an hour ago. All of them shot dead through the throat. It must have been convenient to stumble upon you."

"But… he saved me." Colin's fingers curling around his pants leg fidgeted, twisting an edge of the newspaper. "They were going to bury me alive."

"Red Hood is a malignant pain in my ass and a trigger-happy lunatic who enjoys killing at a mere whim."

"But he saved me."

Damian spat, crowding Colin's space and the other boy did not flinch, "Then join him on his deluded campaign for immorally sought justice, Wilkes! See if I care!" Colin watched expressionless as Damian fumed off towards the other end of the park before getting off the bench. Colin's arms slung around Damian's caped neck, halting him immediately in place — he supposed that not many people could manage this kind of reaction from Damian. He was a real hero. He was trained by Batman. He was not the type to let someone approach him from behind to hug him and relax into it.

Colin murmured, heavily resting his chin on Damian's shoulder and gripping the ends of his own elbows in the arm hold to Damian, "I don't want to be. I want to be yours." His cheeks flamed at the phrasing and Damian twitched in his grasp. "—Robin's partner. Even if I have to do it in secret, I want to fight the bad guys with you. You're my friend."

Damian shrugged him off, turning his face (was it Colin's imagination or were his tanned cheeks red too?) from sight. "Hn. It should go without saying that you and I are more than acquaintances."

"Am I in trouble for letting that Red Hood guy go?"

"… …You are alive."

That's all that matters.

It might go without saying for Damian but Colin liked to imagine him say it comfortingly in his head. Like Colin matters to him. One day, he would get Damian to admit it out loud.


Secondary title: "That One Time Jason Todd Showed Up and Colin Talked To Him and then Damian Called Jason an Malignant Pain In His Ass".

Ha. So, this pretty much started because I stumbled across Colin's claustrophobia and I wanted to play with that. Oh, and, the gingers needed to meet~ Aw yeah~