Disclaimer: I do not own Young Justice.
Batman Always Comes
The water drops were incessant and came from nowhere. Nowhere, and he was sure of it. Robin had spent the first three days in his little Closetcage scouring for it's source just to have something to do. No luck, and it was driving him mad. But at least he wasn't feeling so bored anymore. He wasn't feeling much of anything.
"Stop, stop, stop!" Robin swung around and beat his gloved fist into the metal wall of his prison. He didn't seem to notice the way the ruined glove stretched over his pale, bloody flesh like a second, crusted skin. But that wasn't unusual now. He banged it again, but it never made the right sound anymore.
He'd been locked away in his tiny Hell for a long time, and that much he was sure of. Little red lines danced in a row like the smeared finger paint of a child across the walls, recording the time as he remembered it to go. It amounted to twelve weeks now, four days. Weeks and weeks spending his nights listening to recordings, please, please, just be recordings. Tortured friends and family. Memories long gone and then like yesterday.
Again and again.
A rope snapping, then falling, falling, falling. He could hear them scream…and splat. It took him back there; the way their blood had soaked his shoes and the knees of his pants as he leaned over them. His father's lips moving, blood dribbling through the inaudible words. Moving. Then no more. Again and again…stop, stop, stop. Not real, never real. Just a bad dream.
But not really.
He wanted to believe the days were easier, but now he can't force the lie into his stomach. "Listen, little Robin, listen to me. I know what will set you free. Tell me, little bird; tell me what I want to know." But he didn't know. Didn't know his captor, or the answers that he so wanted. Needed. Or did he? What did he want again? Maybe it didn't matter. Maybe he didn't want anything at all, just the sounds Robin made when the little knives were pushed into his back and the metal sticks drove into his ribs. Crack, crack, fingers stepped on with metal shoes and little shocks and salts to keep him awake.
It was so hard now, to remember and to forget. Forget me not. Robin laughed. Hysterical shrieks that were foreign scratches in his throat. "Not funny." Robin hiccupped, "Not funny at all." But he laughed anyway.
The worst part was the injections. He never knew what was real. An explosion one day year lifetime, only to disappear behind his eyes lids in blinding dreams and white noise. A gorish mush splatting on the floor like ice cream, slushing along in the shape of a severed hand. Wally was both the most comforting and annoying. He'd sigh and grin his way around the room. 'Round and 'round until Robin's eyes hurt from strain and blood vessels broke trying to keep up with twitchy muscles he wasn't really aware of. He wished he could see Batman, but he never came. Batman always comes.
Out of everything else, real and fabricated, dream and reality; he knew that was real.
Batman always comes.
"The trick to overcoming torture is separation."
Batman had told him so, but Robin had been eleven then, young and younger still.
"You have to find a way to separate your other selves."
So eventually, he did.
It was simple, so simple he was embarrassed. But Batman never asked; Robin never told.
Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple.
Separate people within him. Separate the colors inside.
Hard revenge and hatred. The boy who had bathed in his parents' blood. New Robin, all fresh and justified. The type of hero he would become; they all mixed and mingled in him. Now, lying flat on his back in a metal block, he separated himself out.
Crazy. He was going crazy. Insane.
He always knew he would.
All the kings' horses and all the kings' men…
He giggled and tasted metal bubbling in his throat in over piled pennies.
What was that? What did he say?
His name, his name. Did he have one? Robin-name.
And he sees him. Whited out eyes and grim mouth. All hard angles and a calloused palm.
"Robin," He whispers.
Then pain; here, sides, head. Pain.
But he knew pain. No strangers here.
Wrong answer, little bird.
Not even close.
Little bird. Little Bird.
Old friends, really.
That was a name. His name.
He name was Little Bird, and he was twelve weeks old. Little Bird liked gray and quiet and knew colors and drip-drips. He told him the truth of who he was. Of Little Bird from Metal Block, Closetcage.
"I don't like you, or metal, or drip-drops, or green, or sound."
Little Bird Birdie Bird.
Red orange yellow, one two three, Batman, Batman; he comes for me.
But he couldn't stop the pain, or thought, or the black that rose to meet him one more sound later.
Little Bird didn't know, suddenly didn't care so much. Smile. Was that something he did? Someone did.
Batman wasn't now.
He thought that was sad. Why couldn't Batman smile too? "Smi.." But his throat was raw and cracked and tired.
"Shh, Robin. Hold still."
He breathed. It hurt.
More people. More, more, more…
Try saying that fast.
Batman didn't blink when he started giggling. One little boy, boy; one new death. One little robin, Robin; kill the rest.
He does. It wasn't really funny anyway.
He's used to taking orders now; all of him was, really. Richard the stage-boy, Dick the rich ward, Robin the hero, and even Little Bird the prisoner. They probably weren't even real. None of them.
Prisoner no more.
He hears himself giggle.
All of him was starting to wonder if this was real.
All the kings' horses and all the kings' men…
Put the pieces together like a good boy and know know know.
Robin knows Batman always comes.
"Are you really here?"
Batman doesn't answer. Something about his head must be very interesting.
"Yes, Robin," He says, "I'm here. I'm here now."
Now, but not then.
And there it was again, Robin, Robin, Robin. Was that him, too? He wanted to ask, but then a new needle was coming towards his good arm. The less-bad arm. That sounded funny. But not the kind to make a smile.
Batman didn't smile either. No smiles here. Only needles.
No no no. No more needles.
"Stop." But he doesn't.
But no one ever does.
He can't feel anything.
He's too cold and too hot.
No sound. White noise.
"Hello?" He croaks. Doesn't speak. There's rustling, but his eyes are too heavy to search.
"How are you feeling?" The voice isn't warm, but it is familiar and wanted and here.
Slow. He feels slow.
"I'll be fine, Batman. I'm always fine." Robin smiles and his lower lip splits open again, but he's remembering when he was ten and Batman came home one night breathing hard and holding his ribs like he thought they planned on bursting through his chest.
"I'll be fine, Robin. I'm always fine."
Robin shifted his weight. Everything felt wrong.
Clinking. Echos. No drips.
"You'll heal, Robin, in time. But now you need to rest." There was more fabric-noises. Swish swish swish.
"Batman?" His voice isn't his own.
"Is this real?"
"Of course it is Robin."
"It always was."
Until it isn't.
So, I'm sure some of you guys recognize this… I was never satisfied with the original one I did, or the redone one…and eventually I figured out it was partially because of it was a choppy fic within a choppy format. Too much.
But now it is done. Hopefully for the last time. We'll see.
Feel free to leave me some advice, reviews, or well, anything you'd like.