The day Dick stopped lying to himself, the day he accepted his parents were dead and that there was nothing he could do to bring them back, was the day Dick learned a hard truth.
Some things are impossible to change.
Robin and Wally meet each others gazes, and Robin sees the truth reflected back at him from Wally's eyes.
They move in unison, pushing off around the corner and making a run for the doors. Robin pulls out his explosive disks and lets them slip from his hands with a heavy familiarity.
It could almost be any mission; one of the hundreds of other times the two of them have fought together, side by side.
Superheroes are involved in a lot of explosions. Fire, shrapnel, and falling buildings are part of the job description. It's one of the reason superhero suits are often made from Kevlar, a material that distributes blows and heat over a wider area, dampening their effect.
The explosion at the center of the mothership will set off an almost instantaneous chain reaction. The fire will race outward, dancing forward on the oxygen molecules that it devours with enough force to batter down walls in its path. The heat will begin to ignite the air before the fire even reaches it, and the oxygen at its edge will be sucked into the void left like a vacuum. The radiant heat will reach temperatures that will turn metal flammable, and melt asphalt in its wake, at a speed that will break the sound barrier. For a moment the temperature may even reach ten thousand degrees Fahrenheit.
Robin hears the aliens firing again behind them, and he wonders if it'll be them or the explosion that will kill him. He wonders if he'll know the difference; if it even matters.
The lenses in Robin's mask will melt. The Kevlar of their suits will do nothing more than distribute the heat, insuring their bodies will be evenly cooked before they burn to ashes. Even Robin's Pyroflect cape, designed to reflect 90% of any heat will become hot enough to bake in.
But dying is part of the job description too.
An impact hits Robin hard from the left, and he's pushed into the corner of the farthest alcove. His body tries to roll automatically, but something is there, pressing down on him. Hands, Wally's hands, ghost over his body, and he finds himself facing the other boy once again as nimble fingers strip him of his mask.
A moment; - everything is in moments now, fleeting and half grasped – and Robin knows this is the last time he's going to see his friends face, the last time Wally is going to see his what is he doing?; and Wally's hands are in motion again, his goggles lowered over Robin's eyes, an oxygen mask secured to Robin's face why is he doing this?; and Robin's cape is released, and wrapped around his body as he's folded into himself, his knees pressed against his chest no, it's not going to work; and Wally presses close, making his body into an extra layer of protection, his chest solid where Robin's head is pulled into it below the cape it's not going to work, it can't work; and it's dark he doesn't want it to work.
None of Robin's projectiles explode on impact.
It's just not practical. He takes too many hits to carry something like that on him, and still stay in one piece.
His fastest timer lasts exactly three seconds.
Embedded in the door Robin's disks blink.
And the moments end, and the countdown reaches zero, and the world starts to shake.
There is heat everywhere. It comes in waves, so intense he feels like passing out. It's something solid, and alive, and Robin knows it will be the death of him.
Some things are impossible to change.
But he's still breathing tightly into his mask, still clenched tightly in Wally's arms, and that means….Wally, Wally is the one shaking, doing his best to counter the vibrations trying to rip them apart, doing everything he can to keep Dick alive when everything they knows says nothing can.
The world stops shaking, and the weight pressed upon him begins to lighten.
They're all dead now. Wally and Bruce, Conner and Kaldur, Artemis. They're dead, and there's nothing that Dick can do to bring them back.
Dick presses his eyes shut against the building pressure in his head, and he waits, because there is nothing else left for him to do.
The world lurches sideways into light, and Robin sits up with a gasp, sweat pouring down his body and M'gann's voice rings in his ears.
"You're all alive!"
"I can't believe that!" said Alice.
"Can't you?" the queen said in a pitying tone. "Try again, draw a long breath, and shut your eyes."
Alice laughed. "There's no use trying," she said. "One can't believe impossible things."
"I dare say you haven't had much practice," said the queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
Some thing are impossible to change.
But sometimes you survive.
And sometimes you even wake up.