Standard Disclaimer applies - I do this for fun and do not profit from this. I don't own any of the Young Justice characters or the show.
NB: originally done as a response to a prompt on YJ-anon-meme.
Warnings: Violence, character death, somewhat graphic.
Robin has never broken down.
He's a tough little brat, but he has to be if he's a Gotham crimefighter and, more tellingly, to be the partner of the goddamn Batman. Gotham has a way of weeding out the weak links and the bird's been in the game since he was nine. He's no kid, not like everyone seems to think, and they don't know just how much steel he probably has buried under that bratty mask.
Oh, make no mistake, Artemis knows he's probably had his fair share of those nights where he's come back from patrol and, after all is showered and shelved, he collapses into his bed and sobs his eyes out. There are some things that just stick with you, even when the costume is put away. Everyone in the game has those nights, especially in Gotham. In fact, she's willing to bet her scholarship that even Batman has had those nights, nights where he can't sleep cause he sees pleading eyes and someone too far away to save.
But that's different. It's not the superhero crying, it's the civilian. And that's fine. It's sort of this unwritten thing, she supposes, but superheroes don't show when something gets to them. The costume's like a shield, a bright, colorful heap of armor that turns a civilian into this ideal and ideals don't cry their eyes out over dead bodies and stuff. They cowboy up and get the job done. Tears can come later, when the business end is handled.
It's also smart fighting. Most people know when they got someone riled up. Some perps love it and they'll dance a samba on your buttons if you let them. But kids like her and the bird, nah, they're better trained than that. They know how to take everything and shut it off or redirect it. It's what they're good at. And, judging by what little she's learned of their failed training scenario, Robin was probably even better at using it than she was.
She never thought she'd see the day when Robin completely lost it.
But here she is and he is screaming, raw and bloody murderous screaming interspersed with ugly, heaving sobs. His fingers dig like claws into the shattered and pulverized body of Batman.
And it's weird because it wasn't Batman being tortured that set him off. It wasn't the taunting, the way they performed their grotesque art in a parody of performance to their captives, or even the way the Batman looked at them with apologies in his one visible, brightly blackened and bloodshot eye. It wasn't the steady, meaty thud of flesh on flesh. No, hell no. At that point, she was halfway done sawing through their bonds.
It was the fall that did it.
When they'd hauled the Batman up to the platform, Robin had begun to squirm, shaking his head and muttering nononono, and when they'd kicked the Batman off, the murmurs turned into a single, blood-curdling scream of denial. And then there was that ungodly noise of flesh striking pavement at velocity, snapping and pulverizing bone and liquefying organs in an instant. The ropes had fallen away and Robin was half-running, half crawling, scrambling towards the corpse. He was pleading, begging, hitting the body, and then the Bat's head lolled to the side and the noise that came out of the boy's mouth wasn't human.
Artemis doesn't know much about the bird or his past. He's secretive as hell, just like the Bat. Oh, she's guessed he's not his son, not by blood anyway, and she can speculate how he ended up under the Bat's wings. But the way he was calm as a clam up until the fall and then suddenly squirmed in dread before completely losing his cool like that... well, she isn't stupid.
Kid's got a past. This isn't the first person he's seen die like this.
And they've got company in the now. They need to move.
But the bird is clinging to the body still, his screams now descending into breathy, ugly sobs. His hands ball into fists, tugging the bloody armor uselessly. He probably doesn't even know she's there anymore and, even if he did - which she doubts -, he wouldn't care.
Artemis grabs him, but he wails, clinging harder and resisting. He doesn't want to be moved.
"You can't get justice for him if you're dead," she hisses and slaps him, hard enough that the crack echoes in her ears harshly and he slumps against the corpse of the Bat, dazed. This time, he takes her hand when she offers it and they run.
When they finally stop, hiding in an old unused sewer main, he drops into a crouch like a doll who's strings have been cut, and then curls his arms around his legs. He rocks a little, but he doesn't say anything.
She does not think he will for a long time.