Here it is! Sacrifice's epilogue! I hope you guys enjoy this! I will really miss writing this story :( It feels really weird to hit the 'complete' button…
September 29…those two words hurt…soooo badddd
Anyway, review! And special thanks to all those who have been reviewing!
THIS TAKES PLACE ONE WEEK AFTER THE END OF CHAPTER 5! DICK IS STILL AT THE CAVE, NOT THE BATCAVE, EVEN THOUGH ALFIE PREPARED HIS BED AND EVERYTHING ;)
The team had for the most part recovered from the shock of encountering the Joker. They hadn't received any missions, and they spent as much time as they could with their baby brother.
Dick was recovering, slowly but surely. His stab wounds were now mostly painless and the burn on his thigh was healing too. The bullet wound in his stomach was recuperating very well, especially when the fact that he was shot at such close range was taken into account.
His knee ached at times, but given how badly it had been broken, that was to be expected. The infected cuts on his chest stung especially hard at random moments, but Leslie had said that they would be fine in a few more days. The broken ribs, though, made moving without gasping almost impossible. Dick was used to it by now.
His main problem was the fact that he wasn't allowed to get out of bed. The team had learned how hard it was to keep a fidgety acrobat in bed. Superboy had caught the boy trying to sneak out of the infirmary about four times, each time scooping the boy into his arms, careful of the leg, and plopping him back on the bed.
Many members of the Justice League had dropped by to see Robin. Wonder Woman had turned up with Aquaman and the Green Lanterns in tow. Superman and Green Arrow had came by the next day. The team had seen for the first time Robin's relationships with his 'aunts and uncles'.
Dick was also plagued by new nightmares. Since the infirmary doors were soundproof, it had taken them a while to discover this fact. But after two days, the team had noticed the dark circles under the boy's blue eyes and that same night, Superboy's super hearing had caught the extremely faint sound of screaming. He had alerted the others (Wally, Kaldur, and Artemis had started spending nights at the cave too) and they had all rushed to the infirmary to see Dick writhing on his bed, shrieking.
The nightmares had decreased somewhat but the team still held Robin many a night until the Boy Wonder stopped shaking and crying and fell back asleep. Seeing their strong hacker break down and cry in front of them for hours into the night reopened the fresh scars on each of the teen's hearts.
Batman checked in as often as he could on his baby bird. Actually, Bruce Wayne checked in as often as he could: now that the whole team knew his secret identity, he tended to come to the cave in suits and dress pants.
He was keeping close tabs on the Joker, promising to tell the team when he pinpointed the clown's location. Every part of him was aching to go after the clown himself, but he restrained himself.
Now, Batman, not Bruce, was in the infirmary, his heart aching as he woke Dick from yet another nightmare.
"Dick," he whispered, shaking the sleeping boy's shoulder. "Dick, chum, wake up, it's not real-"
Endless maniacal laughter, the sound of metal hitting flesh, screams, blood, and pain, so much pain-
Dick gave a gasp as he opened his eyes.
It took him a minute to realize that it he was in the mountain's infirmary and that Bruce's gloved hand was pressing against his heaving chest.
"You good?" Bruce asked gently, pulling his cowl down.
Dick managed a nod, wiping his tears away with the back of his hand. He leaned back into his pillows, swallowing his sobs.
"W-when did you g-get here?" he greeted, giving a watery smile.
Bruce pursed his lips, still obviously concerned, but he saw Dick's pointed look and sighed.
"About twenty minutes ago," he said. "I came to check in."
"You found him." It was a statement, not a question.
Bruce inwardly chuckled at his ward's ability to read him so easily but quickly sobered due to the topic of their upcoming conversation.
"Yes," he said darkly, his brown eyes clouding with hatred. "I did."
Dick swallowed, steadying his voice. "And- and you're going to let them go?" he asked, sapphire orbs filling with apprehension.
"Yes," Bruce said again. "They've got the right to, even more than me."
Dick looked down at his blanketed lap, bangs falling into his eyes. His fingers fiddled with the white blanket.
Bruce was not surprised when he saw a droplet fall onto the blanket, fading as it absorbed into the cotton material.
"Dick?" he said softly, reaching out and cupping Robin's cheek in his hand. "Richard-?"
Dick looked up, eyes glistening as tears made their way from them, tiny droplets clinging to his long eyelashes.
Heart aching again, Bruce moved to sit on the bed, taking his little bird into his arms. Dick shook with barely suppressed sobs, laying his head on his mentor's shoulder.
"Dickie," Bruce said, voice still softer than ever, "they'll be fine, they can handle the-"
Dick let out a whimpering noise and Bruce quieted, starting to rock Dick back and forth until the younger spoke.
"I don't want them to go," Dick whispered, clutching Bruce's cape in his hands. "I can't- I can't lose any of them-"
"Richard," Bruce said, his tone still gentle but not as much as before; he needed to reassure his partner. "You know they are able fighters. They will be prepared this time, it'll be okay."
Dick didn't speak. Bruce didn't either, holding onto him until the shaking stopped and Dick composed himself.
Pulling back and leaning into his pillows again, Dick cleared his throat slightly. "What time is it?" he asked; he knew that he had fallen asleep at around noon.
"Almost two o'clock," Bruce responded, smoothing Dick's hair back. "The team is training."
Dick nodded slowly, shifting into a more comfortable position.
"Well," he said, a grin slowly spreading across his face, "go tell 'em!"
Bruce rolled his eyes, smiling nonetheless as he marveled at how quickly Dick could be cheerful again. "I thought you didn't want them to go?" he said, raising his eyebrows.
"Of course I don't," Dick responded. "But they want to and they've been waiting forever for news."
Bruce stood and pulled on his cowl, becoming the Dark Knight once again. "Alright," he said, another smile playing on his lips. "I'll tell them. And I'll be heading back to Gotham afterwards: I have a meeting at Wayne Corps. I'll have Black Canary come check up on you."
Dick nodded again, and he quickly reached up and hugged his mentor, managing to hold back a wince as his ribs protested against the movement. "See you later, then," he said, pulling back. "Tell Alfie I said hi."
"I'll relay the message," Batman said and, with another small smile at his bedridden ward, he left.
He found the team in the training area. Black Canary wasn't there, but the team was training on its own, sparring in groups.
They stopped once they realized that Batman was there.
"Did you find him?" Wally asked immediately, running over to where the Dark Knight stood in the entrance of the room. The others looked over.
Batman smirked and Wally grinned.
Kaldur, M'gann, Conner, Artemis, and Wally made their way to the infirmary, all of them in uniforms and ready for departure.
"Richard will want to talk to you before you leave," Batman had said during their short briefing. "Make sure you see him."
Wally went up to the doors first, peeking his head in. He turned back to the team, a finger on his lips.
Carefully, the teens entered the dimly lit room.
Dick was asleep, snuggled under the covers, a lump indicating where his leg brace was. He stirred as the five team members seated themselves in the chairs that had been placed around his bed.
Baby blues opened to look at the teens. Dick gave a small smile, making to sit up, but then recoiled in pain as the cuts on his chest burned.
Wally jumped out of his chair and propped Dick back against his pillows. "Easy," he said, eyes worried. "What hurts?"
"Chest," Dick gasped out, eyes clenched shut, back arching slightly.
Wally gently rubbed a hand across the bandages on Dick's chest. "Better?"
Wally kept rubbing Dick's chest until the pained expression on the ebony's face faded.
Dick cleared his throat slightly as he sat up straighter, looking at the others. He quickly took in that they were all in uniform.
"S-so," he said, cursing himself as his voice wavered, "you're leaving?"
Artemis leaned forward, ruffling the boy's hair. "Yeah," she said softly. "In a bit."
"'Sides," Wally chimed in, "we don't think Supey can wait any longer."
Conner gave a mock growl as the others laughed, Dick settling for smiling to not aggravate his ribs.
After the laughter died down, Aqualad moved closer to the bed. "Yes, we are leaving soon. But Batman told us you wished to speak to us and we intended to see you as it was."
Dick gave a tiny nod but the look on his face spoke volumes. M'gann leaned forward too and gripped his hand.
"Robin," she said gently, moving her other hand and gently caressing his cheek. "We'll be fine. We'll be careful."
Dick swallowed and then he was crying again.
It had become something of a process. One of the older teens would move onto the bed and hold Dick in their arms while the others would shush him. They'd been doing this for the youngest whenever he had a nightmare.
Now, it was Aqualad who held Dick in his strong arms while the females and Wally piled onto the bed too. Conner stood next to the bed, hovering protectively.
"Robin," Artemis whispered as the Boy Wonder shook. "We can handle it-"
"Yeah, bro," Wally interjected, rubbing the back of Dick's hand. "But the longer we take, the more chance he has of-"
"I k-know," Dick said, face in Kaldur's shoulder. He pulled away, wiping his tears away, becoming whole again.
"J-just promise," he said, big blue eyes surveying his friends- his family. "Promise me you'll be okay."
"We promise," Conner said, moving forward and putting a hand on the younger ebony's shoulder.
Dick nodded again, a small smile on his face as the others stood.
"Well," Wally said cheerfully. "See ya soon, Dick!"
"Yeah," Dick said, smile widening as the others walked to the doors, M'gann kissing him on the cheek as she left. "And guys?"
The older teens turned.
Dick grinned. "Kick his ass."
On the bioship, the atmosphere was a mix of excitement and caution.
Wally was jittering in his seat, chewing on a protein bar. "I can't decide what to do first! I'm thinking of making a funnel cloud around him or- ooh, maybe I should-!"
"Just shut up, Baywatch," Artemis groaned, rolling her eyes. "Besides, I'm thinking Superboy isn't going to leave any of the clown for us."
Kid Flash opened his mouth to retort but Miss Martian stopped the two
"We're here," she said, landing the bioship next to the rundown building the Joker was taking refuge in.
"Finally!" Wally said, jumping out of his seat and zooming to the hatch of the ship. "Let's do this!"
The building was old. Disgusting. Crumbling. Fitting.
The teens entered the building as one, Artemis clenching her bow, Kaldur fingering his water-bearers, and Conner cracking his knuckles.
They found the clown on the first floor of the building, sitting in the corner on the tiled floor. He was humming tunelessly, shuffling a deck of playing cards.
He looked up as the team entered. "Oh, why, hello!" he cackled, standing up and brushing off his suit. "Back so soon?"
He didn't have time to say anything else before Superboy gave a roar and charged at the villain. He grabbed him by the lapels and shoved him into the wall, hard enough to make it crack.
The clown pouted. "Well, that was rather rude! I didn't even get to finish saying hello!"
"We're here to make you pay," Superboy hissed, nose-to-nose with the white-faced man- monster, "for what you did to our teammate."
"Oh, of course!" Joker exclaimed, clapping a gloved hand to his forehead. "I-"
Conner cut him off again, tossing the clown into the air and then delivering a powerful punch to his gut.
The Clown Prince of Crime flew some ten feet, landing right at the feet of the others. Kaldur had whipped out his water-bearers and Artemis had an arrow in her bow, cocked right at the monster in front of them.
The Joker grinned, rubbing his stomach. "How is he? Boy Blunder, I mean. You know, I'm already starting to miss-"
Wally swung his leg and kicked the clown as hard as he could. His foot connected with the Joker's mouth and they all heard the oddly satisfying crunch of breaking teeth.
Joker sat up, spitting red out of his mouth. "My, my, somebody's not feeling too happy. What's wrong, Ketchup Kid?"
"Don't you talk about him," Wally snarled. "Don't you dare talk about Robin."
"You mean don't do this?" Joker giggled, sitting up. He opened his mouth and spoke in a sing-song voice.
"Robin, Robin, Robin-"
With an angry yell, Kaldur swung one of his water-bearers at him, hitting him in the side of the head. The clown fell over again, wheezing.
"Struck a nerve, have I?" he said from the ground. "And you still didn't answer me! How is Boy-?"
Superboy dove again, fists pummeling the Joker so fast that they were blurs. The two rolled, a jumble of arms and fists.
"Leave some for us!" Artemis called, tossing her bow aside and clenching her fists instead. She moved after the clown and her teammate.
Kid Flash, Miss Martian, and Kaldur followed suit.
And they fought. They fought hard, just like their Boy Wonder would have had he been there at their sides.
I really hope I didn't blow it with the ending… I know it was waaay too rushed but...
Ahem, anyways, that's it for this story! I hope you all enjoyed it! Leave a review please!
Expect a new Tenacious Trio chap tomorrow! I have one all done and ready to roll.
Oh yeah, guess what I was doing before finishing this? Drawing Nightwing's finger stripes! It's the first time that I actually enjoyed drawing hands! I think it turned out pretty good. I might use it as a cover for one of my stories ;)
Finger stripes...hnngg, come back, pleaseeeee...:(