Robin wakes up to a smoke filled sky and the only sound he can hear is the crackle of fire.
The aches and burns don't register. Neither does the pounding in his head or the blood starting to soak through his uniform. Instead, he stumbles to his feet, his whole body shaking, and he can't quite recall why.
His hand threads through his hair, and he takes one step, then another. He starts walking in unsteady jerky steps, yet he doesn't know where.
The events of the past 24 hours trickle back into his mind, then out as tears sliding down his ash covered face.
He's all that's left.
He keeps walking, because they would want him too.
Robin stood stock still as he was presented with medal upon medal from various nations who cheered at the world's safety. It had only been 6 days since the mother ship's demise, yet earth seemed to be thriving. In the crowd he could see Roy staring at him with sympathetic eyes. He seemed to be the only one who understood.
The world had been saved.
For Dick it was slowly crumbling away.
It was on the 10th day after the incident when it was suggested to him to take up his mentor's mantle and recreate the Justice League. Dick had promptly vomited the meager food he had managed to swallow that morning. Then he went into the cave, grabbed Bruce's cape, and hid away inside it. He couldn't find it in himself to cry again.
The next morning Dick called all the remaining heroes he could find. He organized a meeting at Mount Justice to go over all new League initiations and procedures.
There were only 8 including himself.
As he was about to speak he found the words caught in his throat, and a sudden panic swell in his gut. His whole body burned and his stomach flopped like a fish gasping for water.
A hand on his shoulder calmed him, and he looked up through his mask to see Zatanna give him a reassuring nod.
Robin took a deep breath.
He wasn't alone.
Another deep breath.
Somehow, someway, things would be alright.
Though hero numbers had dwindled to almost nonexistent, the villains were thriving. In a world ravaged by chaos, it was not surprising that those who would be the first to recover were those who adored chaos.
As the months passed and crime skyrocketed, more rose to join the cause. All young, all inexperienced.
They were outnumbered, outmaneuvered, and outmatched.
Dick was tired. His body weary from working almost nonstop to keep everything managed. He could feel the bags under his eyes and the knots of tightened muscles in his back. He was already on his 6th cup of coffee, yet he wasn't really sure how to count the intervals now. He had already abandoned school for this. He looked upon his growing league and he felt hope flare in his gut.
They would manage.
They were willing and ready to put their lives on the line. All they needed was guidance.
Dick could give them that. Not all was lost.
Dick is 16 when he finds a small boy lifting tires from his R Cycle. At first he freezes and stands stock still as he watches the kid work. His hands and deft and skilled; his eyes determined. Dick can't help but think of how his talent is wasted.
Then the ridiculousness of the situation sets in and something roars out of him that hadn't been there in such a long time. Laughter escapes his throat as he huffs for breath and the kid is frozen in fear beside his cycle.
"What are you doing kid?"
"Uh….Nothing?" The boy's hands shake and he drops whatever tool he was using.
"Run along home. Your parents must be worried." Dick can feel a grin breaking out over his face. It feels wonderful.
"I don't have a home." And the kid sounds angry and hurt all at once and its overwhelming.
So Dick takes him under his wing, and teaches him how to fly. How to truly soar.
His name is Jason Todd.
Dick keeps growing. His old outfit is already tight around his body and he asks Alfred to make him a new one. They agree its getting rather ridiculous.
The next day the old Butler presents him with a package.
"Congratulations, Master Richard. You are now old enough to legally pay taxes." Its only then does Dick remember that its his 18th birthday. He feels tears in his eyes as he opens the package to see a black costume with a beautiful blue bird designed into it. He remembers Bruce and his blue eyes. Dick knew he could never be the Batman. Not like Bruce.
Its fitting he guesses. He had clung onto the Robin persona for far too long to keep any semblance of what it was like in the days before the invasion. But he has to grow up. He has to move on.
The next day he lets Jason wear his Robin uniform and he can't help but grin back as the boy exclaims "This is the best day of my life!"
The Watchtower is teeming with heroes. Though all of the senior League members are younger than 23. Still though the building is being used. Monitoring shifts have been made and Dick has optimized productivity. Most of their team is still in school, so it's hard to fill certain time schedules. But they make due.
There aren't really sidekicks anymore. There are mentors and partners. Once someone is taken in by a hero and is proven trustworthy, they are inducted into the League. The old days have passed and changes are abound. Roy still complains about the 'Buddy' policy in effect for anyone under the age of 18 on missions, which is almost everyone. He says it's a waste of time. Dick and Zatanna agree that it's better to waste a little bit of everyone's time than to have a teammate's blood on their hands.
Jason thrives under Dick's teachings. He is aggressive and has a drive so strong that it would have rivaled Bruce's. Dick knows he will become great one day.
Though it comes as a shock when he learns the rumors of a new female vigilante in Gotham are true. Immediately Dick recognizes the woman before him as his old friend Barbra. He smiles and shakes her hand.
"You can call me Nightwing." He tells her after they had finished tying up common thugs.
" Thought you guys could use a little help." She replies with a smirk. Behind her is a small boy, his hair black but his eyes are covered by a black domino mask. He waves and grins. "I'm Batgirl. And this is Talon." The boy is younger than Jason, but Grayson can tell he has a smart head on his shoulders.
"I'll take any help I can get." He tells them.
The boy turns out to be Tim Drake. Another orphan and Dick can't help but invite him into the manor. At first Jason is unreasonable, but within a month they are budding brothers. Alfred still has to break them up there almost endless spats though. Roy congratulates him by saying "Great. Another brat to look after. Dick flies with them by night to protect what he has struggled to gain after the tragedy. He hopes this is what Bruce would want.
A comet lands to earth in the form of a kryptonian girl. At first its complete chaos within the League. They argue and rage about what to do and how to proceed. In the end Dick sits the girl down and tells her about Clark.
She cries into his shoulder until passes out. The next day she asks to formally join the League in honor of her cousin.
She becomes Supergirl and tells them that her name is Kara. Dick realizes she is the 40th member.
"I don't know what to do." Roy is crying at his front door. His face is ashen and he is clutching a wailing bundle to his chest. Dick sits him down and listens as his old friend tells him about Lian and her mother.
"We'll get through this Roy. I promise you that." He lays a hand on the archer's shoulder and he truly means what he says.
Dick has become the one everyone trusts. He is the stone that they cling to helplessly to steady themselves. Dick didn't want this responsibility, but he will bear its heavy burden in silence.
The boy in front of him has black hair, blue eyes, and Bruce's blood running through his veins. He's 10 years old and Dick can't fathom why Talia would do this.
"So you're the one my father left in charge." He is glaring at Dick and all he can think is Bruce, Bruce, Bruce. "You look like a fool to me."
Dick gulps and behind him Jason seethes towards the boy.
"You look like Bruce." Is all Dick can manage. He is pretty sure he just confirmed this boy's earlier accusation.
And so Dick opens up his home to yet another child. He is bold and rash, constantly criticizing Dick's every move. But he's sorta adorable when he pouts.
Dick's family keeps growing.
Dick's eyes were wide to see what Barbra had created. Beside her stop the Birds of Prey. Apparently he hadn't been the only one collecting orphans. Females in costume all ready and willing to follow Barbra to the death. And Barbra was willing to follow him to the death.
This army she had created was for him, to use and lead as he pleased.
Stephanie Brown, Cassandra Cain, Bette Kane, Kate Kane, Selina Kyle, Tatsu Yamashiro, and countless others.
He shook each of their hands and welcomed them to fight alongside him.
"No, you have to do it like this, ya see? Lean into it and then kick back." Jason demonstrated to his younger siblings. He was filling out into a fine young man.
"What the hell would you know about it Todd? Your pathetic at acrobatics." Damian spat out, frustrated at taking orders.
"Language Damian." Dick absentmindedly scolded as he typed away at the bat computer.
"What did you say you little shit? I'm the best damn acrobat here except for Dick. If you're gonna insult me at least know what the hell you're talking about." Jason spat back.
"Language Jason." Dick chimed in again.
"I know exactly what I'm speaking of. You, on the other hand, couldn't-"
"Seriously guys? Cut it out so we can get back to training." Tim cut off the youngest boy with exasperation.
"Shut up!" Damian and Jason shouted together. Tim sighed and took a seat by a terminal to let them duke it out.
"Good heavens, what on earth are you boys shouting about?" Alfred glided down the stairs into the bat cave, a tray of fresh cookies in his hands. The smell filled the cave, and suddenly the children were all too occupied stuffing their mouths full to argue anymore.
Dick smiled and wished Bruce could see his beautiful family.
Dick stood in his clean pressed black suit and watched as they lowered the coffin into the grave. The acrobat couldn't find it within himself to cry anymore. Around him friends and family gave their condolences.
Another friend dead.
Another grave to visit.
Around him alarms were screeching and red lights flashing. The temperature within the space craft was steadily rising as it plummeted towards the earth. Dick held firm on the flight control.
This was it.
Years and years he had protected those he loved and now he could make the ultimate sacrifice. Just 5 minutes earlier he had pushed two of his colleges into the escape pod and said "It's been an honor."
He could hear them screaming at him not to do it as they shot away to safety. But he had to do this. He had to destroy the central control so that the others could restore order. This was the only way.
He was only 47 but he knew that in his profession, that was more than enough to ask for. He was okay with this. He had lived, had loved, and now he would finally die.
On the other side would be his loved ones.
The ground rushed up to meet him and Dick only felt the heat of the explosion for a split second.
Then he opened his eyes.
I know I should be working on other fics, but I juts wanted to get this out there. Tis so sad.